Refractive Africa by Will Alexander / ISBN 9780811230278 / 112-page paperback from New Directions
Three kinetically distilled long poems by the singular American poet who “transfigures ‘thought’ into a weave of lexical magic” (Philip Lamantia)
“The poet is endemic with life itself,” Will Alexander once said, and in this searing pas de trois, Refractive Africa: Ballet of the Forgotten, he has exemplified this vital candescence with a transpersonal amplification worthy of the Cambrian explosion. “This being the ballet of the forgotten,” he writes as diasporic witness, “of refracted boundary points as venom.” The volume’s opening poem pays homage to the innovative Nigerian-Yoruban author Amos Tutuola; it ends with an encomium to the modernist Malagasy poet Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo―two writers whose luminous art suffered “colonial wrath through refraction.” A tribute to the Congo forms the bridge and brisé vole of the book: the Congo as “charged aural colony” and “primal interconnection,” a “subliminal psychic force” with a colonial and postcolonial history dominated by the Occident. Will Alexander’s improvisatory cosmicity pushes poetic language to the point of most resistance―incantatory and swirling with magical laterality and recovery.
Will Alexander: Poet, essayist, novelist, short fiction writer, playwright, aphorist, visual artist, pianist, who has written close to 40 books in the above-mentioned genres. His most recent work includes THE COMBUSTION CYCLE (Roof Books, 2021), A CANNIBAL EXPLAINS HIMSELF TO HIMSELF (The Elephants, 2019), and AT NIGHT ON THE SUN (Chax Press, 2017). He is the poet-in-residence at Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Foundation in Venice California. He currently lives in Los Angeles.