Baudelaire of the 21st century. On acid.
Or Brentley Frazer, the man who knows
by Lana Durjava
Tribuna Magazine June/july 2012
Language is a virus. Language infects. Language alienates people and kills their authenticity. Language cleaves and generates repression. Language is the basic mechanism of subordination to the ruling power. Brentley Frazer, Australian poet, painter, photographer, Gonzo journalist and the founder and editor of literary magazine Retort Magazine, is all too aware of these roles and functions of language. But still. In his works the language is surely at least up to a certain level maintaining the characteristics mentioned above, but it is, nevertheless, becoming a tool of rebellion against the said, on the exploitation based principles. One could say that the language in Frazer’s poetry becomes a tool of exposing the true nature of postmodern relationships of power. Frazer is systematically and effectively using the discourse of oppressors in the fight against themselves. Continue reading –>
Brentley Frazer (is) a 21st Century Baudelaire on acid – Dazed & Confused Magazine
…as a poet and founding editor of online literary and art journal Retort Magazine, Frazer has gained an international reputation as one of the most innovative of contemporary writers. – The Courier Mail
...in A Dark Samadhi he is revealed as one of the greatest writing talents of our time. – Prat Magazine
“Brentley Frazer is a radical poet, one of Australia’s most troubling poet/editors – political, excitingly angry, playful – A Dark Samadhi is one of the best books of the 21st century, it is extraordinary – he’s one of Australia’s best...” – Todd Swift, London 2009
DEEPER UNDERGROUND: BRENTLEY FRAZER DAZED&CONFUSED MAGAZINE AUS/NZ VOL 01 #5 Oct-Nov 2007
Out-spoken and provocative, Brentley Frazer is publishing poetry that others dare not touch. Brentley Frazer may have won critical acclaim in respcted literary journals around the world, but Australia has never been quite sure what to do with this Melbourne based Poet, who comes across as a 21st Century Baudelaire on acid. “I dont believe that I’ve been accepted at all,” the 35 year old says,. “It’s like unwritten law that new poets have to somehow impress the old guard to gain acceptance, and by acceptance I mean publishing opportunities.”
Through his last three major collections, Frazer has maintained a steady attack upon the politico-economic social heirarchy, while still managing to touch at the heart of modern dislocation. “I guess my main theme is that the individual is able to see through ‘the game’ and gain a better self-definition in the process.”
Some of Frazer’z latest works delve into the brave new world of ‘hypertext poetry’ in which sentences and paragraphs can be rearranged or read in a multi-linear manner – a bit like a child’s choose your own adventure book. In this way, as well as through his use of hallucinogenic images and juxtapositions, many have compared Frazer’s writing to that of William S. Burroughs and Kafka. Considering these influences, Frazer recognises, “These other artists have understood that language is a virus – literally, a virus that has hitched a ride on the pure cells of the real mind.
BLACK MAGIC The Courier Mail Brisbane Australia 12 Sep 2003
by Hannah Brooks Photograph by Ray Cash
In the introduction to Brentley Frazer’s first book of poetry, A Dark Samadhi, esteemed Canadian writer Robert M Smith states that ‘500 years from now, the dictionary will describe George W Bush as having lived in the time of Brentley Frazer”. It’s high praise for a writer who, despite his formidable overseas reputation, is relatively unknown in his hometown of Brisbane. But as a poet and founding editor of online literary and art journal Retort Magazine, Frazer has gained an international reputation as one of the most innovative of contemporary writers. Of Smith’s comments he says: ” I was too afraid to put it in the book, but the publishers thought it was a good id ea … But the accolades don’t stop there. His work has been compared with that of William Burroughs, Charles Bukowski and Clive Barker, and he recently made the list of the Muse Apprentice Guild’s top 500 American poets – strange considering he has never set foot on the US continent. ” I’ve been published in so many really reputable American Magazines I guess they thought I was American. My old bio doesn’t say I was from Australia – maybe on purpose,” he adds, grinning. It’s a misconception particularly evident of the times, thanks to the internet and its ability to share art unhampered by traditional geographic boundaries. Retort, now 2 1/2 years old, attracts more the 500,000 hits per edition (three quarters of these from overseas), with Frazer’s personal site not lagging far behind. Frazer says his popularity overseas can simply be attributed to demographics. “A cult following in America is a million people,” he explains. “In Australia, it’s 100.” He plans to tour the US in early 2004 to promote the release of A Dark Samadhi, which is the first publication devoted exclusively to his work. Frazer’s reasoning for a foray into print is simple: ” I am hoping my book will give me more than 3 meals a week,” he says, laughing. The title of the book, A Dark Samadhi, refers to what Frazer call ” a dark enlightenment. Some things I was going through opened my eyes and it wasn’t all pretty but I attempted to find beauty in the dark.” Yet despite the books undeniably dark and arresting aura, Frazer says the main theme of the work is hope. “It goes through the whole range of human tragedy and comedy but underneath it is hope, which is what the protagonist of this book is enlightened to, amongst all the darkness of the current situation that I, myself, as a poet, and other artists find themselves in in this day and age.” While his work has been labeled political, Frazer says it wasn’t a conscious aim. ” The book does contain some particular aversions but it doesn’t set out to point the finger at any particular regime,” he says. ” I have been accused of being political, but language is political, I guess I can’t avoid betraying some of my politics with my language.” Instead, Frazer’s inspiration to write flows from a wide-eyed fascination with life. ” I write because I am constantly amazed at life. It’s just so full on,” he says, ” If you stop to think for a minute: we don’t even know what we are. We’re kind of self-defined two-legged animals. I think poetry is one of those ultimate art forms that helps comprehend a situation.” As for accusations that his work is challenging or confronting, Frazer answers that: “Poetry isn’t meant to be easy. Good art is never really easy.” Or, maybe it’s just that, as writer Fakie Wilde says in the books introduction: “You can only write literature like this if you are a really weird person.”
TODAY – The Courier Mail Brisbane Australia 12 Sep 2003
A BLEAK ENLIGHTENMENT
from Prat Magazine Issue #1 2003
A Review of A Dark Samadhi
[Brentley Frazer: PC Press ISBN 0-9750397-0-9 Australia 2003]
Prat Magazine February 2003 Issue 1 pp 12-15
Poets have long been acknowledged as an intellectual group that hold unique abilities to shape public thought. Their historical position at the very forefront of social, political, and cultural change has meant that one of the first actions of aspiring dictators has long been to silence those that weild the lyric word. Brentley Frazer may not be a name that has graced international bestseller lists as yet, but in A Dark Samadhi he is revealed as one of the greatest writing talents of our time. This collection of poetry and microtext is a fearlessly confronting yet utterly compelling dissection of the modern human condition. It overpowers, then drags its reader on a twisted journey through the dark alleyways and slum neighbourhoods of the universal metropolis. Frazer speaks with the unnerving conviction of an angry young citizen who has seen and knows too much. His words impact like bullets shot from a gun, and at books end, a graphic yet profound picture has been sprayed across the canvas of the readers mind. However, Frazer is not content to merely sicken or alarm, and swirling above the fire and fury is a sense of splendour and grace. It is this desperate struggle between redemption and damnation that earn A Dark Samadhi its masterpiece tag.
This, the fifth collection of Frazer’s work, is sure to confirm the cult status that Frazer commands within underground circles. His first 4 collections, all self published offerings, sold out within hours, and it seems an outrageous travesty that the publishing world has waited this long to identitfy his unmistakable talent. Here is writer that has been included in some of the most prestigious international compilations, has been the recpient of numerous accolades including a description as ‘ the Salvadore Dali of the written word,’ and yet it has taken some five years for a serious publishing contract to come his way. This lack of mainstream interest can probably be best attributed to Frazer’s inexorable ability to shock and unsettle, even against a backdrop almost uniform apathy. Or perhaps the umbrella of patriotism inspired censorship under which publishers are currently operating, has led to Frazer being placed in the ‘too hot’ basket until now. Whatever the case, the wait is over, and this is one author that will receive his due reward, as A Dark Samadhi captures the international attention that it so rightfully deserves.
