Like saxophonist John Coltrane, who this book is dedicated to, Will Alexander improvises his way through noise and chaos to explore the furthest reaches of his source material and thought process. And sometimes, although I love the late music of Coltrane, I can’t but help be reminded of Miles Davis’ retort in response to Coltrane’s extended soloing: ‘Why don’t you try taking the horn out of your mouth?’
The contradiction is that the lengthier poems here are the most successful, as they catch the reader up in extended riffs of ‘Language / as scaled erisma / as amplification that burns’ with energy, confusion and the ghost of incantatory poets such as Allen Ginsberg, Gil Scott Heron or The Last Poets whilst also drawing on the bewildering radical politics and mysticism of black artists such as Sun Ra, Anthony Braxton and Amiri Baraka.
Shorter poems, such as ‘Under Corporate Worship, reproduced here in its entirety, don’t…
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