Charles Alexander (poet and book artist)
Charles Alexander (born 1954) is an American poet, publisher, and book artist. He is the director and editor-in-chief of Chax Press, one of the only independent presses which specializes in innovative poetry and the book arts. Alexander also served as the Director of the Minnesota Center for the Book Arts from 1993 until 1995, and as book artist there through 1996. Alexander lives in Tucson, AZ with his wife the visual artist Cynthia Miller and his two daughters. He is the recipient of the 2006 Arizona Arts Award.
Alexander and the Poet/Printer Tradition
Alexander's ongoing work with Chax Press is informed by a tradition of poet/printers that includes William Blake, William Morris, and Robert Creeley. He learned many fine arts bookmaking techniques studying with Walter Hamady at the University of Wisconsin Department of Fine Arts in Madison, Wisconsin during the late seventies and early eighties, a time of particular ferment in the book arts, whose culminating moment was the presentation of Breaking the Bindings: American Book Art Now by the Elvehjem Museum in Madison. This was the first museum-scale book arts exhibition in the United States; Alexander was the lead writer on a team that wrote the introduction to the exhibition catalogue.
Alexander's books of poetry include Hopeful Buildings (Chax Press, 1990), arc of light | dark matter (Segue Books, 1992), Pushing Water: parts one through six (Standing Stones Press, Morris, MN, 1998), Pushing Water: part seven (Chax Press, Tucson),Four Ninety Eight to Seven (Meow Press, 1996), Etudes: D & D (Quarry Press, 1997), near or random acts (Singing Horse Press, 2004), and Certain Slants (Junction Press, 2007). He is also the editor of an important collection of essays on the book arts that emanated from the symposium Art & Language: Re-Reading the Book Arts, that he organized for Minnesota Center for the Book Arts in 1994. The book was titled Talking the Boundless Book. Alexander is an eclectic poet whose influences include b.p.nichol, Edward Dorn, Paul Metcalf, Hannah Weiner, Stan Brakhage, Ronald Johnson, and especially the Black Mountain poets Robert Duncan, Charles Olson, and Robert Creeley. Since 1997 he has been working on a long serial poem entitled Pushing Water which is still in process.
Teaching and Performance
Alexander has given readings, lectures, and workshops at colleges, universities, art centers, and other locations, including the Univ. of Alabama, the Univ. of Arizona, the State Univ. of New York at Buffalo, Small Press Traffic in San Francisco, Canessa Gallery in San Francisco, the University of Washington, Pacific Lutheran Univ. in Tacoma, Denver Univ., Scottsdale Center for the Arts, Toronto (Canada) Art Studio, and more. Alexander has also performed poetry in galleries and art centers, has collaborated with musicians and dancers, and in general brings to poetry a broad sense of artistic and collaborative possibility. Such collaborations include a poem/visual art mark commissioned by the Phoenix Public Library, created with artist Cynthia Miller; and collaborations on several projects with Orts Theater of Dance, including Urban Gaits and Balanced Edge. His poem, Aviary Corridor, set to music for string quartet, piano, flute, and soprano voice by the American composer Tim Risher, premiered at the University of Washington in April 2007, with Alexander as writer/artist in residence. He read for the Double Change series in Paris in June 2007 and participated in the Paris TAMAAS Poetry Translation Seminar.
Alexander is a part-time faculty member at Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in Boulder, Colorado, Pima Community College and the University of Arizona Poetry Center. He also teaches independent courses to the community in creative writing, literature, and the book arts.