Interview: Brentley Frazer

most people i know would love to have my job…i telecommute…i spend long hours every day face to face with my laptop screen talking and interacting with underground artists writers and poets from around the globe…in all my internet travels and communications i recently stumbled upon an astounding treasure

i do not remember exactly how i came across this evolutionary wealth of words…however i do remember i read all night long as well as the night after and the night after…i was enraptured by the variety and outstanding quality of written and visual art…the depth of thought and truly experimental creativity

the mastermind behind this highly innovative online splendor…retort magazine…is an extraordinary and accomplished poet and visual artist with a charming wit in brisbane australia…brentley frazer

Brentley Frazerbrentley has performed his work professionally and been in print for over ten years…his personal website is a portal to a plethora of notable national and international publications in which his written art has appeared as well as a long list of festivals and venues in
which brentley has performed…once inside you cannot resist entering each door…immersing yourself and feasting on the words of this true underground poetic visionary

whether his interest in poetry derived from genetics…his grandmother being a published poet…or the fact that his father was a policeman which forced him into being an observer he remembers carrying a notebook in school and being more interested in writing down my observations than in lessons…i cannot remember not having an interest in poetry…i was the only kid not to groan when it came to the study of poetry

it is his innate and uncanny observational skills that distinguish his work from the ordinary and allow him to paint…with brush or word or sound…a unique and altered yet truthful perspective of the world…everything indeed appears as nothing more than our individual perception of it…for the most part reality as we know it is a mass hallucination…which probably explains how televisions work

count baudelaire…rimbaud…lautremont…and mandlestam are among his major literary inspirations and heironymous bosch…basquait and william burroughs as visual inspirations…what really turned me on to sound was all the stuff i listened to obsessively in the 1980s…cabaret voltaire…jesus and mary chain…joy division…the birthday party…diamanda galas…when alternative actually meant what it says…the major influences on his work as a whole include occultist painter poet philosopher austin spare…american poet performer steven j bernstein and the notorious witch of kings cross rosaleen norton…these people were alchemists…the artist as alchemist…no doubt dangerous to established modes of thinking

who wishes to be creative must first smash and destroy accepted values…nietzsche…

brentley is also dangerous yet unlike his influential predecessors brentley is highly respected by his colleagues…brentley is complex…subversive…talented and wonderful…says internationally known poet jayne fenton keane…there is a strong theoretical background to his work and it is easy to miss what he is doing because of the seamlessness of his product…she explains you need to talk to brentley to understand what is going on sometimes because he investigates things that are outside mainstream concerns

brentley successfully sets himself aside from and challenges the mainstream…he says the very process of experimentation with language is enlightening…if you consider that a newborn human merely absorbs the prevalent language being used around them you realize that this results in a narrow and conditioned thinking

putting your finger into a stinky puppet is a clear example of his deep exploration of expression and experimentation…after reading the 1933 book science and sanity by alfred korzybski and learning of english prime he was convinced that we have serious faults in our linguistic programming

in 1998 brentley lived in a very dostoyevskian house in fortitude valley in brisbane on a corner very popular with prostitutes and drug dealers…

my window looked straight out into the action…on a regular basis i saw some terrible things happen outside that window so i thought i would write about it in eprime

when using eprime all tenses of the verb to be are deliberately excluded…brentley says when you try to describe being you end up with a description of doingall the action outside my window was people doing things…this of course opens up a big can of poo for many established modes of thinking…especially for the government who tell us all the time that people are criminals…that that person is a prostitute or a drug dealer

in my opinion reading the text is like reading poetry…like his microtexts his poetry is highly descriptive…surreal and to varying degrees dark…a new book of poems and microtexts written in eprimed hypertextural phonetic format is in the works…recently after six years brentley completed his collection a dark samadhi…again many of these texts are written in the prototype of this new formula…while he searches for a publisher for this manuscript brentley has established himself solidly as an internet publisher

brentley intended to publish a web based magazine from the day i first read about the advent of the internet…in the early nineties i tried to get paper magazines off the ground but they always crashed due to financial problems…

 





the ability to publish on the internet is exactly the same as having a printing press in your garage…true freedom of the press can be maintained so long as the integrity of the internet remains


