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A Reading and a Review with Sophie Seita

 

Saturdays Live: Eugene Ostashevsky, Holly Pester and Sophie Seita in collaboration with The White Review from Serpentine Galleries on Vimeo.

Poets Eugene Ostashevsky, Holly Pester and Sophie Seita present readings in the Serpentine Sackler Gallery's Powder Room, within the exhibition curated by Martino Gamper, design is a state of mind. 
Programmed in collaboration with The White Review.

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Sophie Seita’s Artfully Fragmented Fantasias in Counting

BY HARRIET STAFF

Sophie Seita

Bookslut’s Kristina Marie Darling reviews Sophie Seita’s first book,Fantasias in Counting (just released, BlazeVOX 2014)! “Although many of her works are concise and carefully crafted, they demand an active participation on the part of the reader, something that an audience would not suspect given the regimented forms she frequently invokes (musical scales, exercises).” More:

The reader     says
                              even as/if painting
                              wouldn’t sight the single but the total unity.

The reader     says
                              wouldn’t
                              cannot sleep.

Thinking about lines now
Thinking about lines now
Thinking about lines now

What’s interesting about this passage is the way that Seita writes as though she is conforming to the reader’s will, yet at the same time challenges and undermines the expectations that most readers would bring to such a text. Passages like this one, beautifully and artfully fragmented, call upon the reader to forge connections between different elements of the poem, prompting them to participate actively in the process of creating meaning from the work. Fantasias in Counting is filled with thought-provoking works like this one, which show an astute awareness of readerly expectations and the consequences of the work’s necessary challenges to the entrenched relationship between the artist and her audience.

seita

Read the full review at BookslutPhoto of Sophie Seita by Lanny Jordan Jackson.

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Fantasias in Counting by Sophie Seita is Now Available!

Fantasias in Counting by Sophie Seita is Now Available!

 

  

Sophie Seita’s Fantasias in Counting furthers an evolving, intense and remarkable body of work with performative textuality, spatiality and ethics of presence. Her poetry and poetics test the very limits of prosody; her theatrics work the defamiliarised into the known: a fantasia of the writer’s making defaulting into non-ownership. Rhythm and its predications and failures are central to ‘speech’. Seita writes: ‘[Begins to play a rhythm on or with scattered sounding-material—whatever is available. Ideally, this is a polyrhythm or cross-rhythm, either 4:3 or 5:3, or even better 4/4 : 4/3 or 2/5 : 2/3 or something of that kind; over the repeatedly spoken phrases: no I cannot; no you cannot (ad lib with pleasure)].’ The rhythm becomes word becomes the ‘theatre’ itself. At first experience a viewer, a reader, a fly on the wall, might undergo the epiphany of the ‘new’. But in Seita’s melding of ancient and modern performative techniques, her investing the moment of articulation with an awareness of the social and political constraints it operates within, we actually start to question what is ‘new’. Rather, we might apply to her work something akin to Stravinsky’s observation that Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge was ‘absolutely contemporary’ and would remain ‘contemporary forever’. Sophie Seita is one of a handful of brilliant ‘new’ poets and performance-enhancers who are changing and will continue to change how we receive and resist the ‘limits’ of poetic form and performative spatiality. She creates texts that are investigative and synaesthetic. When we read ‘my theory is better than my praxis’, the irony ripples through the manuscript, because rarely do the metronome, the drum beat, the tones of voice resonate so strongly. The page becomes the acoustically desirable space, with all attendant ironies and wit. Character and writer are of no fixed address. Sophie Seita is a writer of genius who will never stay still, who will constantly work the boards in ways as yet unimagined. Watch, listen, and be changed.

—John Kinsella

Appearing in the drag of scale exercises, wrought and precise conceptual variations, and playful improvisation, the performance scores in Sophie Seita’s Fantasias in Counting might cause their readers/audiences to wonder whether they’re clothed or nude. Yet the pleasure of these works is their refusal—tartly apropos our digital times—of such binary codings: countable v. mass nouns, wholes v. parts, the one v. multiples, original v. proxy, integer v. fraction, feigned v. felt, and, perhaps most importantly, repetition v. difference. For while Seita’s jargonate arias may instrumentalize the count of the metronome, they also “ambivalize” to reach an “acchord” or “communichord”; remaining unaccountable to a beat, they transmogrify uniform temporal divisions into the bumpy, opaque spacing of socio-linguistic relations. In Steinian tradition (“a craving so little as that like as if it (then) would be then it would be simple. simple and countable. more simply countable. a slice please. much cream.”), Fantasias in Counting effects, against the preterit, new performative grammatical modes: “cannot be counted, only done,” “practised, not counted.” Likewise, the book forges forced ways of being among languages: Seita does not just notice how “lots of words sound like other words” but stages language in states of “hyperarousal,” finding, for instance, an opera within an opera by unfolding a narrative spelled by its paratextual musical directives cum characters: “Po may be generally slow or fast at wasp-speed.” “The subversive subject has lost. Now only irrational measures,” Seita writes, but perhaps that subject is not so much lost as distributed both within and without itself, just as protagonistic or quantifiable models of action have here fissured into mischievous, disturbing agencies, even the agency of aporia. Here’s more than “A little ‘hey’ for true mathematics”: “Please take some time with this line.”

—Judith Goldman


Sophie Seita writes poetry, performance texts, short plays, and translates contemporary German poetry. She makes videos and performs in the UK, Germany, and New York. Her work has appeared in various magazines in the UK and US and her first chapbook 12 Steps was published by Wide Range (Cambridge) in 2012. A collaborative artist book with Anna Moser is forthcoming. She co-organises the unAmerican Activities Transatlantic Reading Series, a simultaneous live reading series between NYC and Cambridge/London. Her doctoral research focuses on experimental poetry and poetics, as well as the formation, dissolution and self-definition of literary communities in avant-garde periodicals, correspondence, and ephemera.

 


Book Information:

· Paperback: 82 pages

· Binding: Perfect-Bound

· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 

· ISBN: 978-1-60964-172-6

$16

 
 

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Photos on flickr