On top of his print acreer, Frazer is the founder and editor of retortmagazine.com, an online journal of poetry and art that boasts in excess of 1000 000 hits per edition. The gravity of this statistic is only truly appreciated when it is understood that no formal publicity has ever occurred. Over half of the site’s visitors come from North America, where word of mouth has also aroused the interest of Australian, US, and other world governments, suggesting that the power of the poetic word is something that still evokes fear within the corridors and cubicles of political power. Such attention only confirms the threat to the status quo that a literary genius like Brentley Frazer represents.
a true underground poetic visionary – Identity Theory
Brentley has precise nightmares in prose! We fear them. - Exquisite Corpse Journal of Letters
as a poet and founding editor of online literary and art journal Retort Magazine, Frazer has gained an international reputation as one of the most innovative of contemporary writers… ~ The Courier Mail Brisbane Australia
a literary genius… ~ Prat Magazine
a word politician and master of communication deconstruction and reinvention… ~ PoeticInhalation.com Washington DC USA
There was a time not so long ago when I didn’t believe poetry of such tragic intensity and mercurial wit would ever be written (let alone published) in this nation of kitchen bards. ~ The Red Room Project Sydney Australia
I think it goes without saying that there are some people–and in many cases they can be theoretically cultured, regular readers of both poetry and prose–who aren’t willing to take the kinds of journeys or to give themselves over to the liquidification of conventional thought patterns that Brentley Frazer’s work provokes. - Kris Saknussemm
A Dark Samadhi is Philip K Dick melded with Andre Breton; a Rimbaud modified to produce the diaspora of Ballard. This is a post-surreal, techno-lingual savvy text that uses the oppressor’s corporatist and jingle-laden language against them. [Brentley Frazer is] powerful, brooding voice in contemporary Australian and International poetry – Brett Dionysius
-the themes are wonderfully understated and unemotional, although the topics are often violent, Some images are heavy but still it reads from far away, like Orwell’s “the land that never was” Brentley is a master of this genre, and handles his craft very subtly. He rarely steps forward to scream. Somehow, it seems unemotional and serene.
Clever. Ethereal. Medical. Evil. Brilliant. Beautiful. Grimy. Pornographic. Low-brow Art. High Porno. Vaginal. Manifesto. Poem. Talk to me…Mr. Frazer is a poetic, remarkable, spartan Writer with a gift for description, a style similar to Clive Barker and more than a passing similarity to William S. Burroughs’ inculcation (,i.e.: “but strange clear suckers filled with black blood and decorated wings like paisley, vast wings sought after religiously by taxidermists…”), and Charles Bukowski( See: Entire ouevre)…and that ain’t bad. Looking forward to reading more from this strange, erudite, neo-literate oddball. Bob Freville Staff Writer GetUnderground.com USA
A DARK SAMADHI
Melbourne Launch October 2003
Speech/Review by Brett Dionysius
© Copyright Brett Dionysius 2003
Early on in A Dark Samadhi, we get an indication of the type of poetry manifesto that Brentley Frazer has been writing for well over a decade now, his sublime, neo-symbolic, maladapted, but forward thinking imagined world. In the poem “Abstract Building (hands)” Frazer suggests that, “We all have the technology, access to the symbols, the perfume to/make it pretty, the gloss to make it sell. Only a few in the herd hear the word, a particular sleight of syllable.” Frazer is like the first beast of a bewildered pack to sense a new danger, to flare its nostrils, lift its head, and hunt for the source of this unarticulated malice.
