Finding Token Creek: New & Selected Writing, 1975-2020 - Robert Alexander
$18.00, ISBN 978-1-945680-44-1
From Richmond. Virginia, to Madison, Wisconsin, to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, this new collection by Robert Alexander spans both physical and emotional distances. Comprising prose poems and flash fiction written over the course of a 45-year career, Finding Token Creek reveals an imaginative and deeply felt connection both with other human beings and with the natural world. Jim Harrison called Alexander’s work “lucid and lovely.”
“This beautiful collection of new and selected writings from Robert Alexander’s rich career as poet, editor, scholar and critic, covers a lot of territory. And that territory is better understood as something more deep than wide, something as much below the surface as above, whether the setting is a lake in Wisconsin or a hotel room in Richmond. A master of the prose poem, that hybrid form born at the crossroads of story and poem, a place where sacred meets profane, Alexander is a lover of the natural world and the human condition, the poems as full of yearning, puzzled people as they are of birds in flight, watching the author with the same intensity that he watches them from his canoe drifting close to shore. There is an uncanny stillness, a hush at the heart of the poems that is nearly palpable. “Here, at last, is a world you can learn to call your own” (“Now the Lake Is Empty”).”
—Holly Iglesias, author of Boxing Inside the Box: Women’s Prose Poetry
“In this rich retrospective of subtly artful and distinctively American prose poems, Robert Alexander discovers sufficiency and even the marvelous in the given, presented to us with affection and clarity. In several of the compressed narratives in which he appears as his Thoreauvian alter ego Ralph, the rugged landscape of Upper Peninsula Michigan itself becomes a beloved central character. Alexander understands, just as Martin Buber said, that all true living is encounter. In these poems encounters abound, not only with the human and nonhuman but in one eerily timely poem a monument to "Calhoun the Nullifier" in the South. In its humane sympathies and breadth, Finding Token Creek beckons the reader with its promise, "Here, at last, is a world you can learn to call your own.”"
—Thomas R. Smith, author of Windy Day at Kabekona: New and Selected Prose Poems
“Robert Alexander is nothing short of a master of the prose poem. Without a need for grandiosity or excess, he takes his reader on a journey through the pages of his life, offering everyday insights and epiphanies as casually as one might offer tea to a guest. His poems are refreshing and vital, like a spring one finds in a forest. I am so happy he is here now, writing for all of us, in these dark times.”
“Any poet’s “Selected” volume is always worth waiting for, but Robert Alexander’s Finding Token Creek: New & Selected Writing, 1975–2020 seems special. It makes sense that Alexander chose the word “Writing” over “Prose Poetry” because many of the prose poems here often seem like autobiographical nature studies that someone like John McPhee might have written if he was in a heightened poetic mood. Alexander has also led off the collection with one of the best personal introductions to prose poetry I’ve ever read. But it’s the consistent generous voice that holds this collection together—a consciousness that can transform close attention to nature into a religious experience without being pretentious. He and his alter-ego Ralph are guys you’d like to go fishing or canoeing or birdwatching with, all the time with the ghost of Robert Frost sitting between you.”
—Peter Johnson, author of Old Man Howling at the Moon
Robert Alexander grew up in Massachusetts. He attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison and for several years taught in the Madison Public Schools. After receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, he worked for many years as a freelance editor. From 1993-2001, he was a contributing editor at New Rivers Press, serving the final two years as New Rivers’ creative director. Alexander is the founding editor of the Marie Alexander Poetry Series at White Pine Press. He divides his time between southern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
His books of poetry include White Pine Sucker River, What the Raven Said, and Richmond Burning. In addition he has two works of literary history, Five Forks: Waterloo of the Confederacy, and The Northwest Ordinance: Constitutional Politics and the Theft of Native Land.