Press Release, Newcomer Can’t Swim

Newcomer Can’t Swim, Renee Gladman. Kelsey St. Press, 2007.

Written as seven loosely connected pieces, Renee Gladman’s Newcomer Can’t Swim mixes poetry with prose to recreate life for the twenty-first century flaneur in urban America, where, amid a confusion of aims, identities, and miscommunication devices, being attuned to different frequencies also means being lost. In this contemporary world of signs that crisscross a global culture, how can one maintain a firm existence and make human connections? Gladman posits a fluid self and parallel existence: “The / body moves away from living, from the flesh and bone of life, / and becomes regions. I take on / water. I look outward.” In languages of elegy and splintered consciousness, Newcomer holds all frequencies together, keeping the contradiction of a life that animates the “I” of this book at the same time that it goes on without her.

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