Towards the Primeval Lightning Field

Will Alexander


Towards the Primeval Lightning Field by Will Alexander / ISBN 9781933959207 / 107-page paperback from Litmus Press.

I don't know how I wound up with this strange book (Surrealist prose poems?) when it first came out in the 90s, but it made a big impression and hence I'm stocking it and Alexander's other books.


"His work resembles no one's and is instantly recognizable. In part, he is an ecstatic surrealist on imaginal hyperdrive. He is probably the only African-American poet to take Aimé Césaire as a spiritual father...[Alexander] is a poet whose ecstasy derives from the scientific description of the stuff and the workings of the world."—Eliot Weinberger

Now available as a second edition with a new preface from the author, Will Alexander's TOWARDS THE PRIMEVAL LIGHTNING FIELD (O Books, 1998) is a work of "vertical philosophy" revealing the strata of cultures and language, like geographical layers seen all at once. These essays comprise Alexander's "search for origins outside the warrens of the visible," revealing a singular imagination that moves with the force of a manifesto and the impossible dexterity of the unknown.

"Will Alexander is by far the most original poet working in the United States today. A major force in the dissemination of surrealism, there is absolutely no one who sounds like Alexander, and he, most emphatically sounds like no one else."—Justin Desmangles

"If the quotidian amounts to little more than a dossier of unitary suffering, then Will Alexander's visionary essays commence the ignition of evolution beyond inclemency. Césaire, Lorca, Cheikh Anta Diop, non-European philosophy and cosmology, alchemical and anti-statist traditions: all animate this work; its range is incomparable. André Breton wrote that for surrealism 'life is elsewhere;' TOWARDS THE PRIMEVAL LIGHTNING FIELD takes us in pleasure and terror along the way to that range, shimmering beyond grim power, 'where the waters and suns are both kindled by splendour.'"—Barry Maxwell

Born in 1948, Will Alexander is a poet, novelist, essayist, playwright, visual artist and pianist. He was the recipient of a Whiting Fellowship for Poetry in 2001 and a California Arts Council Fellowship in 2002. He was also the subject of a colloquium published in the prestigious African American cultural journal Callaloo in 1999. 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.

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