SONGS OF S.with Maybe S.

Robert Seydel

Edited by Peter Gizzi and Richard Kraft

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paper 6 × 8.5 in.
144 pages, including a 32-page full color booklet
copublished in 2014 with Ugly Duckling Presse

PDF Press Release

S., one of several personas invented by artist and writer Robert Seydel, was a recluse who kept a great library which he suddenly and mysteriously abandoned along with a manuscript of poems and slim stack of drawings. These poems—hypnotic, distilled, obsessive and playful—are written by Seydel as S., whom he devises as a naïf, suffering bouts of madness and apophenia.

Seydel described S. this way: “S. occupied an apartment in a house in Amherst, Massachusetts, on a gray street around the corner from Emily Dickinson’s manse on Main Street. Not that much is known about him as a person… But he wrote prolifically… and kept a journal, and made collages and drew as well, for example the small colored pencil drawings, of heads for the most part, that look like hillocks nestled among the valleys of what might be Amherst’s nearby Holyoke Range… These pictures betray, as do his songs, a certain lack of proficiency, while simultaneously developing a stance of innocence and reverie far from the precincts of the technical… There are hundreds of these little songs, as he sometimes titled them (more often he supplied no title at all, nor is it possible to discern any order for them, chronological or otherwise).”

Siglio and Ugly Duckling Presse have collaborated to publish the complete cycle of poems along with Maybe S. a full color 32-page booklet, that includes drawings by S. as well as hand-written excerpts from Seydel’s notebooks that illuminate the creation and revisions of this persona and his singular universe.

This book was published on the occasion of the exhibition of “Robert Seydel: The Eye in Matter,” curated by Peter Gizzi, Richard Kraft, and Lisa Pearson that traveled from the Smith College Neilson Library to the Queens Museum in 2015. Siglio also published A Picture Is Always a Book: Further Writings from Book of Ruth to accompany the exhibition.

find reviews of Songs of S. in the press section of A Picture Is Always a Book.

about the author

A prolific artist and writer, Robert SeydeL (1960–2011) created a multi-layered, highly original body of work marked by both an unrelenting sense of play and an extraordinary and eclectic body of knowledge. Book of Ruth was published in 2011; A Picture Is Always a Book: Further Writings from Book of Ruth and the poetry collection Songs of S. (copublished with Ugly Duckling Presse) were published posthumously in 2014 on the occasion of the solo exhibition “The Eye in Matter” at the Queens Museum and Smith College Library.

more about Robert Seydel

an interview from A Picture Is Always a Book
“Arranging One’s Books,” a photographic portrait of Seydel by Richard Kraft
“On the Art of Robert Seydel and the Construction of ‘Ruth,'” essay by Lisa Pearson
“Robert: Seydel: A Short History of Portraiture” at Hampshire College Art Gallery

see also


A Picture is Always a BookFurther Writings from Book of RuthRobert Seydel

Edited and with an essay by Lisa Pearson


Arranging One’s Books, No. 2 Robert Seydel’s library and a reading list

Photographs by Richard Kraft

✼ the improbable:

A miscellany of investigations, rants, manifestos, meditations, studies, lists, questionnaires, film scripts, and more in Issue 1, No. 1 Time Indefinite. We’re posting contributions, one by one.


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