Charles Alexander

Charles Alexander (Poetry) | Victoria, TX

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Charles Alexander is an artist, poet, bookmaker, and founder/director of Chax Press. Author of 5 full-length books of poetry and 10 brief chapbooks of poetry, editor of one critical work on the state of the book arts in America, author of multiple essays, articles, and reviews. Most recent books of poetry are Pushing Water, published by Cuneiform Press, and the chapbooks Some Sentences Look for Some Periods and Two Pushing Waters, from Little Red Leaves Textile Series. Alexander has taught literature and writing at Naropa University, the University of Arizona, and elsewhere, and currently is Poet & Designer in Residence at the University of Houston-Victoria, where he directs the MFA Creative Writing Program and co-curates programs for the UHV Center for the Arts. He is a past recipient of the Arizona Arts Award, and has participated in the TAMAAS Poetry Translation Project in Paris. In January 2016 he served as a faculty member for US Poets in Mexico. He lives in Victoria, Texas, with his partner, the painter Cynthia Miller.


Pushing Water (Chax, 2011). Poetry.
Certain Slants (Junction, 2007). Poetry.
Near or Random Acts (Singing Horse, 2004). Poetry.

arc of light | dark matter (Segue Books, 1992). Poetry.
Hopeful Buildings (Chax Press, 1990). Poetry.


  • Two Pushing Waters (Little Red Leaves, 2015). Poetry.
  • Some Sentences Look for Some Periods (LRL, 2013). Poetry.
  • plus another 8 poetry chapbooks

Blurbs, Press & Reviews

Pushing Water

“‘[T]hrough the tunnel pushing water’: the first appearance of this image in Charles Alexander’s serial poem arises as if in a dream, and that sense of dream persists throughout this long and complex work (‘the dream pushes up from under the water’). Yet, ‘pushing water’ also becomes a metaphor of body, of breath, of heartbeat, blood and brain, of consciousness itself, time and history, rendered in diverse poetic forms. Alexander embraces language and the bodies of work that comprise the touchstones of English poetry from the ‘word hoard’ of the Anglo-Saxons through Shakespeare and Greville, Dickinson, and Williams, Olson and Creeley. Without having done an actual word count, ‘love’ and ‘syllable’ (the beat or rhythm of the word) seem to me to be the most frequently used in this poem of love, language, and love of language”
—Beverly Dahlen

There are some caveats here. The first is that I’ve thought of Charles Alexander as a master poet for some time now, at least since Hopeful Buildings (1990) & arc of light / dark matter (1992). But as too often happens with poets who live away from the urban centers on either coast, my own sense of this has not caught on as widely as I think it should. I don’t see how anyone can read Pushing Water & not sense the mastery & scale with which Alexander is working.
—Ron Silliman

Near or Random Acts

A shy, unassuming charm to this volume; the 1st half is 70 7-line, 5-word-per-line sections, the second half a further run of such poems, this time interspersed with Alexander’s notebook entries & notes on the manuscript & compositional process. An “opening-up,” as it were. The parallels of the 1st 70 poems – “near or random acts” – with Zukofsky’s 80 Flowers are obvious (Alexander himself makes the connection in an author’s note at the end): the word-count constraints, the quotidian nature of much of the material, (sometimes) the allusions. But Alexander’s aren’t LZ’s hyper-dense nuggets impacted history, philology, & allusion, whatever inspiration he may have taken from Zukofsky’s last completed work. Instead, they’re rather airy, highly musical units, suffused more often than not with a quizzical wonder at the spectacle of the poet’s growing young daughters. A rather rare thing for me lately, & a very welcome one – a book of unabashed & enthusiastic love.
—Mark Scroggins

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