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November 6th, 2013 / 3:31 pm
Author Spotlight

An Interview with Sophia Le Fraga

Sophia-Le-Fraga

 

Sophia Le Fraga’s I RL, U RL has just been released from Minutes Books.

Andrew Worthington:

Where are you right now?

 

Sophia Le Fraga :

 I am…FUCK…I am at work, at the Hearst Tower.

 

AW:

What’s your job?

 

SLF:

I’m a copywriter and editor at this digital ad agency.

 

AW:

How’d you get that job? What sorts of ads do you do?

 

SLF:

Well so, I studied Linguistics at NYU and when I graduated, I was just all over the place, traveling up and down the California coast kind of like aimlessly, and one day this guy called me and was like, “oh NYU said that you could tutor me in Syntax and Semantics”, and I was like, “Yeah sure” and he was like, “ok be in touch when you’re back.” And when I got back, I hit him up to tutor him a couple of times a week, and when we met he was like, “I’m the SVP of this ad agency, do you want to just like… work for me?” And I was like, “Well it’s not like I’m doing much of anything else…” So that’s how I ended up here. I do all kinds of ads, from skin care stuff to like cable and internet stuff to banks and cancer treatment centers…it tends to be…an eclectic bunch.

 

AW:

Did you take writing classes when you were in college? Or was writing something you did on the side sort of?

 

SLF:

Yeah totally. NYU didn’t offer a Creative Writing major but I pretty much took enough credits to double up. I took a lot of poetry, some fiction, and for two years, did an independent study with Rob Fitterman on “Poetry of the Avant-Garde”. I feel like writing was always what I wanted to do, but I wanted to have the background in Formal Linguistic to kind of… better understand what I was doing.

*Linguistics

 

AW:

Can you describe some of the ways you may go about writing poetry? How did you compose I DONT WANT ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE INTERNET?

 

SLF:

Well, so, I DON’T WANT ANYTHING happened after I submitted a sort of “open call,” asking everyone I knew on Facebook, Twitter and e-mail if they wanted a “poem”… and depending on what medium they responded in, I took from their feed, or their wall, or their e-mail and gave them each a poem of sorts, using only their language. People love to hear themselves talk.

 

AW:

So I guess no one was upset with the poem you made for them, then?

 

SLF:

No, of course not! All I gave them was a word salad of whatever they’d already shared on the web.

But that’s not to say that people haven’t been upset with me. That’s all pretty extensively catalogued in “H8M8” [a section in I RL, U RL].

 

URL

 

AW:

Anyways, both of your books have titles that reference and play with “the internet.” Can you tell me a time you really had “fun” on the internet and a time you really hated the internet? Or just generally times you like it and times you dislike it?

 

SLF:

I spend a lot of time on the Internet because my job requires me to be on the computer, so on a scale of “fun/not-fun,” the Internet is kind of whatever. In terms of things that I “generally like”? Sometimes I smile when something I post on Facebook or Twitter gets a lot of Likes or Retweets. And there are many things I “generally dislike” in my own personal experience with the interweb. For example, receiving tons of emails from people that I eventually have to answer but have no desire to at the moment. But, that’s not what I love about the Internet. What I love about the Internet is the way people talk on it.

 

AW:

The first of I RL, U RL (“H8M8”), has some angry messages that were sent to you and to a journal that published your poetry. They are angry that you aren’t “really a poet” or you are a hack or a phony or what you write isn’t “really poetry.” Has anyone ever said anything like that to you in-person?

 

SLF:

Oh yeah! And they’re not wrong to think that. Just a couple of months ago, I gave a reading, and this girl from the audience came up to me and was like, “Um, are you even a writer?” I figure that’s a pretty spot-on way to describe my book. I wish I had gotten her to blurb it.

 

AW:

To return to an earlier question, as you are now writing in a more “experimental” vein, what was the poetry like that you were writing maybe 5 or 10 years ago?

 

SLF:

Funny you ask that today because yesterday I was digging through my inbox and found this piece of, I guess “juvenilia,” I mean something I’d written sophomore year of high school… and it was pretty weird stuff. I guess I was always interested in language more than in meaning, so a lot of it was stuff that like, sounded weird or off, or tried actively to lose its reader through different grammatical constructions and lack of punctuation, or tried to stretch a word game as far as it could go… I was thirteen 10 years ago, but yeah, my writing I guess was always pretty weird.

 

AW:

Wow. I guess I figure a lot of people go through the angsty phase (I know I did), and then develop from there, etc.

 

SLF:

Oh, this is not to say I didn’t go through an angsty phase. That was the age when I pretty much took a vow to keep 80% of my wardrobe black at all times. Those who know me know I’ve been good at keeping that promise.

 

AW:

What do you think influenced your interest in language play at an early age?

 

SLF:

I was raised trilingual: spoke Spanish at home, French at school and English with, like, people in New York. One time, when I was 4, I went to Brazil, which I only mention because it’s the first memory I have of deeply musing on language.

 

AW:

You have an epigraph in your book for Mister Rogers. What are you earliest memories or any memories of Mister Rogers?

 

SLF:

I remember being a child and watching it on TV, I was always kind of spooked by the puppet scenes, you know what I’m talking about?

