a review of Improvisations: Book 3 by Vernon Frazer
Improvisations: Book 3
by Vernon Frazer
Beneath The Underground
Vernon Frazer's Improvisations (Book 3) takes us on an intricately vertigineous poetic journey. In book three of his open-ended long poem, Frazer continues his alleotorically epistemological poetic investigations. There is no such thing as a static moment in a Frazer Improvisation. Like the title suggests, meaning and content are in a constant state of flux and our expectations are artistically contorted into ever-morphing concretions of possibilites. Thus the genius of Frazer's dense allusive constructs. At times his words almost seem to defy the gravity of the page on which they are written. Reading a Frazer Improvisation is akin to taking a cerebral rollercoaster ride, with each dip and curve more exhilarating and unnerving than the one before it. To say that these semantic structures are simply 'poems' is to do them a disservice. They are the intellectual gems of a deeply poetic mind's textual alchemy. In their content, we seem to enter into Frazer's laboratory and witness firsthand the workings of his eccentrically fecund imagination, where he plumbs his and our reality with a microscopic (if not quantum) precision. We are presented with a sensibility which is sifted through all scales of reticular membranes, and the finished product we see on the page is a polished crystalline diadem to admire.
It is a monumental yet rewarding task just to wade through Improvisations; but one must immerse oneself in its whole being and fabric to derive the poetic fufillment to which it aspires, and delivers. I can at most, in this review, speak only to limited aspects of this work's all-encompassing nature. It is a work which must be experienced both viscerally and cerebreally; thereby achieving its full potential in the life of the reader. Although Improvisations (Book 3) is its own autonomous entity, I feel a brief introduction to the other two books in the series would serve the reader well.
Starting in Improvosations I-XXIIV (Book 1), the opening of Frazer's epic - the first image we encounter is:
Definitively, a question of being. An affirmation of existence. A profound, absolute ontological assertion.No "Offshore, by Islands hidden in the blood". No Odysseus 'and the boys' heading down to the ships; or even "Time present and time past". It just simply "IS". And as we read on, we receive an unequivocal concretion of what "IS" actually is. In all its myriad manifestations it becomes a question of content; indeed, of content and form:
IF YOU PLAY (OR WRITE) LONG ENOUGH, A FORM WILL ASSERT ITSELF
THE FORM SO LONG WRITTEN SO LONG PLAYED SO LONG DISPLAYED
Here we have another major thread which weaves itself through the work: the allusion to music, melody, dissonance, ambient otherness, coalescing into form: the form which will make itself known to us if we 'play', listen, or read long enough. Music is all-present, all pervasive, and one of the unifying factors solidifying the work. The title, Improvisations, speaks to the obvious assertion of its musical intentionality, and like a symphony, there are many individual constituents which combine to create a unified resonant whole.
In Improvisations (IIV-L) Book 2, we open and encounter:
Here is the seminal flux of our ontological awareness. Our search for meaning which cannot be stagnant, but must be an ever-evolving, vital part of ourselves. An essence perpetuating itself:
O U T W A R D
Indeed, outward into a world forever in :
As the trajectory of our lives bear out these lines of process; our awareness of their radiant unfoldment leads us into the acceptance of ourself and of life as:
a transitive quest
relative of absolute
In Improvisations (Book 3), the subject of this exploration, we open and we find:
Are we digressing ? Devolving ? Retracing ? No, we are questioning; for soon we encounter:
>past to present always in
It asks us to ponder. But ponder what .… The past ? The future ? or:
the kin of beauty…?
the cryptic pronouns…?
Alas, we have an apparent answer:
. . .
But not to lament that this tome (tone) speaks to the futility of all that "IS", for we turn the page and encounter:
. . .
embedded within a pungent ramble. It presents us with a definitive (?) promise of all that is to come.It lifts from the somber adagio which clouds the opening moments and portends that we are:
in an ever-changing state of being, we "IS" moving from:
rubato in the dead night
the riddle of rapture
to find our:
vacant place of purity
. . .
AS SPONTANEITY OCCURS
Improvisations is a work of an intricately diverse intelligibility. Its facets radiate out a poetic luminescence which will enlighten the reader's mind and lead them through an ever-changing semantic labyrinth. I must admit that this cursory outline does little but scratch the surface of this work's incredibly dense essence. But it is the irony of words to enlighten us at the same time they limit us, by constricting our vision to all the eye can encompass, yet never fathom all that can be imagined in the mind.