A universal “I” rages throughout this text; a disturbed, triumphant, paranoid, self-proclaimed inheritor of our neural system meltdowns, that unleashes multi-tonal diseases to ravage the ‘lyric’ carcass. This is anti-lyric (anti-high aesthetic, capital “P”) poetry at its very best; the signification of human experience is rarely epiphanous, reality is almost always discordant, a come down of intellectual and emotive grief, “East of certainty that’s for sure” As the poet relates in the poem “Juggling with Nothing”, “we crossed the void in yellow linen safari/suits, carrying mobile phones and a giant stash of miracle/thirst quenchers. Truth, beside you, carries two things, and neither seem useful.” The history of Western philosophy and religion is inverted by the slick techno-gods, cast down into metaphysic ruin, and out of these ontological ashes society grows a new dream skin; mottled, alien the Petri dish filthy.
In A Dark Samadhi the human soul puts up brave resistance against the forces of ‘Narrowspeak’ as Les Murray has called them or ‘Newspeak’ as George Orwell did. These forces that even now put a knee in the small of the worlds’ back & apply excessive political, social, economic and cultural pressure. In the poem “Memorandum for the Birds” Frazer describes our apparent powerlessness against the technocrats, oilmen and industrial-military complex; “You could have just taken me apart with/the ease of a machine.” Sounds just like when US soldiers opened up with MI Bradley Fighting vehicles & 30 calibre machine guns on a van during the Iraq War, containing an extended family, that quickly became brutally “unextended”. But Frazer rallies us against this defeat of our common and resistant psyche as in, “Watering an Uneasy Beast”, when he warns us against becoming “digital insects” and suggests that we, “don’t just give them something to read, infect them with a memory.”
Frazer is post-romantic in his investigation of the 21st century human condition; as this line from “Plastic Daffodil” suggests; “Her mouth is where I hung my soul, an ode in a round window.” This sentiment undercuts both our 19th century romantic and 20th century colloquial assertions of the ‘self’. Or even musing on the mystery of universal suffering as in the poem, “Tempting Sleep”, Frazer looks for the abnormal, even the para-normal to explain these, “Exit wounds without an entry point”, but discovers instead, a banality of human metaphysics overridden by hyper-natural despair, or “a dance of movement on the back of a wardrobe, an intricate waltz bled there by wood.”
For Frazer, we inhabit a ‘shapeless’ body that is yielding to the ministrations of conventional dogma, becoming dumber, obese, brain dead and impotent as in “A Dog Theology” where “the blunt edge of shadows hit us through phonebooks”, or not surprisingly, we inhabit all three states simultaneously, a “kingdom of joined together heads. A tinny symphony of cheap die-cast clockwork, a little lonely if it happens to be evening.”
A Dark Samadhi is Philip K Dick melded with Andre Breton; a Rimbaud modified to produce the diaspora of Ballard. This is a post-surreal, techno-lingual savvy text that uses the oppressor’s corporatist and jingle-laden language against them. Like the smart arse kid who always sat at the back of the class and pushed the Maths teacher that little bit further, until the imploded in hollow anger, Frazer tempts the reader to counter-experience the world as we know it, to reorganize and reprocess our consumer enhanced daze. Or as the poet says in ‘Blood Psalm’, “…What do you do, there is no menu bar on the screen.”
A powerful, brooding voice in contemporary Australian and International poetry, a voice that has (secretly) simmered away for ten years, has now shifted to the front hot plate of human debate, the heat turned up. I declare A Dark Samadhi: poems and microtexts duly launched.
© Copyright Brett Dionysius 2003
Speedpoets, Best of 2003, Impressed Publishing. ISBN 0-9751618-3-0. price $A16.45.Reviewed by Justin Lowe There is a vibrant scene in Brisbane, by all accounts, right across the creative spectrum, and in the past few years it has produced some formidable poetic talents – Paul Hardacre and Brentley Frazer being the two towering figures to emerge so far, in my humble opinion. In fact, this collection opens with a generous sample of Frazer’s work, and I’m still undecided whether that was a wise decision on the editors’ part. You see, Frazer knows precisely what he wants to say. He goes straight to the heart of the matter, but once he’s in there he likes to take a look around. All his poems are journeys. He seems to have an entire universe stored away in his head just bursting to get out, and his mastery of poetic and narrative technique is at times truly breath-taking. Like all true artists, he makes it all seem so effortless. Unfortunately, at least for this collection, nothing else that follows comes anywhere near the mark.
