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

Madeline Gins (Author) Lucy Ives (Editor)


A revelatory anthology of poems, experimental prose and previously unpublished work by Madeline Gins, the transdisciplinary writer-artist-thinker famed for her "Reversible Destiny" architecture

Poet, philosopher, speculative architect and transdisciplinary artist, Madeline Gins 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. 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.

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' 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 Long out of print or unpublished, Gins' poems and prose form a powerful corpus of experimental literature, one which is sure to upend existing narratives of American poetics at the close of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.

Born in the Bronx and long a resident of New York City, Madeline Gins (1941-2014) participated in experimental artistic and literary movements of the 1960s and '70s before developing a collaborative practice as a philosopher and architect. Alongside her own writing, Gins collaborated with her husband, the artist Arakawa, on a theory of "procedural architecture," an endeavor to create buildings and environments that would prevent human death. --Editors "Publishers Weekly"

Product Details

$28.00  $25.76
Siglio Press
Publish Date
April 21, 2020
6.1 X 0.9 X 8.0 inches | 1.35 pounds
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About the Author

Lucy Ives is an experienced author who spent five years as an editor for Triple Canopy. A professor at the Pratt Institute, she received her bachelor's degree from Harvard University, her master's from the Iowa Writer's Workshop, and her Ph.D. in comparative literature from New York University. She lives in New York City.


[A] radical reinvention of fiction.--Randy Kennedy "Ursula"
This collection brings to light the literary achievements of conceptual artist and speculative architect Madeline Gins.--Megan Liberty "Brooklyn Rail"
Stimulating and consistently surprising, this is a treat for those interested in interdisciplinary artists such as John Cage.--Editors "Publishers Weekly"
This generous selection of texts is an opportunity to engage with the full scope of [Gins's] thinking.--Steve Zultanski "Frieze"