cover image Divine Blue Light

Divine Blue Light

Will Alexander. City Lights, $16.95 trade paper (114p) ISBN 978-0-87286-870-0

Drawing from the arts and sciences, the ambitious latest from Alexander (after Refractive Africa) operates with a cosmic energy. Adopting a surrealist approach to making sense of the universe, Alexander plumbs language for its limits, often with dazzling results. The first poem is an artistic homage to fellow surrealist poet Fernando Pessoa, whose practice of using heteronyms intrigues Alexander as a way to transcend the singular and static self: “to you Fernando all tenets interacted & kinetics remained oceanic/ because at present you survive the particle that was yourself.” Indeed, Alexander’s interest in the plural self, unmoored in time, permeates these poems: “I am both sans & simultaneous/ concerning billions & billions/ of curious antecedents.” He also writes of jazz luminary John Coltrane, honoring the musician with the title poem, while depicting the animating power of the musical genius in terms that might also describe the origins of the universe: “I am thinking of your sound alive as chronic pre-character/ as limitless pre-clusters & fragments.” Pondering the mysteries of existence and artistic influence, this engrossing work turns the quest for self-knowledge into a choral act. (Nov.)