Speedpoets, Best of 2003, Impressed Publishing. ISBN 0-9751618-3-0. price $A16.45.Reviewed by Justin Lowe
beautiful, unfinished – MTC Cronin (Salt Publishing,2003)
a dark samadhi – Brentley Frazer (PC Press, 2003)
Reviewed by Justin Lowe
As a young, pimply, virginal adolescent I was much taken by Andre Gide, by the loss of mind (and apparent intent) and the proximity of (writing) hand to heart. It seemed like the word of God to me, nebulous as my own pubescent desires. But over a relatively brief period the lustre faded. What had before seemed pure and spontaneous suddenly seemed stilted and contrived, as though some great violence had been visited upon me. I felt empty again, deaf to the song of the world. Then I discovered the visceral outpourings of Nabokov, Dostoevsky, Kafka, Joyce, Pound, Celan et al. They became great friends of mine, but the pang of that first love never left me and nothing could quite replace it. I’m sure most of you know what I mean. Nothing smells like the first car we sat in, the first person who ever kissed us back.
However I have been fortunate enough to survive not just into a new millenium, but into an entirely new epoch. One in which peace is proving more deadly than war, where democracy has become galvanized as the dictatorship of the mean, and where the word has been poked and prodded so often by the spin doctors of either God or Caesar that it has come out of hibernation with teeth bared and foaming at the mouth
Why can we not find out
more than television?
like two identical buildings
we cannot feel god
Cannot feel the pitch-black pain
of the joined
(MTC Cronin – Canto LXV)
A sentence for you. We are in a lake and glory floats past
us. On her shoulder perched a very complex nightingale;
with silent finger points at an animal in the camera. Only a
clown lights a fire and laughs as he puts it out. Fear would
then rise up with its battalion of shadows, part animal part
angel, as I had imagined it. War in the evenings when
insects beat their wings. War in your hair this morning.
(Brentley Frazer – 365 Day Guarantee)
For 10,000 years poets have been asking: why war? There has never been a satisfactory answer, but what these two books tell me is that perhaps war is simply because it alone of all our dubious progeny fuses us to the moment. In war past and future all but evaporate, the moment is everything and here we have two poets not only brave enough to face up to this new doubly terrifying universe, but who possess the requisite genius (by which I mean dexterity) to take a handful of that awful perennial moment and sculpt it before it dries like clotted blood
I, like a dejected apostle, have so rarefied the organ of
sight and the use of symbol as avenue for observation that
I have become a sinner in the pantomime. God, from his
box seat up in the exclusive members area may have said -
where do you begin, o dancer, to sing the chorus from all
those tragedies you so despise; and then – are you mute
child or are there weeds in your ears?
(Brentley Frazer – Writing Proverbs in the Mould)
We have no more need of these lands
The sky has a very hard heart
And we want it to
There is a peculiar trust in the tyrant
Who knows how brittle bone
Was it the air that snapped our legs and broke our arms?
But looking up there is no answer
Slay the dragon knave and the fairytale may come back to our
We have need of the land for graves
(MTC Cronin – Song of Bone)
There was a time not so long ago when I didn’t believe poetry of such tragic intensity and mercurial wit would ever be written (let alone published) in this nation of kitchen bards. To be honest, I never imagined in even my most intense hydro/amphetamine see-sawing visions, that times would ever get this tight. That I, like Milosz, would be huddled in a doorway watching bullets tear up the street to my home. Indeed, that we would all be held hostage by the very air we breath, by which of course I mean language. I guess I should have read my Milosz more closely.