 

like many of the underground writers and artists i have talked to brentley also founded retort magazine out of sheer frustration at the lack of publishing opportunities for experimental artists…as i am finding worldwide brentley says in australia poetry is practically ignored by the mainstream press and the publishing houses that do produce collections of poetry and short fiction routinely cough up total crap…one cannot disagree with brentley that it is a fact that large established publishing houses are out to preserve the consensus version of reality

brentley is also the editor designer and webmaster and regularly receives submissions from internationally known authors who explain that the accompanying text had been deemed untouchable by their regular publishers…this is what retort is all about…it literally means what it says and says what it means

…he who is lawless is free…necessity and time are conventional phenomena…austin osman spare…

according to brentley several distinct factions of performance poets exist in brisbane…there are those that are seemingly supported by the government for any piece of crap they produce…there are those that linger in the bukowski school of thought and they hold rare but fun performance slams in pubs and there is lots of drinking and fighting and missing teeth…and then there is the really experimental stuff…

 

there are lots of underground things happening in brisbane and there are a lot of very serious artists in all fields working here

brentley is one of those serious artists…his goals are the same as any self respecting artist…to be able to support myself by doing what i do best…his soul is poetry…brentley is a poet…he considers all of his creative output to be multi medium poetry…poems in different mediums


 


since 1996 poet and fiction writer melissa ashley from queensland has toured with brentley and seen him perform at numerous venues and festivals in and around brisbane and in sydney and newcastle…his whole life centers around his commitments to art…over the years he has forged a niche for himself…over here it is always a struggle to make a living as an artist…being an artist is quite a difficult lifestyle but brentley takes it seriously and will be around for quite some time

over the past six months ms ashley has witnessed brentley working extremely hard towards securing a long term future and growing readership for retorthe has poured massive amounts of time and energy into providing poets visual artists fiction writers and the like with an excellently designed public forum in which to showcase their work…furthermore he continues to support the brisbane poetry scene by coming along to readings and helping out in terms of working in the bar or stacking chairs

occasionally brentley collaborates with other artists and poets to produce events…before he started publishing his close friend and colleague adam pettet and he collaborated on a monthly event called the vision area…


we ran it for twelve months during 1999 in the coolest bar in brisbane in the heart of the cultural precinct…aka fortitude valley…the vision area showcased over fifty artists in fields ranging from spoken word to teddy bear torture…packed out the bar every time


currently brentley is involved in speedpoets…a collaboration first hypothesized by his friend and contemporary poet fakie wilde who also lives and works in brisbane…the idea came together one night when a group of poets brought together by fakie all got really trashed and read poetry in wild abandon to loud random music…soon after they found a venue and a band named icon who has an unpredictable nature…brentley explains there is no formal collaboration…we just celebrate the randomness

ms fenton keane has seen speedpoets in performance several times…there is an openness and improvisatory aspect to the performance…personally i like what they do…brentley is very comfortable working with musicians and he brings a subtle and considered atmosphere to the speedpoet readings…this creates an interesting juxtaposition

the speedpoets have been throwing around some ideas about using each other as filters by performing each others work unannounced…as brentley explains speedpoets is becoming post post futurist in a sense…we are perhaps going to achieve what we intended…the destruction of language…well at least that is why i am involved in this project

 

fortunately the internet provides virtual access to his work…brentley has been reality hacking for about fifteen years now in australia…unfortunately i have not managed to get myself off of this old penal colony at the bottom of the earth as yet

however jpgs of his visual art and black letters on a white screen are not enough…clearly brentley is meant to be experienced live…his powerful words are designed for the ear as well as the page as he brings his experiments in sight and sound to the stage


 

currently brentley is recording a jazzy trance ep with dj nim that will most likely be sent out as a demo…ms ashley says the ambient tunes add another layer to his work…this works in excellently as he has a good sense of rhythm…she has also seen him perform with html visual scapes and text projected on screen

ms ashley describes his poetry performance as understated…laid back…as we call it in australia…but because of the power of his words and the often quite transgressive nature of many of his poems he has the room enthralled…he has a mysterious kind of charm which stems from being quite publicly reticent and reserved…a prime example is his soundpoem…slowshadow

his advice for aspiring poets is most likely the best advice anyone could ever give or receive...avoid cliche like the plague…read the symbolists and the surrealists…buy a good pen…embrace non dualistic methods of thinking…burn down the universities

…for more information on brentley frazer…

brentley
retort magazine
working with e prime

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