Will Alexander on “A Nexus of Phantoms” by Sophie Kipner

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But if words come to him in different stages, whilst working on a variety of projects, I wondered how he would know which poem the words he heard were for. “I hear words differently depending on what poem they are a part of. One of my poems, ‘Concerning the Henbane Bird,’ was about 300 pages long and came to me over periods of time.” While the 70-page title poem in A Sri Lankan Loxodrome is thematically different to “A Nexus of Phantoms,” he knew they were all part of the same collection of poetry. He adds, “This poem is part of that hearing cycle. It’s connected to the larger poem and leading up to the main poem but done on separate occasions. I heard them in different times, appearing to be disparate, but they are connected. I was struck by the color of the lorikeets and then what I heard generated a feeling.”

In the same vein that some artists bypass sketching and go straight to paint, Alexander avoids the tentativeness of pencil and jumps straight to the page with pen, which he argues allows room for spontaneous, organic creativity. No erasers. No middlemen. No overanalyzing. Just straight to the page. If you were to try to break down an Alexander poem, piece by piece, dissecting analogies and metaphors, you would quickly begin to realize that making logical sense of something so intangible becomes, well, illogical.

Alexander became fascinated by the connection between creativity and water after seeing the word loxodrome, also known as a rhumb line or “a curve on the surface of a sphere that cuts all meridians at the same angle,” in a 1957 edition of a geographical dictionary. “We are all made of the same energy,” he says. “All of this is part of it.” The loud taps the coffee barrister makes when she prepares a new brew, the sirens outside and the screaming children walking into the café are all a part of it. Distractions imply there are attractions. Linear thinking implies there are boundaries. But according to Alexander, categories and conditions inhibit our thinking. “You can’t see the wind,” he begins. “Only the wind’s refraction on the trees. People observe the concrete, but it’s the refraction that impacts us.”

You won’t find any punctuation marks in this collection of poetry. I interpret that as a way for the poetry to represent his reality: free flowing without the boundaries of commas and periods. But when I ask, he just tells me that’s how he heard it. As humans, we construct these parameters and boxes of thought to make sense of a world that really is much more fluid than rigid, much more water than rock. So how should you read Alexander’s work? Let yourself be entranced and cradled in the beauty of his words. Hear them and let them speak to you.


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  1. January 18, 2010 @ 12:13 pm shelley Milano

    Sophie’s article is a piece of art itself. I feel i know this poet without ever having read his work. Sophie is a talented writer and i look forward to more from her.

  2. April 18, 2010 @ 5:01 pm Forth Magazine | Los Angeles Writing and Art | Issue 7 | Forth Magazine Issue 7

    […] Will Alexander on “A Nexus of Phantoms” by Sophie Kipner […]

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