Born and raised is South Central Los Angeles, Will Alexander grew up around the violence that has plagued this area for decades. The only child of working class parents, he attended Washington High School, avidly participating in school sports. In 1972 he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Creative Writing.
In the mid-1970s the noted Black poet K. Curtis Lyle, a founding member of the Watts Writers Workshop, met with Alexander and others at his home and at an incense business run by musicians Ray and Ernest Straughter. This period was also marked by a twelve hour dialogue in San Francisco with the surrealist poet Philip Lamantia which had an enormous effect on the young Alexander. Through those gatherings Alexander began confirming the power of works of his readings of Bob Kaufman, Octavio Paz, and Francophone Negritude writers such as Aimé Cesaire and Jean-Joseph Rabéarivelo—all poets who would strongly influence his subsequent poetry and, later, the visual art he had begun creating. Their themes of cosmic isolation from society and interior discovery strongly affected him, and helped him to what he describes as an “alchemical metamorphosis,” which drew him away from his intense involvement with sports to his participation in the arts.
In 1987 he published his first book, Vertical Rainbow Climber, which already contained the heady mix of metaphor and sophisticated language that characterizes so much of his work. A short chapbook, Arcane Lavender Morals, followed in 1994, with new books—including Stratospheric Canticles, Asia & Haiti, Above the Human Nerve Domain, and Towards the Primeval Lightning Field—following throughout the 1990s. The writing represents a complex distillation if images from many fields, including botany, astronomy, psychology, physiology, mysticism, and history. He has also written novels and dramas, including a fiction/non-fiction work, Sunrise in Armageddon , published in 2006.
Alexander has performed throughout the country, and has taught courses at the University of California at San Diego, Naropa in Boulder, Colorado, Hofstra University, and Mills College. He was the recipient of a Whiting Fellowship for Poetry in 2001 and a California Arts Council Fellowship in 2002.
BOOKS OF POETRY:
Vertical Rainbow Climber (Aptos, California: Jazz Press, 1987); Archane Lavender Morals (Buffalo: Leave Books, 1994); The Stratospheric Canticles (Berkeley: Pantograph Press 1995); Asia & Haiti (Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1995); Above the Human Nerve Domain (New York: Pavement Saw Press, 1998); Towards the Primeval Lightening Field (Oakland, California: O Books, 1998).
See Green Integer title(s) by this author