cover image Prose Architectures

Prose Architectures

Renee Gladman. Wave, $50 (144p) ISBN 978-1-940696-46-1

A poet visualizes the act of writing in this collection of abstract pen-and-ink drawings. In the prologue, written in part as ars poetica, Gladman (Calamities) describes a relationship with drawing that began informally and evolved into a focused investigation into thought and language. “Having had no previous training in visual art, no apparent aptitude for it, I drew from instinct,” she writes. “Or better: I drew out of the matter that was most central to my thinking and living, and that was the city.” True to this observation, the 100-plus drawings that follow evoke cityscapes and city shapes. But they resist figurative representation, instead creating richly imagined abstract spaces: “I didn’t want to draw plans but rather wanted to use the idea of plans, the suggestion of architecture, to point elsewhere: toward a different mode of being where thinking takes the shape of buildings,” Gladman writes. As these drawings echo the architecture of city skylines, they also resemble the loops and peaks of handwriting, and many of them invite viewers to squint and try to decipher meaning as with words on page. But these dynamic drawings are not to be untangled—they are to be experienced as “language dreaming of itself,” as “an inner syntax... maps or diagrams of the way the mind goes.” (June)