The Saddest Thing Is That I Have Had to Use Words: A Madeline Gins Reader


May 4, 2020
Lucy Ives reading at BOMB Magazine EOD: May 29, 5pm
Live @bombmag on Instagram
Brooklyn Institute for Social Research conversation: May 7, 7pm, Lucy Ives and Rebecca Ariel Porte
@TheBrooklynInstitute on Facebook
Instagram / Twitter

Siglio publishes revelatory anthology of Madeline Gins's previously unpublished and hard-to-find writings edited by Lucy Ives, April 2020

“For anyone who wants to experience directly the uncharted regions of inner and outer space in which language, perception, thought, and image play freely with our cramped expectations of them, the Madeline Gins Reader is an indispensable guide and a startling discovery. Her explorations of the interstices between words as symbols, as images, as sounds, as drawings are sure, steady, and entirely original. It seems incredible that her work received so little attention during her lifetime. This volume performs an invaluable service in recalling her to our attention.” —Adrian Piper

“Madeline Gins was marooned here, on Earth, and made the best of it, using what was available to her, like words. This book is a splendid testament to how far she pushed them, and us, to realize what she already knew. That this, all this, is not it. Not. Even. Close.” —Paul Chan

Poet, philosopher, speculative architect and transdisciplinary artist, Madeline Gins (1941–2014) is well-known for her collaborations with her husband, the artist Arakawa, on the experimental architectural project Reversible Destiny, in which they sought to arrest mortality by transforming the built environment. Yet, her own writings—in the form of poetry, essays, experimental prose, and philosophical inquiries—represent her most visionary and transformative work. Expansive and playful, Gins’s vigorous and often ecstatic exploration of the physicality of language challenges us to sense more acutely the ways in which we can—and could—write and read. Like Gertrude Stein before her, Gins transfigures grammar and liberates words. Like her contemporaries in conceptual art, her writing is attuned to the energized, collaborative space between reader and page. She invites the reader into a field of infinite, ever-multiplying possibility.

The Saddest Thing Is That I Have Had to Use Words: A Madeline Gins Reader is a revelatory anthology, edited and with an introduction by the writer and critic Lucy Ives. It brings never-before-published poems and essays together with a complete facsimile reproduction of Gins’s 1969 masterpiece, WORD RAIN (or A Discursive Introduction to the Intimate Philosophical Investigations of G,R,E,T,A, G,A,R,B,O, It Says), along with substantial excerpts from her two later books What the President Will Say and Do!! (1984) and Helen Keller or Arakawa (1994). Long out of print or unpublished, Gins’s poems and prose form a powerful corpus of experimental literature, one which is sure to upend existing narratives of American poetics at the close of the 20th century.

328 pages | 6 x 8 inches | ISBN: 978-1-938221-24-8

Madeline Gins is the author of three full-length collections of writing. Long a resident of NYC, Gins participated in experimental artistic and literary movements of the 1960s and ’70s before developing a collaborative practice as a philosopher and architect. She leaves a rich and complex legacy of interdisciplinary thought, action, and writing: although much of her work was unpublished or went out of print in her own lifetime, her prescient efforts in poetics, aesthetics, and environmental studies are central to contemporary debates about how to form communities and create collaboratively and sustainably.

Lucy Ives (editor) is the author of two novels, Impossible Views of the World (Penguin Press, 2017) and Loudermilk: Or, The Real Poet; Or, The Origin of the World (Soft Skull Press, 2019). Her writing has appeared in Art in America, Artforum, frieze, Granta, and Vogue, among other publications. She holds a Ph.D. in comparative literature from New York University. A collection of her short stories is forthcoming from Soft Skull Press in early 2021.

About Siglio
Siglio publishes uncommon books that live in the rich and varied space between art and literature. Siglio is a small, fiercely independent press driven by its feminist ethos and its commitment to writers and artists who obey no boundaries, pay no fealty to trends and invite readers to see the world anew by reading word and image in provocative, unfamiliar ways. Support Siglio by becoming a Siglio Advocate.