Tag Archives: Language

The Body Language of Poetry (Djelloul Marbrook)

Typewriter

Vox Populi

Don’t gesticulate with your hands or make faces when speaking, the teachers at my British boarding school told me. It’s vulgar. I’m sure that this enjoinder at such an impressionable age imbued my poems with reticence and austerity.

But poetry has a body language. The poet’s way of breathing supplies oxygen to the body and to the poem. The poet’s way of walking and talking is inherent in the poem. I knew a poet who walked like the prow of a ship cutting through waves, the bone in its teeth, as sailors say, and that how her poems walked and talked.

The body language of a poem is also shaped by the script used in its writing. If it was first written by hand the poet’s hand, the stops and starts, the way I’s are dotted and t’s crossed, lives in the poem. If the poem was first typed, the…

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Writers in Translation

Media Diversified

by Sinthujan Varatharajah

A few days ago, I was sitting with a friend, we were casually chatting when I suddenly remembered that her father is a writer – as is my mother. I remembered that we somehow knew each other through our parents who again knew each other through diasporic writers’ circles. We laughed about it, about these close, almost exclusive circles that we unconsciously frequent. We were Sinthujan2both the children of writers who write in a non-European language. Yet we never framed ourselves as such, hardly see ourselves as such and rarely tell others, particularly non-Tamils about this part of us or them. Not even friends. I had to remember that her father is a writer, like I sometimes have to remember that my mother is one. I started to think about the diasporic people I had known for years, others who I got to know more recently, and…

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David Foster Wallace & the Nature of Fact

dfw2

Longreads

Josh Roiland | Literary Journalism Studies | Fall 2013 | 23 minutes (5,690 words)

Josh Roiland is in his second year as a visiting assistant professor in the Department of American Studies and the John W. Gallivan Program in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy at the University of Notre Dame. He researches and teaches classes on the cultural, political, and literary significance of American journalism. This piece originally appeared in the Fall 2013 issue of Literary Journalism Studies. Our thanks to Roiland for allowing us to reprint it here, and for adding this introduction:

David Foster Wallace saw clear lines between journalists and novelists who write nonfiction, and he wrestled throughout his career with whether a different set of rules applied to the latter category. In the years after his death, he has faced charges of embellishment and exaggeration by his close friend Jonathan Franzen and repeated by his biographer D.T. Max. Their…

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On “Geek” vs. “Nerd”

Internet Guide, 2014

Slackpropagation

To many people, “geek” and “nerd” are synonyms, but in fact they are a little different. Consider the phrase “sports geek” — an occasional substitute for “jock” and perhaps the arch-rival of a “nerd” in high-school folklore. If “geek” and “nerd” are synonyms, then “sports geek” might be an oxymoron. (Furthermore, “sports nerd” either doesn’t compute or means something else.)

In my mind, “geek” and “nerd” are related, but capture different dimensions of an intense dedication to a subject:

  • geek – An enthusiast of a particular topic or field. Geeks are “collection” oriented, gathering facts and mementos related to their subject of interest. They are obsessed with the newest, coolest, trendiest things that their subject has to offer.
  • nerd – A studious intellectual, although again of a particular topic or field. Nerds are “achievement” oriented, and focus their efforts on acquiring knowledge and skill over trivia and memorabilia.

Or, to…

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Repossession: Reclaimed Slurs & Lexicography

Typewriter

harm·less drudg·ery

[Ed. note: this post contains language that is considered extremely inflammatory. Caveat lector.]

People forward language articles to me all the time–usually the same article multiple times, until my inbox is nothing but language links and plaintive requests from Wine.com to buy more booze, please. But no one forwarded me Talib Kweli’s recent Medium post on language, probably because it was about the history and uses of the word “nigger.” I asked one of my frequent-forwarders if he had seen the post. “I had,” he wrote, “but I figured you’d have already seen it. I was not going to be the one to forward you a post on the n-word.”

The n-word. I think about slurs on a regular basis, in part because I have to explain to people why they’re entered in some of their dictionaries. It’s not unusual for me to open my email in…

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We’re All Living in Portlandia

Midwest Texan

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Once in a while, a popular word will snowball into a state of such broad explanatory use that thoughtful people must either whittle it down to a more definite size or call for its utter dissolution.  This is the present state of hipster, a term wielded with equal frequency as a fashion, a movement, a demographic, and even an insult.

In 2008, Adbusters ran an article with a title that is, to date, still the only title to successfully convince me to read Adbusters.  It was called “Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization.”  This article came at just the right time with just the right dose of acid to make it one of the most important pieces of social journalism of our time.  In it Douglas Haddow defined “hipsterdom” as an ugly and regrettable mutation of Western counterculture.  Its chameleonic quality–wearing the symbols of  countercultural…

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