Wednesday, October 24, 2007


After ultimate tests & burnings
the spore of space
of diurnal fatigue

its remains
marked by a geometric hydrogen
--from "A Cursory Note on Pre-Existence" by Will Alexander

There were so many touches of the marvelous in last night's reading at City Lights to commemorate what would have been Philip Lamantia's 80th birthday. But, for now, I want to focus on how the event opened with a BIG BANG! To wit:

Will Alexander couldn't make it from Los Angeles due to his battle with cancer (more below), but what Peter of City Lights did was call him on his cellphone. Then Peter placed the cellphone over the microphone and we were all able to to hear him read. It was really moving -- he wanted to ensure his health didn't prevent him from being part of this event and it didn't!

Because the sound of his reading was affected by the technological travel, I was glad I that I'd prepared to open my reading with one of Alexander's poems, "Inside the Ghost Volcano." I had thought it'd be boorish if I didn't do that, since I was reading de facto as his replacement for the event. Now, the thing with reading another poet's work is then you can really tell about pitch, because rhythm can be subjective and part of the challenge is being able to write poems that transcend the author's voice-specificities (which is to say, to paraphrase sculptor Carl Andre, One can write poetry not to determine what the poet wants to say but what words want to say). Well, Will Alexander has purrrr-fect pitch. It took me years to really appreciate Alexander's work as much as I do today -- and I do recommend you check him out, too!

Meanwhile, please note this message from Steve Dickison:

As you may have heard, poet Will Alexander is quite ill with cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy. He's spent his life largely off the poetry grid, taking on odd jobs, and has no financial support or, needless to say, health insurance.

The San Francisco organization Poets in Need is coordinating efforts to raise money for him. You can make a (tax-deductible) contribution to them, earmarked for Will, and send it to:

Poets in Need
PO Box 5411
Berkeley CA 94705

For those around New York, there will be a benefit reading for Will at the Bowery Poetry Club, Thursday November 1, 6-8 pm (readers to be announced).

Many thanks---

[Please feel free to forward this letter on...]

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