Thursday, June 8, 2023

GAS Featured Poet/Artist: Vernon Frazer

 Vernon Frazer has written more than thirty books of poetry, three novels and a short story collection. His poetry, fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Aught, Big Bridge, First Intensity, GAS, Jack Magazine, Lost and Found Times, Moria, Miami SunPost, Muse Apprentice Guild, Sidereality, Xstream and many other literary magazines. He introduced IMPROVISATIONS at The Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church in Manhattan.  

 Working in multi-media, Frazer has performed his poetry with the late saxophonist Thomas Chapin, the Vernon Frazer Poetry Band and as a solo poet-bassist. His jazz poetry recordings and multimedia work are available on Youtube.


Frazer's notes about his work:

I consider poems such as “One Experienced Consequence” a fusion of textual and visual poetry. The textual and and graphic elements are equally important. The work is abstract. The reader can assemble the textual and visual elements in multiple combinations and make multiple interpretations. Each completed poem carrries a thread of interpretation—to my mind—but the reader can find other Interpretations that suggest a “meaning” inherent in the poem’s “being.”

As long as I’ve written these pieces, poets have debated whether I’m a visual poet. About ten years ago, I published T(exto)-V(isual Poetry, a phrase I use without feeling fully comfortable. I’ve heard “verbovisual”used in relation to other poets, but it could apply to my work as well. I don’t seek to define the work I do; I seek to do it. If I’ve actually created a new subgenre, I’d feel good about making the contribution.

Its origins, like my life, aren’t simple. At 15, Charles Olson was the first poet to influence my style. Then, my poetry frequently used the page as a “field” before I knew Olson in greater depth. When I studied bass with Bertram Turetkzy in the mid-1960s, he introduced me to the experimental arts of the era; through Turetzky I learned John Cage was an innovative writer as well as composer. When some UConn students were assembling a college literary magazine that seemed to break every rule the English deparment could propose, I had a flash “sixties” vision that my writing would “look the way it does” today. But it didn’t start to happen until the late 1990s.

In 1998, I reached a creative crisis. To remain fresh, I had to use language differently. Henry Miller repeated his “rosy crucifixon” story a number of times in his long lfie. Retelling my life didn’t challenge me. Once was enough. Then, a confluence of sorts immersed me in language and visual poetry while the computer’s resources widely expanded my notion of Olson’s “field” of composition. After Free Fall, a 30-page improvisation of textual and visual fusion, IMPROVISATIONS opened what became a floodgate. Its progression grew increasingly visual. After I published it in 2005, several book-length poems I wrote led me into desktop publishing, which offered more ways to combine text and image on the page. 

The poems in Memo from Alamut stand by themselves.  When compiling them in book form, I arranged the titles of the poems in a sequence that suggested a narrative thread. Although the poems address different areas, some readers might perceive a narrative thread. It’s as valid a perception as any other.

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