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 doing...all 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...

 

media 1806

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...

 

media 1808

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
retort
...he 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

 

media 1812

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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