Of the two poets, Cronin is far more prone to the historic kaleidoscope, Frazer far more suspicious of stories passed down to us as fact. If I could fault him it would be on this point, except there’s no fault on his part, only a point, and that point is literally that: not anything as tremulous as an argument or a posture, nothing that casts a shadow
In this boat on these waters
I have floated before, tho’
then, the arms that reached
to save me had no hands, and
now I feel their nails pierce
I have been brave enough
to wash my own blood from
the planks and in the process
learned a thing or two of love
but now as the water fills my
lungs, all I want to do is dance.
(Brentley Frazer – The Drowning Review)
Where Frazer has perhaps argued with History in private, Cronin prefers to do her arguing on the page
I am numb to the last pain
of the last man
so many eyes
a common moon
violence comes hopefully up
from misused hands
only a necessity
like the well sunk
where there was no water
and digging by my side
the man whose face
I couldn’t see
trying to drink
the earth from a tin
(MTC Cronin – From a Tin)
It is important stuff, this. For too long there was only speak or listen, noise or silence, but in this new epoch there are no barricades, no front lines, no sparring. All is stealth and subterfuge, the visceral made manifest where poets laugh and cry over the same tiny word. Anyone who wants to know who fired off those flares on the pitted horizon should buy these books. Like the times they’re razor wire sharp and wild and ancient as the last lie uttered with a smile.
After the revolution: A talk with Brentley Frazer.
Ben Doran – 2nd July 2003
Brisbane poet Brentley Frazer: PC Press have recently released Brentley’s first book A Dark Samadhi and already he has garnered some great press with one reviewer describing the text as revealing “one of the greatest writing talents of our time.” Brentley is also the man behind Retort Magazine: An online journal of ideas, poetry, literature and art. Retort was recently listed by UK press giant The Guardian as being one of the world’s top ten online sources of new litrarary talent. He is also this month’s Creatwire Poet in Residence judge.
OK Brentley, I’ll start with something light before I start probing you with the rough stuff. Your first book A Dark Samadhi was released earlier this year, tell me what it felt like to finally have someone tell you that they were going to get behind your work and how did the relationship between you and PC press come about?
The key to getting a collection of poetry optioned by a publishing house, that do not expect you to give them any money, and not a publisher that comes sniffing if you happen to land a grant, is to get at least 50% of the collection published in magazines, literary journals, newspapers and the like. I made it to 90% of the collection being previously published before I was approached by PC Press. Interestingly enough it was my 5 self published books (Opera of Destruction 1990, Oneirodynia 1992, Facetiae’s 1994, Blood Psalms 1995, Fugue 1996) and the fact that these books all sold out within weeks of publication (runs of 300-500 hundred), that secured my first ‘real’ publishing contract. PC Press approached me through my personal website www.brentley.com which they found by reading the magazine I publish and edit on the Internet www.retortmagazine.com It has taken 12 months for my book to actually appear and it has been in what is referred to as ‘the distribution process’ as we speak, which basically means – fuck it is hard to convince the public that poetry is cool, marketing poetry is a bloody nightmare etc for the last 3 months. The collection took 6 years to write, a year to get into print from first interest being expressed… it’s quite a process.
You spoke on a panel I organized last year for the Straight out of Brisbane festival that dealt with this topic a bit but I’d like to come back to the issue now that you have something of your own released in hard copy: Where do you think the future of poetry publishing lies? Are poets more likely to establish a readership online, are more readers turning away from hard copy literary journals because they can get the same material online without having to pay and if so, where is the money or are the days when someone could aspire to be a professional writer/poet almost dead?
