DCW: (I bring this up because if his findings are accurate, we could be looking at 1% of the population on Earth as potential, budding shamans. A small percentage, yes, though enough people to catalyze necessary healing.) Julian Silverman’s landmark study on this topic in the 1970s cemented a linkage between shamanism and acute schizophrenia. Do you see any further similarities between these two modes of being? Differences? Would you say the shaman remains a steadfast threat to the 'culture' of commerce?
WA: First of all, when you have a cultural focus pervaded by the mechanical conquest it stiffens overtime and loses its flexibility. The shaman on the other hand blazes from within magically pervaded unpredictability. He or she exists sans any traceable motion akin to observing a bat in motion near dimness at sundown. Two words come to mind eerie, ghost-like. This not an energy that can be conscripted via analytical gain or loss according to a pre-ordained propulsion towards verifiable certainty. Being outside the artificial mental scape of recto-linear projection graphs suddenly disappear with the psyche left in seeming suspension. What is left is psycho-physiology that burns as sonic vibration. It is fueled by tests accomplished on the invisible plane. So when a circumstance (such as the Occident) completely ignores the invisible the shaman exists as an apparition that can never be quantified, and spelled out according to delimited material understanding, the latter always determining it's realia according to beginnings, middles, and ends. Lucre can never correlate with the plane suffused by the kinetics of the invisible. Say, a quantity of shamans arose the system of commerce would go blank. The forces of the cosmos would begin to truly appear.
DCW: Your work appears to be driven by an undeniable life-force, an ever-resilient aliveness underlines your poems when I read them. Do you believe in the muse? Why through the lingual?
WA: As a poet I've come to fruition in an urban climate, not say, in some exotic setting say, of snowlight in the Yukon, or in the wilds that continue to suffuse old British Guyana. I am a poet who has developed via libraries on the one hand, and the magical experience of live musical performance via spirits such as Sonny Rollins and Jackie Mclean (to name just two among many I've had the honor to see perform). Since l never played an instrument or had a calling for visual art at the time, the most available conduit was language. It has (and continues) to possess for me a compelling charisma that allows me to express my deepest urges of energy. It cleanses me of the triple artifice of brilliance, ambition, and lucre which seems to be the driving force of the poetry world in many quarters. Like Bud Powell I am as desperate to write as he was to play the piano. Language in this state cleanses, to paraphrase the great trumpeter Booker Little, there are no "mistakes", only directions to be explored.
DCW: The newer poems come from the perspective of the Henbane Bird. Human beings certainly possess no monopoly on sentience. We have a unique perspective on things, to be certain; although so does the javalina, the chaffinch, the humming bird, the sycamore. How does one remain mindful of their specific point of reference, all the while expanding beyond it?
WA: As living organisms we collectively share consciousness. Everything that we experience is suffused by what I consider to be of a subsequent order. An energy that can never be dispelled by any form of cognition. Things have been littered by, blinded by the impatience of European arrogance over the past number of centuries having exhausted itself in search for its reflection of itself via recto-linear logic. It wants to master Mars and the moons of Saturn with a generic wagon train psychology. The consequence of this psychology has accorded little status to the sycamore and javilina, to chaffinch and the various hummingbirds. Since the Portuguese entry into Africa an endemic inequality was evinced that has carried over in the modern era. Nature and people of color have remained non-factors or factors to be used in service of Portugal and the northern powers. In consequence, indelible damage has been wrought upon both the Indian and African populations as well the extreme violence rendered by the Inquisition and subjugation of collectives such as the Cathars. This remains a consciousness prone to an optical prevalence by which it draws and measures things. Hence,
Linnaeus and the racially threaded charts of European psychic mapping. The Southern world as well as nature has been subject to onslaught of disruption not only physically but most importantly mentally for all the African slaves and North American Indian survivors. It is within this understanding that the Henbane bird evokes its voice, not in terms of political or didactic reasoning pattern, but as an exfoliation of the anterior. The anterior in this case not only prior to the European spirit and its wizening but of the Earth itself and the energy that created the Earth. Each phoneme of the Henbane Bird is soaked in this anterior energy field which naturally retains its Indigenous poetic character. This bird is not an avant-garde practitioner functioning within an ersatz reflex pattern according to some politically correct instructive review. The bird simply speaks and verbally blossoms as its own simultaneity.
DCW: Do you have any plans to release either Concerning the Henbane Bird and/or The Combustion Cycle, respectively? What can the people look forward to as far as forthcoming books and/or readings?
Will Alexander- Poet, novelist, playwright, essayist, philosopher, visual artist, pianist, who has authored over 30 books and chapbooks. He has read at venues stretching from Rotterdam to Los Angeles and is currently poet-in-residence at Beyond Baroque Poetry Center in Venice California. In addition to this he is a Whiting Fellow, a California Arts Council Fellow, a Pen Oakland winner, an American Book Award winner, as well being both a recipient of the Jackson Prize for poetry in 2016, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Beyond Baroque Poetry Center in 2018. He resides in Los Angeles.