Newcomer Can't Swim
Author: Renee Gladman
Publisher: Kelsey Street Press (2007)
Written as seven loosely connected pieces, Renee Gladman's Newcomer Can't Swim blurs boundaries between poetry and prose. In languages of elegy and splintered consciousness, the book recreates life for the twenty-first century flâneur in urban America amid a confusion of aims, identities and street life of people connected to ipods downloaded with personalized mixes and sets. In a 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 attuned to being lost. "The / body moves away from living, from the flesh and bone of life, / and becomes regions. I take on / water. I look outward." A tension 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.