“Her mother awake was just like her mother asleep.” This is just one of the poignant lines in Frog Heaven, a darkly hopeful tale by writer and illustrator T. Coulter. Including delightful illustrations of “a hundred … a thousand … a billion frogs like stars in the sky, ” I was taken by the artist’s portrayal of the smallness of the child — in stature, yes, but other dimensions as well. Take a look. The ending might twist you a bit. (The Rumpus)
By the time Howard Mohr’s How to Talk Minnesotan came out in the late 1980s, I’d already become a South Dakotan. But, yep, over here in these parts a guy’ll eat pert’near as much Jell-O salad and lutefisk and, dontchaknow, say “Ya, sure, you betcha” as the default answer to just as many questions as a good Minnesotan any day. Thanks to Rick Aschmann, we have now verified that a large swathe of Minnesota and South Dakota do in fact belong in the same dialect area, and that it does not include Fargo. Aschmann has been building a map detailing (and we mean detailing) North American English dialects since 2010. It seems that his research into where the pronunciation of “cot” and “caught” vary or where you might find the “l” in words like “talk” and “calm” to be pronounced or silent would have a certain impact on which parts of the country would give you the best audience for your poetry. What rhymes in Iowa might not in Manhattan. Take a look at these spellbinding dialectical facts, and you’ll be saying Oh, for useful! in no time, yep. (That’s a Minnesotanism, from the Western North Dialect Region.) (Huffington Post Tech)
We don’t know if one of Spock’s colleagues ever finished a map of Vulcan dialects, but we do know that the new Star Trek movie Into Darkness opens today. Ever wonder why Star Trek matters, besides to its millions of fans worldwide? On the Smithsonian blog, “scholar and curator Margaret Weitekamp argues that the fictional series of space exploration helped define and inspire real world parallels.” We have a couple of young Star Trek fans in our midst, and released two pieces yesterday in honor of the new film: a fiction feature, Star Trek Encounter, along with three Star Trek poems. (Smithsonian)
Have a fresh new manuscript burning a hole in your pocket but still on the fence as to how to publish? The options, dontchaknow, are legion on the spectrum between traditional publishing and the old mimeograph machine in your basement (you’ll need a stapler or some gold brad fasteners for that, just a heads-up). And for every option there’s a warehouse full of data and arguments for and against. It’ll pert’near make your head spin to think about it all. Smashwords, the indie e-book publisher, recently released a study of indie e-book sales data to help you sort through it. You can read the whole thing on the Smashwords blog, or you can accept my summary: Best results appear to come from long books with short titles priced at $2.99, except when they are priced at $3.99 or $.99. Oh, and books priced at “Free” go like lefse on a hot Minnesotan’s griddle. (Smashwords)
Now, if you’re tossed up between reading a riveting e-book marketing study or a detailed map that still won’t help you understand the dialect of a farmer in Wishek, North Dakota, whose pickup left the local Piggly Wiggly store without him and drove itself into a power pole belonging to the local electric co-op (it could happen), you might like to just pull up a seat on a “dilapidated red buttonback sofa” and read an actual paper book in an actual brick and mortar bookstore, also known as “The Crossroads of Civilization.” (Galleycat)
4 Poetry at Work
I’m pretty sure that these folks need a dialect region all their own (that they are a moving target may hinder Aschmann from drawing them on the map, however) but a group of New York yellow taxi cab drivers are writing poetry as part of a creative writing project in conjunction with PEN World Voices Festival. According to this piece in the New York Times, “‘The idea is to take the creative writing workshop out into the community of workers, ‘ said Mark Nowak, the group’s instructor and the director of the master’s program in creative writing at Manhattanville College. Mr. Nowak said he had in the past organized similar workshops for Ford autoworkers in Minnesota, Somali nurses, and electricians from Chicago.” Minnesota. Yep. (New York Times)
While Nowak’s program takes poetry to cabbies, a dance troupe is taking creativity to the cubicle. (If you want to try this in your own office, we suggest taking it just outside your cubicle, where there is sufficient room for those high leg kicks.) The Trey McIntyre Project brings dancers to corporate work forces in order to help boost creativity. (CNNMoney)
So. You know what dialect you are. But do you know what type you are? And do you know what dialect the man in this video is speaking? Since you asked, my type is “Baskerville Italic — so understated it was designed by a man called Moore, not Baskerville.” The very act of taking this short online personality inventory might tell you something about your type. When @tspoetry retweeted this from @thelitpub who first tweeted the link to Pentagram Design, this exchange followed with @edaypoems:
@edaypoems @thelitpub I was the type who was very antsy waiting for him to ask the question 🙂
— tspoetry (@tspoetry) May 14, 2013
Now, I’m going to admit that I have read Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. And I’ll also admit that I don’t generally feel inclined to poke fun at him. I feel downright ambivalent about him, as a matter of fact. At the same time, I have to admit that I found this Telegraph article poking fun at his writing style following the release of Inferno to be terribly amusing. And also instructive. I’ve gone back through my recent writing and modified all those sections I thought were so clever when I had a character walk “using the feet located at the ends of his two legs to propel him forwards.” It’s a brilliant tutorial of great things not to write using your fingers that are attached to your hands at the knuckle joints. (Telegraph)
Here in the Western North dialect region, we have a lot of folks named Ole, Lena, and Sven, dontchaknow. But those three names will only take a guy so far when it comes to writing medieval fiction. You know, if that’s what you’re doing after the lutefisk feed. Me? I skipped the lutefisk and went straight to trying to figure out how I can use these five new names the Medieval Name Generator cranked out for me: Jaime Malleville, Othuel Junqueira, Nel Martinello, Beaudonnier Krizi, Carellus Chaumeau. And if you are very particular about your medieval names, you can specify the length as well as starting and ending letters.
