Fraser ’54 Offers a Cast of Characters in His Poems

Sanford Fraser TouristIn his third poetry collection, Tourist (NYQ Books, 2009), Sanford Fraser ’54 reveals a mastery of the lyric form and plainspoken language. The collection is divided into three sections: Strangers, Roles and Connections. In the first section, the narrator and/or characters in the poems are strangers isolated from and emotionally detached from others; in the second, they play various roles in the world beyond themselves; and finally in the last section, they experience emotional attachments with others.

Frasier shares the following observations about his new book:

“The busloads of tourists who ride and walk through the streets of my neighborhood each day, often remind me of myself arriving in France years ago, of experiencing again what it is to be a stranger in a strange world. In many of my poems, which are usually short character studies, I recreate this experience. The first section of Tourist is devoted to strangers who do not relate to others, who remain outside of the community they live in or visit. Some take home things, souvenirs—not memories; others remain strangers because they are illegal or simply newly arrived immigrants, speaking a strange language; still others isolate themselves from the world in various ways with their obsessions and imaginary barriers.

“Various roles these characters play in order to fit into society are explored in the second section of the collection, such as the role of the tough guy, or the roles of blind obedience and passive aggression. The ability to reach out beyond oneself and connect with others is explored in the last section: through desire or empathy, and finally, through art and imagination.”

Fraser’s interest in poetry began at Wesleyan in a class taught by George Creeger, professor of English emeritus. He did not begin writing poetry until the age of 50 in New York City, where he now lives. His first collection of poems, 14th Street, was published in the New School Chapbook Series, and his second, a French/English bilingual collection, Parmi les étrangers que j’ai connus toute ma vie/ (Among Strangers I’ve Known All My Life, Tarabuste Editions), appeared in France in 2007. This second book will be republished in 2010 by NYQ Books.

David Low

David Low '76 writes about arts and culture for the Wesleyan magazine and Wesleyan Connection. He is associate director of publications in the Office of University Communications. He is also a published fiction writer. E-mail: