DC: How are you holding up, Will? What’s new? What have you been doing to stay sane during the pandemic?
WA: The pandemic though morose and solemn for planetary culture at large inscripted my presence with an ironic oasis where the prior grasp of the world dissolved and further clarified my understanding of its dissolution. The circumstance has allowed me to focus insight over and beyond its grammar of turbulence. New lingual spells appeared unbidden for me because the territorial forces of the culture were momentarily stilled. Its interim allowed me to ruminate on the fertility of language itself which meant that a quaking of phonemes transpired which led to the phosphenic explosion of what I continue to realize is none other than lingual mystery. An eloquence of range not as transposition but capable of delving into the improvisersatory state that is living.
DC: In much of your work, and with The Combustion Cycle specifically, there is this notion of the “I” that seems almost larger than life itself, or as large as life itself. When you are speaking from the perspective of the Henbane Bird, for example, the “I” possesses a unique simultaneity. You seem to not only be speaking from your vantage point as a specific human being with a specific point of view, but on a larger scale/perspective, simultaneously speaking from the Henbane Bird’s perspective, your specific perspective, as well as the perspective of humanity as a whole. Your “I” seems to connect all of the worlds “in there” and all of the worlds “out there.” How has your approach to the “I” managed to stay so fluid over the years?
WA: The 'I' which I've employed has remained transpersonal since the inception of my writing. By the time it had evolved to what was to be The Combustion Cycle it had become analogous to an inner nano sail translating its powers to unimaginable zones and distances. This is how the imagination has evolved for me always broadening its scale never recognizing expected linear cultural boundary. This understanding was seeded by Surrealism, not in an ideological sense but as a kind of inner ozone that freed me from the bombastic utterance of linear detail. An utterance of range transpired and evolved into a hyper-range not unlike the concept that is the nano-sail wandering unimagined vacuums. This wandering not only covers distance but also sonic alteration of phrasing but creates sonic alteration as distance. Equational trans-function not entrapped in itself as circularity. I call this compound suggestility which creates alteration as it continues to exist not as bound or orchestrated tautology. This creates range as unknown faculty. What transpires is that energy rises and becomes an improvised element without remaining riveted to a tedious concourse. The unexpected summons exhilaration. One ceases needing mechanical levers. As was stated many years possibly attributed to Breton when the verbal current seems to internally run aground just start the next phrase with a word beginning with the L. Praxis at this level has allowed us to go beyond these early stages so that in-grown ignition suddenly ignites and takes off as unplanned wizardry. I feel this to be a higher more inclusive field of comprehension. A qualitative understanding not strictly tied to ideology or conscious political fragmentation but literally an evolved more comprehensive faculty that creates its own facility. Not a state based on a prior of information that by the nature of its energy attracts the accuracy of future states.
DC: The way you read and the way you approach readings seems to be heavily influenced by Jazz music. I admire the element of improvisation in your readings. Although I don’t know that I’ve ever heard you refer to yourself as a “Jazz poet.” As far as American poets and the evolution of language are concerned, do we truly understand the richness of debt we owe to our fellow American Jazz musicians?
WA: This question brings me to my initial great experience improvised collective music universally known as Jazz. When I first listened to John Coltrane ignite Afro Blue was an experience of felt language. I knew the sound was not a condensed strategy but enabled itself as a communicative energy. Its pulsation felt right. Hearing Monk and Dolphy the intervals felt right. Then listening to Elvin Jones, Max Roach, and Roy Haynes I understood that a non-standard approach could be applied to the same medium. As I started to express myself in the English language I understood these same principles applied. I would just apply the presence of life to language and an equation would form and begin to yield verbal satisfaction. But as Max Roach once pointed out this is hard work and not the user friendly manner of paint by numbers. Charles Mingus once said find your own originality. This remains a gamble at all stages. Nothing is guaranteed except the unending search for verbal gold. Life within this tenor evolves as unmatched quintessence.
DC: What do you make of this society’s current predicaments with and approaches to the exploration of outer space?
WA: As humans we remain within a dangerous presence. We have to a large degree been convinced by the mantra of unstable wish. If you take the word belief it has evolved from the Latin term which means to wish. When combined with distance and uncountable stretches of time how does the Occidental standard of human time compare? I am more inclined to a philosophy of natural integration with the flow of time itself. Not the body as a random barrier set in opposition to a state of reality that has fostered it. The latter being the Occidental mainstream that is showing extreme fatigue as a harbinger of failure. When I saw reference to a sun that was supposed to be only 39 light years away I knew right away that general value system remains doomed. Not via ideology or religious belief but the manner in which one mathematically feels language as accuracy not unlike the balance of a painted canvas or the accuracy acknowledged that flourishes inside of indigenous mathematics. As I've recently related the nearest actual sun system to Earth is 25 trillion miles away. To approach in linear terms remains a disaster no matter if Russia, China, and America launched a combined fleet of nano-sails it remains a combined enterprise of hubris.
DC: Is creating art the most viable shamanistic endeavor available, in today’s society? What other ways do you see present-day shamans positively influencing and/or healing their people?
WA: For me my basic enterprise is creative language. Language can internally transmute capacity allowing neural connection to deeper states. An evolved neural capacity. So for me language remains the operant value, but as we opened with the capacity of music. What makes the modern state so blinded and tragic remains its compartmentalized human strategy to various areas of life. The only power it accepts is visible force, this being power that prevails by what I'll poetically call Roman Strychnine. Obviously what I am speaking of is not a transcendent bank account or momentary athletic prevalence. I am thinking of methods that invoke protracted inner sustainability.
DC: What are your motivations for creating art, music, poems?
WA: For me creativity remains a mantra and wells up from what I consider to be mysterious alter vents. A precarious strategy to be sure but one effective by means of protracted sustainability.
DC: You recently released quite a generous offering of poems in The Combustion Cycle. How has the reception of The Combustion Cycle felt to you? What kind of feedback are you getting from readers and listeners?
WA: The reception from The Combustion Cycle has been fabulous both critically as well as sales wise. I say this not out of false modesty but there are at least a half dozen books to appear after it. Three are poetry, and one on old Islamic scholarship entitled On Dar El-Hikma, and two books of essays from Litmus Press stretching into 2022 and beyond.