Poetry News

Iris Cushing Walks Through Renee Gladman's Prose Architectures

By Harriet Staff
Rene Gladman, Prose Architecture, cover

Meanwhile, at Hyperallergic, Iris Cushing discusses Renee Gladman's new book, Prose Architectures. The book, comprised entirely of drawings, paints a vivid (urgent) portrait of the space in between, as Cushing puts it, "image and language." It is Gladman's first collection of drawings, which "seem to trace the contours of her thinking — notes without syntax, maps without scale, blueprints without measurement." Let's start there: 

Gladman considers her drawing practice, in which she’s had no formal training, as importantly concurrent with her practice as a writer. Her stories bring readers into a world in which the linear and spatial limits of the urban environment are drastically altered; its transformation, in turn, serves as a metaphor for the mutability of familiar social and political structures. In Gladman’s trilogy of novels about the fictional nation-state of Ravika, for example, characters use an invented language called Ravic. The protagonists’ words have direct impact on physical spaces in Ravicka, as well as the events that transpire there. To write “I set my house on fire” in Ravicka is synonymous and simultaneous with one’s house burning down, just as writing “my house did not burn down” allows the same house to remain standing. This power negates the well-worn dichotomy between words and actions that haunts late capitalism. Gladman’s fictional system carries over into her drawings, where the act of mark-making — an act analagous to writing — results in a completely singular visual structure, an image that hovers somewhere between diagram and utterance.

In her introduction to Prose Architectures, Gladman writes that, as opposed to the language-centric writing process, “Drawing was going into time; it was pulling the process of thought apart, and what was most profound was that it left a record behind, a map: the drawing itself.”

Continue at Hyperallergic.

Originally Published: August 28th, 2017