 

AW:

No. My memories are very selective with that show. So basically bad memory. I remember them moving a house on a truck once. I remember the song.

 

SLF:

Oh, well they had this weird world that I think you had to take some make believe train to, where Mister Rogers, I think did the voice of all these puppets, and I don’t know they were kind of weird…Yeah, it’s a good song. His cardigans, also.

 

AW:

Changing pace: Would you say your writing process is more similar to that of a rapper or of a producer? Do you think there are analogies between “internet poetry” and hip hop? Do you like hip hop? What artists?

 

SLF:

Yes, I definitely agree with your differentiating rapper and producers, and I think if I were in music, I might be more inclined to produce, but that’s mostly just because I can’t spit. Same with poetry, I guess.

 

AW:

What producers do you like?

 

SLF:

Rick Rubin, Puff Daddy, Dr. Dre, Swizz, I have to plug my buddy Shy Guy who just produced a couple of songs on the album Le1f just dropped

 

AW:

What is minutes BOOKS? Who is involved with it? Why did you decide to publish with them?

 

SLF:

Minutes BOOKS is Nathaniel Otting– I was really into the things he was publishing, especially Ben Fama’s “New Waves,” which is one of my favorite chapbooks. One day we were talking about I RL, YOU RL, and he agreed to do the first run.

 

AW:

What are current projects you are working on or future projects you may work on?

 

SLF:

I have a couple of projects in the works right now, in addition to studying for the GREs, which I try to complain about whenever I get the chance. One of them is a dos-a-dos book called SLF: ‘s Second Person, another is a piece using semantic classifications of verbs… I’m also working on a multimedia collaboration called I HAVE OFFENDED EVERYONE, which I’m super excited about.

 

AW:

That all sounds really great. You are thinking of grad school?

 

SLF:

Yeah, trying for a PhD in Linguistics.

 

AW:

Cool. I was thinking we would do a thing where I ask you keywords and you search your Gmail history for how many messages have them and maybe an anecdote about one or two or something. Sound good?

 

SLF:

Sure!

 

AW:

Alright, cool. James Bond.

 

SLF:

And what do I do? Just list what comes up?

 

AW:

Yeah maybe say when it came up most recently and why (outside of this convo) and/or just list briefly all the times it has come up.

 

SLF:

Um, it’s come up twice, once in me asking my roommate if she’s “into james bond” to which she answered “not even close.” And a second time in me explaining how prone I am to falling asleep during movies “exhibit A: james bond.”

 

AW:

Nice. Yoko Ono

 

SLF:

Most notably: Yoko Ono (@yokoono) is now following you on Twitter!

 

AW:

Hold on, really? That’s great. It’s the verified account?

 

SLF:

Oh yeah! Vito Acconci too! This is basically the most that I have to show for myself re: my life

 

AW:

What led them to you, do you think?

 

SLF:

I have literally no idea.

 

AW:

Wow. Ok. Coldplay.

 

SLF:

Just spam.

 

AW:

Postmodernism.

 

SLF:

Oh there’s a bunch of stuff.

 

AW:

You talk about it a lot?

 

SLF:

I don’t think so, but I seem to be on a lot of listservs that are pretty fond of the word.

 

AW:

Ah gotcha.

 

SLF:

I can copy paste, if you’d like.

 

AW:

If you want to copy paste a little that’s cool.

 

SLF:

“Suturing sexual otherness to an aching of gendered expectations, Tysh’s cadences embrace postmodernism’s emblematic penchant for all manner of appropriation, and recycling finds a radical iteration in the fashion of fairies, queens, and stool pigeons.”

 

“As the conscious, subconscious, hereditary and collective aspects of the “I” are analysed further, it fragments into many voices, laying the groundwork for postmodern and conceptual writing — or, to echo our first lesson, returns to something like the concept of “world soul.”"

 

“”Lance Olsen, acclaimed American postmodern writer and Chair of the Board of Directors of FC2 (Fiction Collective Two), will read briefly from several of his novels, including Nietzsche’s Kisses and Calendar of Regrets. He is author of more than 20 books of and about innovative prose, and hundreds of short stories and reviews. He teaches experimental theory and practice at the University of Utah.”

 

AW:

Staten Island.

 

SLF:

Amazonlocal deals, scoutmob local finds, groupon deals for Staten Island.

 

AW:

Memphis.

 

Sophia LeFraga

Memphis rap, talking to a friend about a roadtrip to Memphis

 

AW:

Melissa Broder.

 

Sophia LeFraga

There’s a bunch of things where Melissa and I are talking about tarot and about hanging out and about her review of I DON’T WANT ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE INTERNET.

 

AW:

What art or literary movements do you like a lot? What contemporary poets do you like a lot? Why?

 

SLF:

I’ve been thinking a lot about Oberiu, Oulipo and the Bauhaus recently. In terms of contemporary poets, my favorite for a little bit now has been Kim Rosenfield… which I can only really say because I have actively bailed on my commitments (ok, this happened once) because I was reading her. My MO with reading is usually much more casual than that. But, I’ve been trying to immerse more in other media, things that are close to poetry without being poetry, and I’m super into Erica Baum, Natalia Fedorova, Shawn Huckins, and Holger Lippmann, this “generative artist.”

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