I’ve always been taken in by the beauty of other languages. I’m so charmed by accents and unfamiliar turns of phrase. In my twenties I would listen to recordings of Czechs speaking during my commute to the university and back, in an attempt to better navigate Prague when I would visit in the winters. (I should clarify the successful communication was mostly due to my multilingual friends who worked for the United Nations at the time, and not my very sincere and very flawed version of things…thank you Magdalena and Lucia!) But I was fascinated by the way the consonants all seemed to smash together, the way they could go on for some time before the introduction of a vowel (zmrzlina, for instance, is the word for ice cream).
When we were younger my sister and I rode the metro in Paris, our pronunciation better than our memories for the vocabulary we had learned back in school (“I think I just asked him how far is it to my foot…”.) Another one of my sisters sends me elegant little handwritten notes in Irish, a language as unfamiliar to me as the Japanese she is teaching her daughter to speak. I loved Southern Spain for the crossroads of different cultures, being so close to Morrocco. I stayed with freinds who had lived and worked in Palestine previously, Germany prior to that. I studied Italian during the lockdown, wishing I had learned it when my grandfather was still alive to speak it.
This Sunday February 26 I will be reading some poetry I have in the forthcoming anthology Love in the Original Language. If you’re unfamiliar with Fiona Bolger, you can read a little about her and her passion for languages in World Literature Today. I think that love is a language unto itself, and a very old one at that. Language learning is sparked by connections, and by listening, as is love.
|Sunday February 26, 2023 – 2pm|
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(in the Original Language)
Inspired by Fiona Bolger’s book Love in the Original Language–poems that inspire a love for the dignity of what is original and human – cross the borders of meaning, territory and flesh itself