Right now the internet is the best place to try and get your work published. A massive potential readership is the main allure and also the opportunities that result from getting yourself a name on the internet. Since I began my campaign on the web, a series of ‘submission Assaults’ every couple of months, with new fresh material, often yields excellent results. I have managed to get myself published in some of the worlds most reputable electronic magazines which in turn led to publication in some very important hardcopy anthologies such as Short Fuse – global anthology of new fusion poetry published by Rattapallax Press, one of New York’s most famous contemporary publishing houses. As for readers turning to the web for freebies, that is all beginning to change, which is not surprising in an era of user pays. The major magazine Salon.com recently went completely paid-subscribers only, and a lot of the other larger magazines are beginning to limit free content. I believe that we will see a trend developing where internet magazines that establish a sizeable readership will go to paper with online versions as teasers and a storefront to order the trade copy. I think that most of them will be successful, mainly because of established readerships of serious literature lovers, but also because this is what Retort intends to do and I don’t want it to fail. Opportunities for poets are out there, just not as plentiful, yet, as they are for visual or musical artists. It is personal commitment to your art that makes the difference… unless you are born rich, then you have no excuse. I am not entirely sure what makes one a ‘professional’ besides the assumption that it means you get paid for your work. I have many a time been commissioned to write poems by visual artists, musicians and magazines, publishers of anthologies and to appear in festivals or to accompany dj’s etc and while all of these opportunities did not offer cash payment I would say they are professional or in most cases at least aspire to be. I have also been paid for my poetry, many times, but not much.
One thing that I really enjoy about your new book is that it aims high, your poetry is not afraid to ask some of life’s big questions and seek answers. I’m currently reading Czeslaw Milosz’ book of selected essays To begin Where I Am. In one essay he looks at the work of T.S Eliot and refers to his poetry as dealing with the central problem of art as a “…value creating act” set against a world “…emptied of values”. Is this task of value creation something you consider to be important in your own work? What is the role of the poet in a world that has largely turned its back on a voice that was once so important to the cultural and even political matrix of a society?
So long as our civilisation is increasingly governed by corporate interests and the manipulation of exploited needs is the key political agenda and the banks are allowed to commit the crime of usury upon the people and our ruling parties continue to allow the technofeudal semantic cancer of socialist agendas like ‘sustainable development’ to creep across our cities and poison the crops with genetically modified strains of biocidal seed, then the future of not only publishing poetry, but the future of the very poets themselves is as stable as a one armed paperhanger up a ladder on a windy day. Historically Poets have been at the forefront of many a revolution, perhaps it is time to formally organise a group of serious guerilla ontologists. The system after all is a big machine in your own head, the role of the poet is to come along and pull out some wires and a bunch of pins and laugh as the machine falls apart. The role of the poet has always been this. Essentially that is why poets are no longer put in any major spotlights… nothing pisses off ‘the fat controller’ more than a mass of people who are capable of thinking things through for themselves. Language might just be a virus after all, although from my point of view the combination of what I said earlier about being governed by corporate interests, postmodern manipulation of earlier developed imagist techniques and the use of mass media to imply lifestyles is an uber mindvirus that is set to get nasty. The word ‘Value’ is definitely a prime example of what I am talking about.
Just out of curiosity I’d like to know where do you get on with the task of writing; on notepads out and about or only whilst in trance-it at home in front of a computer, do you resist the temptation to write until you feel compelled to get something down or do you have a routine that forces you to produce X amount of material per day in the hope that something good will fall out?
To me writing is not a task, it’s more of a necessary therapy and sometimes a drug. I write primarily in note form in a book that if I don’t have then I’ve been robbed. As for being in a trance, we are always all in a trance when in front of a computer so I only use a machine to finalise a text for submission and for experimental purposes, like cut-ups. If I ever manage to get a novel down on paper I will most definitely use a computer, screw typing out 50 thousand words of my handwriting. If my writing ever became routine I would probably commit suicide or something equally as boring.
Tell me a little about Retort magazine; what I like about the site is that it touches on a lot of different area’s of the arts world and has a distinctly international flavour, where do you see Retort on the menu of people’s already crammed plate of cultural consumables?
Retort Magazine is getting quite large as far as magazine websites go. Currently we have 17,000 readers a month spend an average of 22 minutes reading Retort content. This is quite remarkable considering that we have never formally advertised and have absolutely no money. Retort continues to grow and grow and it is purely because of the excellent creative content that we receive in our submissions inbox. Our policy is to provide opportunities for artists/writers based purely on the quality of their work. We have published some of Australia’s and the worlds most recognised poets artists and writers alongside some newcomers who have never been published before. It is true that we favour material that is blatantly against the grain, or experimental and this is also what attracts the more serious artists/writers.
