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David GrayFiguring the Word collects diverse writings by Johanna Drucker previously published in literary and scholarly journals. Topics include: "The Word Made Flesh," "Writing as Artifact," "Visual Poetics," "Artists' Books Past and Future," "The Future of Writing," & "Personal Writing." The book also includes an anecdotal checklist of Drucker's artists's books and an informative introduction by poet Charles Bernstein.
Figuring the Word is a work of poetics rather than criticism or theory in that these essays are the products of doing as much as thinking, of printing as much as writing, of designing as much as researching, of typography as much as composition, of autobiography as much as theory. The mark of the practitioner-critic is everywhere present in these pieces. Figuring the Word is a wide-ranging collection of Drucker's essays from the early-80's to the present. Written in a variety of styles and presented in a variety of formats, the book reflects many divergent aspects of her work and thinking, while at the same time demonstrating how cohesive her project has been. Drucker begins with a wonderfully digressive discussion of her work as a book artist in which she gives an account of what lead her not only to her book art, but also to her related scholarly investigations. She then provides a series of close readings of the work of a number of contemporary language artists, providing in other essays overviews of the historical precedents for this work. The book includes not only a perceptive essay about the use of language in the landscape but also a prescient essay about the use of language in the new electronic frontier of cyberspace.
—from the introduction by Charles Bernstein, Poet, Editor and David Gray Professor of Poetry and Poetics at SUNY-Buffalo.