Sophie Seita

Sophie Seita is an artist working with poetry, performance and video, and is the author of the chapbook 12 Steps (Cambridge: Wide Range, 2012), the collection Fantasias in Counting (BlazeVOX 2014), i mean i dislike that fate that i was made to where, a translation of Uljana Wolf (Wonder, 2015, forthcoming), and a collaborative artist book with Anna Moser, Aesthetic Failings, or A Dialogue (forthcoming 2015). With Ian Heames and Luke McMullan, she co-organises the unAmerican Activities Transatlantic Reading Series. Her academic research focuses on avant-garde little magazines. She’s been involved with the Archive of the Now (an audio archive of contemporary poetry based at Queen Mary University of London) and the Blue Mountain Project at Princeton (a digital archive of historical avant-garde journals). She’s received fellowships from the DAAD, Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes, Columbia University’s Gatsby Foundation, a Hölderlin Study Abroad Scholarship, a Queen Mary Principal’s Studentship, a Charles D. Abbott Fellowship 2013 (Poetry Collection, SUNY Buffalo), and a Beinecke Fellowship at Yale (2014). She’s also the recipient of the John Kinsella and Tracy Ryan Poetry Prize (2012), and, with Uljana Wolf, the second Wonder Book Prize (2014). She lives in New York.

The Ethics of Attention in Peter Larkin’s ‘Leaves of Field’

This paper is concerned with ‘making sense’ in Peter Larkin’s ‘Leaves of Field’, a long poem that articulates a post-pastoral poetics based on ethical valency activated by attention. ‘Leaves of Field’ directs questions at us: How do we look at ‘natural’ objects? What is adequate poetic description? Can there be ethics without an apparent subject? How can we avoid instrumentalising nature poetically and ecologically after human intervention? What is the ‘value’ of human-and-non-human relations? Creating a lyricism not based on self-expression or explicitly only-human community, Larkin answers the challenges of writing innovatively with ethical consciousness by attending minutely to poetic texture and to ‘attention’ itself.

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