I’ll just finish off with some quick questions:
Name some contemporary poets you are really digging at the moment?
I am a fan of Alice Rose Crow from Alaska, I really like Barbara Jela Christo’s writings, I am not sure where she is living. I dig Robert Lort’s writing, he is local.. Janet Buck from the US is a favourite… Robert M Smith from Canada is my favourite living ‘beat writer’ though he hates being called that. I respect what a lot of my contemporaries are doing here in Brisbane; I publish all of these writers and poets in Retort Magazine whenever I can.
What other websites do you visit to get a hit of some of that good good stuff?
Sites in the vein of Retort – 3ammagazine.com in paris, nthposition.com in london, getunderground.com in los Angeles… I am a fan of geurillanews.com, godlikeproductions.com message board where ALL the crazies live…
What album are you listening to most at the moment?
Retort just received the lastest 2 screamfeeder singles in the mail for review purposes, I have been listening to those, and I’m going to buy Tricky’s new album tomorrow.
Should someone kill sports poet Rupert McCall and if so how?
While I am a pacifist and do my damdest to avoid physical violence I am not entirely sure that I would swerve should said sports poet leap out in front of my car.
brentley…master of precision
…a dark samadhi reviewed by star…
for Poetic Inhalation Washington DC USA
only one man is able to transform poetry and literature…written art…to the highest level of exploratory expression with graceful manipulation…
brentley frazer the creator and editor of retort magazine shares today’s most mind challenging and enlightening writing sound and art electronically from selected artists all over the world with readers all over the world…the daily updates and bimonthly volumes of retort magazine are the most progressive on the internet today…needless to say retort is the saving mint freshness from the redundancy of online magazines who profess world wide web supremacy…the carefully plucked visions from a secret garden of rising and already soaring creatives are the voices and visions of today as well as tomorrow…including brentley himself…
to read a dark samadhi…his compilation of poems and microtexts…is a journey of the mind…brentley shines bright bold and blinding as the well known word politician and master of communication deconstruction and reinvention…his experimentation with english prime as in putting your fingers into a stinky puppet and talent for smashing the barriers and excels reader expectation as well as surpasses the accomplishments of many if not all current literary figures published on the world wide web and in print…
just as effective if not more powerful is brentley the skilled word magician…master of evocative precision…his language speaks to everyone…based on a familiar world…reality…brentley weaves the known into a delicate…rich…deeply vivid…and alive human tapestry…
i embrace the warmth of his dark beauty…
In this boat on these waters
I have floated before, tho’
then, the arms that reached
to save me had no hands, and
now I feel their nails pierce
I have been brave enough
to wash my own blood from
the planks and in the process
learned a thing or two of love
but now as the water fills my
lungs, all I want to do is dance.
…The Drowning Review
with gossamer lightness i immerse myself in his heavy visions…
The expression of a music-box ballerina often betrays her
yearning for a little more plasticity. The tune she moves
her eternal tutu to is often evocative of the sometimes
contents of the box which sprawl before her plastic pearls
like a kingdom of joined together heads. A tiny symphony
of cheap die-cast clockwork, a little lonely if it happens to
…Unknown Music Box Tune
and dance rhythmically in the beauty of his inner world…
in the shallows, your skin
& your hair, it will not be long now.
I will find faith & covet her, as
the salt cloying your lashes.
on the blue wall that floats
& these hands, grateful as an
e-note upon the symphony of your lips,
held you there, but for a moment,
yet for an eternity. in my heart
there is a star I stole for you,
it will burn dull beside the other
memories, the assorted longings &
the china swans your voice sculpts
behind you as you glide.
…It will not be long now (I will be believing in shadows)
brentley is a visionary who projects the past present and future of mankind…precisely molds the basic skill of human expectation capability and knowledge…transcends the ordinary into a uniquely picturesque and passionate art form…