Do you carry a poem with you all the time? I don’t, though I do carry a folded index card with one word on it next to a picture of myself at about 18 months. I’m not telling you the word. You probably wouldn’t understand my accent, anyway. But I’ve been thinking of tucking in a poem beside the card and photo and just haven’t decided which one. Sylvia Boorstein carries a Neruda poem, ‘Keeping Quiet, ‘ which “asks us to slow down, be in each other’s presence in the face of the whirlwind of activity that often overtakes our lives.” You can listen to Boorstein read the poem at the On Being blog. (On Being with Krista Tippett)
In A Matter Not of Order, poet Tsering Wangmo Dhompa writes:
I was taught not to ask for more.
I took the smallest pieces,
left the last on the plate to deities,
bullies and elders. Train eyes,
the elders said, to want
what is already yours.
Later in the poem, seeming to be closer to elder than child, she writes the lines “Now bigger is a sign of competence. / Was my heart stitched for this?” Read the rest of the poem at Every Day Poems.
HuffPo recently featured a letter written to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow from his “little friend, Nannie Gould.” At least that’s the way she signed off. I was particularly intrigued by her reference to his picture on the wall in her schoolroom, and how she imagines he is there in person, wishing to “take your two hands in mine, looking you in the eyes…” (Huffington Post Poetry)
Earlier this week, we had an amusing little misunderstanding between an editor and photography director over the selection of photos for our upcoming June Mirror, Mirror theme. The editor-who-shall-not-be-named-but-speaks-in-the-Western-North-dialect expressed disappointment that the photography-director-who-shall-also-not-be-named-but-speaks-in-the-South-African-dialect that there were not more “Instagram bathroom selfie” poses. We blame the missed tongue-in-cheek on the everything-is-typewritten-on-the-Internet dialect. Not to be left out of the fun, it seems a yet-unseen self-portrait of Charles Baudelaire was recently discovered which demonstrated his acumen for painting could have rivaled that of his poetry. (Huffington Post)
From the department of “not very hopeful sounding book titles” comes Janet Malcom’s Forty-one False Starts. But, of course it’s hopeful. If the false starts were dead-ends, there would be nothing more to talk about. According to the review of Malcom’s book at The Millions, this collection of artist profiles is set apart by its essential focus “on thing-making – the ideas behind it, the process of it, and the way those things are received by the public – as opposed to personality. Not that personality is missing from her essays; the reader gets a very strong sense of various artistic characters and their mannerisms. But there is little here of sleazy affairs, bad behavior toward family and colleagues, or other familiar fodder of artistic biography.” (The Millions)
Thinking of a book but can’t recall the title? Like, the cookbook that had that lime Jell-O salad you loved at the last potluck? Try this new query feature at Reddit. Give a little information, and other readers will help you with your recall. As long as they can understand your dialect, I suppose. Yep. You betcha. (Galleycat)
10 Sound n Motion
I’m quite certain the new Star Trek movie will be fantastic. At least as good as the others I haven’t seen. (Confession. I watched Star Trek as a child but always wondered why it wasn’t as funny as Lost in Space.) But I’m pert’near sure they won’t have anything as cool as Commander Chris Hadfield. When you record David Bowie’s Space Oddity from on board the International Space Station, I think you just established a new region on Aschmann’s map called Dialect Region Awesome. Ya, sure. You betcha.
Cover photo by Storebukkebruse. Creative Commons via Flickr. Article photos by Claire Burge. Used with permission. Post by Will Willingham.
Buy a year of Every Day Poems, just $5.99. Read a poem a day, become a better poet. In April we’re exploring the theme Swans, Swallows, Phoenix.
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Claire Burge says
And the laughter starts all over again. I think that conversation should become a blog post. Seriously 😉
As for Charles, he is just plain grumpy!
Will Willingham says
It just did, Claire. 😉
Megan Willome says
I saw the map last week. It feels like Texas has more dialects to me (see the movie “Bernie” for more information). And speaking of movies, I have a date to see Star Trek on Saturday. And you know who else loves Star Trek? Krista Tippett of “On Being.” I love that interview with Sylvia Bootstein. Makes my blood pressure go down just listening to it.
Will Willingham says
Despite all the information on that map, I was actually surprised that there were only 8 dialect regions. Seriously, there are multiples in my state, and places Wishek deserve their own.
Maureen Doallas says
I nominate Neruda for Poet of the Universe.
Dialects fascinate me. I’ve never had anyone peg me as being from Virginia. (I think my last name might have something to do with that. Only Europeans ever pronounce it correctly.)
Will Willingham says
Wonderful idea, Maureen.
L. L. Barkat says
How do you pronounce your last name, Maureen? (Not that the South Dakotans will pay any attention to that 😉 )
I laughed at so much in here, but why did “dialectical facts” particularly tickle me? Who knows.
Do we have a department of Not Very Hopeful Book Titles? (I guess we do now.)
Will Willingham says
Hey now. Doallas has an O in it. We South Dak-O-tans are good with our Os. It comes of our proximity to the Canucks.
Dialectical? Perhaps you have a fondness for words I make up.
L. L. Barkat says
well, not made up so much as made up new usages for 😉
Dialectical usually goes with materialism, so I found it very funny that you co-opted it for your regionalism 🙂
Will Willingham says
I didn’t make it up?
Well then. For my next theory I’ll say that you like it because it sounds like “diabolical.” Which is a degree of mischief.
L. L. Barkat says
you could be right. I would let you be right about that 😉