Poet and intermedia artist Oana Avasilichioaei’s follow-up to Limbinal (Talonbooks, 2015) is a transliterary exploration composed of eight "tracks" plus two bonus tracks, each of which explores one of the various meanings of the word "track": musical track, a physical path, marks left by a person or animal, speech tracking, animal and human tracking, and systems of surveillance. The collection’s title nods to the obsolete technology of the eight-track tape, popularized in the sixties and seventies, and the poems use some aspects of the eight-track metaphorically and formally: sound degradation, low versus high fidelity, wow and flutter (slow or rapid pitch fluctuation of a signal in recorded sound), and splicing and looping techniques. The book’s arrangement, design, and size may also echo certain aspects of the actual eight-track object.
Eight-Track asks what these "track" concepts can mean poetically and politically, on the page and beyond the page, engaging with ideas of language as trace and sound, language as surveillance and resistance, notions of insertion, rearrangement, and variance, dialoguing between various political, linguistic, and genre boundaries. Polyphony inhabits Eight-Track in voice and form: some of the series are long poems, while others are hybrids of poetry and other genres, including black-and-white photography, drawing and illustration, audio transcriptions, radio drama, audio art, echoes of other systems of discourse – philosophy, gloss, theatre, travelogue, translation – and beyond the book, multimedia performances of some of the series.
Implicitly, surreptitiously, between its discordant melodies, Avasilichioaei’s Eight-Track asks:
How can a trace be sonically and visually embodied? What do our systems of surveillance reveal about ourselves?
How does language oppress?
How does it resist?
Can the poem act as a tracking system?
Oana Avasilichioaei’s art practice interweaves various areas, including poetry, translation, photographic and moving image, sound, and performance. She often explore various means of translating between these areas, bringing aspects of one area into another as a way of putting pressure on the very meaning, conventions, structures, and genres of these fields. Some ideas she engage with include language as trace and resistance, polyglot and polyphonic poetics, phonotopes (intermediary spaces between words, sound, and image), and transformation.
Oana Avasilichioaei regularly performs her work and give talks/presentations on poetics and translation in Canada, USA, Mexico and Europe. She was the founder and curator of the Atwater Poetry Project reading series in Montreal from 2004 to 2009. Avasilichioaei was the 2009 Writer-in-Residence at Green College, UBC, Vancouver, the 2010–2011 Canadian Writer-in-Residence at Calgary University, and the 2018 Audain Visual-Artist-in-Residence at Simon Fraser University. For almost fifteen years, Avasilichioaei has also worked as a commercial translator from French to English, and has been providing manuscript consultation services.