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Refractive Africa

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Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
Winner of the California Book Award in Poetry

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.

ISBN-13: 9780811230278

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation

Publication Date: 11-02-2021

Pages: 112

Product Dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.40(d)

A poet, aphorist, playwright, essayist, philosopher, visual artist, and pianist Will Alexander is a native of Los Angeles. The author of nearly thirty books, his honors include a Whiting Fellowship for Poetry, a California Arts Council Fellowship, the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award, a Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award, and the 2016 Jackson Poetry Prize. He is currently the poet-in-residence at Beyond Baroque in Venice, California.