Frazer, Brenda

Frazer, Brenda
(Bonnie Bremser)
(1939– )
   One of the most intelligent, resourceful, and talented women of the Beat Generation, Frazer is most well known for writing the underground classic troia: mexican memoirs (1969), published as For the Love of Ray (1971) in England. Frazer started life far from the Beat world that she would embrace and eventually leave. She was born in Washington, D.C., on July 23, 1939. Her father worked for the Department of Labor, and her mother was a depressed housewife who would be institutionalized and administered shock treatment. Frazer dropped out of Sweet Briar College and briefly attended Georgetown before joining the Beat scene. On March 21, 1969, she married Beat poet ray bremser, whom she had first met after a poetry reading in Washington, D.C., a reading that featured Bremser, gregory corso, allen ginsberg, LeRoi Jones, Peter Orlovsky, A. B. Spellman, and Cecil Taylor. Ray’s long prose poem “angel” is about Frazer. After violating parole, Ray spent six months in Trenton State Prison. A letter from William Carlos Williams helped him get out. When Ray fled to Mexico in 1961 to escape incarceration for a crime that he claimed he did not commit, Frazer followed him with their baby daughter, Rachel, who was later given up for adoption. Frazer recalls, “The reason the law was after us was because Ray had been accused of an armed robbery he didn’t do. . . . My testimony and the fact that a fellow parolee was with us that night were both inconsequential. We were desperadoes because Ray had just served 6 months for violating parole by getting married without permission and talking on the radio about marijuana. . . . We were desperados because we’d just had a baby and couldn’t face another separation and what seemed like a set up.” Elaine de Kooning, the wife of Willem de Kooning, lent them money. Sent back to Texas after an arrest in Mexico, Ray received bail money from Elaine de Kooning’s friends and escaped to Mexico again to stay with Beat poet philip lamantia. Frazer’s life on the run with Ray was recorded in Troia. After leaving Ray, she raised their second daughter Georgia. In the 1970s she spent time on Ginsberg’s farm in Cherry Valley, New York, and had an unconventional relationship with a married dairy farmer, who had two sons with her. In the 1980s she worked for the Department of Agriculture as a soil scientist. Frazer has been published in the Beat journals Fuck You: A Magazine of the Arts, Blue Beat, Down Here, and Intrepid. She is presently working on the prequel and a sequel to Troia; the trilogy is tentatively entitled “Troia: Beat Chronicles.”
■ Grace, Nancy M. “Artista: Brenda (Bonnie) Frazer.” Breaking the Rule of Cool: Interviewing And Reading Women Beat Writers, edited by Nancy M. Grace and Ronna C. Johnson, 109–130. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2004.
■ Hemmer, Kurt. “The Prostitute Speaks: Brenda Frazer’s Troia: Mexican Memoirs.” Paradoxa 18 (2003): 99–117.
   Kurt Hemmer

Encyclopedia of Beat Literature. . 2014.

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