Saturday, July 24, 2010
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Although I'm not quite on the roll I wrote about in my last post, I've had a number of pieces published online in recent weeks.
DITCH has just published a batch of my newest poems. You can read them at:
I just discovered DITCH in the course of looking for places to submit my work, but I recommend it highly to readers who like cutting-edge material. DITCH has also published Kane X. Faucher, Camille Martin, Rob McClennan, Gary Barwin, Mark Young and Matina L. Stamatakis, all poets worthy of serious consideration. As a Canadian magazine, DITCH advances and enhances the rich body of Canadian experimental poetry, from which I've learned a lot, and includes an international cast of writers, as well.
Although I'm sad to learn that JACK MAGAZINE'S long run has come to an end, I'm pleased that Mary Sands Woodbury has included my work in its final issue:
The magazine has also published one of my personal favorites among my short fiction, “The Post-Creativist Corpus of Astu Abalar:”
Although JACK MAGAZINE emphasized Beat writing, it also published a number of literary explorers, among them Sheila Murphy and mIEKAL aND. I'd like to thank Mary Sands Woodbury and her former co-editor, Michael Rothenberg, for their support of my work.
SEX QUEEN OF THE BERLIN TURNPIKE
A few weeks ago, I posted one of my older pieces, Sex Queen of the Berlin Turnpike, to YouTube. It's one of the first poems I ever put to music. I wrote it in 1984, as I recall, then recorded it in 1986 with a pre-recorded bass line on a cassette titled Haight Street, 1985 and again in 1987 for my 1988 LP,
Sex Queen of the Berlin Turnpike. On YouTube it's referred to as one of “Vernon Frazer's Greatest Hits,” a tongue-in-cheek reference to my sales that I hope isn't too obscure. I'm told it became a kind of underground classic among the jazz DJs at some of the northeast's college radio stations, most notably WWUH-FM (University of Hartford) and WHUS-FM (University of Connecticut), where Chris Sampson keeps it alive on his Gravity and Chaos show. The jazz DJs on these stations know their music very well, so I'm pleased that they supported it the way they did.
As an LP, Sex Queen of the Berlin Turnpike suffered from the record stores switching to selling CDs. At the time it was being pressed, the record stores were selling vinyl. During the five weeks it took to press the album, most record stores stopped selling vinyl and sold CDs instead. Although I got good---if not always perceptive--- reviews, the change in format limited what I could do with the work.
Here's the YouTube version:
If you'd like to listen to the full ensemble version, go to
The jazz aficionados among you might recognize the musicians. At the time, Thomas Chapin, Mario Pavone, Joe Fonda and Brian Johnson were respected but not well-known. Thomas Chapin, one of my closest friends, died of leukemia in 1998. Had he survived and been healthy enough to make the headliner gigs booked at venues such as the Monterrey Jazz Festival that year, he would be considered a star today. Nevertheless, he left an outstanding legacy of recordings. For more information on his work, visit his memorial web site at
Mario Pavone, the bassist in Thomas's acclaimed trio, has continued to create fresh improvised music. His angular compositions are unique and compelling, and his bass playing drives his sidemen to play at their best.
Joe Fonda gained recognition for his collaborations with Anthony Braxton, but was always a compelling bassist. Whenever he soloed, he'd display some advanced technique that I'd ask about. With his “just plain folks” approach, he'd downplay it. Over the years, he's produced a body of provocative works with musicians such as Braxton, Mark Whitecage, David Douglas and his longtime collaborator, Michael Jefry Stevens.
Brian Johnson ranks as the most brilliant percussionist I've ever played with. In the 1990s he performed with Loren Mozzacane and tours Europe with Oboist Joseph Celli. Since he lives in Burlington, Vermont, he doesn't always get the work and recognition a musician of his caliber deserves. He was the mainstay of the Vernon Frazer Poetry Band from 1988 to 1990, when he moved to Burlington. He came down from Vermont to play with the band when he could, and performed with me on my first engagement at the Knitting Factory in 1991. Like Thomas Chapin, who played with me on most of my New York gigs, I never told him what to play; he and Thomas always came up with something far better than anything I could suggest. You can hear more of Brian's percussion work on “Demon Dance” at
Eventually, I plan to reissue my poetry-music records on CD Baby. If anybody would like me to burn copies of the three recordings on my web site, please email me at email@example.com. At this time, I'm giving them away.