The fifth volume of our Spotlight poetry series, Compression & Purity is a new collection of poetry by Los Angeles–based African American surrealist Will Alexander. Known for densely textured visionary epics influenced by poets like Aimé Césaire and César Vallejo, Alexander here returns to shorter forms to address his ecological, cosmological, and historical concerns. Highlights include a monologue from the perspective of "The Blood Penguin," a song by the "New Water on Mars," and Alexander's autobiographical lyric essay, "My Interior Vita," describing the evolution of his artistic consciousness through jazz and surrealism. Compression & Purity confirms Alexander's reputation among surrealism's foremost contemporary practitioners.
"Born in South Central Los Angeles, and a lifelong resident of Los Angeles, Alexander, who got his start publishing in Clayton Eshleman's groundbreaking journal Sulfur in 1981, is vastly under-appreciated--an important avant-garde poet, who deserves a wider audience." — Huffington Post
"Compression & Purity works well as an introduction to Alexander's black surrealist oeuvre while still engaging and challenging his longtime readers. Though emotionally cold and detached, the poems more than make up for it with a genuine love of language and its power to effect change." —The San Francisco Bay Guardian
"This new volume from the L.A.-based African American poet includes an autobiographical, lyrical essay about how jazz and surrealism affected the evolution of his artistic sensibility." — Los Angeles Magazine
"Will Alexander is a poet and poetic-critical interpreter of the world with a uniquely compelling voice, which has finally gained him the kind of recognition he deserves. . . . For those who know his works and those who don’t, his clarities and opacities, with their internal rhythmic charge, will invoke a dynamic that figures, as the constellations once did, the myriad connections that tie us to our human and natural universe; the one interpenetrating the other without cease." — Allan Graubard, Leonardo
"Alexander's comfort and willingness to discuss occasions beyond our normal daily experiences excites the imagination with the warmth of ecstatic re-envisioning. This is writing that opens up new worlds, crisp and direct in its offering of unique and valuable gifts." — Rain Taxi