NaPoWriMo Day Four: Linda Collins – Speaking in Tongues

Picture: Oamaru Mail

Today New Zealand poet Linda Collins shares a prompt based on a poem from her collection Sign Language for the Death of Reason. She invites us to write a poem informed by the thought: Speaking in tongues.

Linda says:

I came up with this prompt, after re-reading a poem of mine, About this poem, in my debut collection, Sign Language for the Death of Reason, and on encountering Joelle Taylor’s remarkable C+nto, specifically these lines on page 64: ‘the last part of her body / they show her is her tongue the police / & the woman crowd / around the /o/pen palm of the sergeant / gazing down at the thing its pink grief /’.


With my own poem, I work in words from the Croatian language and how words can mean different things depending on how you hear them, and I reflect on intergenerational trauma and how even swear-words become touchstones of identity.


And with C+nto, I became aware of the tongue as its own powerful tool, in what it can represent, and it what it enables us to physically voice.


Of course, there is also a religious implication in the phrase, ‘speaking in tongues’, but it need not be about that at all.

Linda Collins (she/her) has a debut poetry collection, Sign Language for the Death of Reason (Math Paper Press),  and is the author of the memoir Loss Adjustment (Ethos Books Singapore; Awa Press New Zealand).  She is runner-up in the Mslexia Poetry Contest, and was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize in Poetry last year. She’s doing the Poetry MA at UEA.

Please share your responses to today’s prompt either in the comments or via email. The best submissions will be featured in future podcasts.

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2 thoughts on “NaPoWriMo Day Four: Linda Collins – Speaking in Tongues”

  1. I appear to be
    all whys and hows, not what
    an act of translation should be:
    dappled in the wisdom
    of other tongues lapping,
    the invisible ripples
    you might feel;
    I cannot tell
    what

    (now read backwards)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. If You Befriend a Poet

    You’ll notice a new aroma like almost burnt garlic
    that’s the fumes of alliteration ionized by an internal rhyme combustion engine
    or sumptin or other

    i say that to say this; we’re like social cats our vision scissoring the room into sunlight

    what im gettin’ at is the other day i stubbed my iambic toe

    what i mean is, we’ll brighten your idea of the day

    go ahead and ask:

    “Alright, how was your day?”

    every year on my birthday i find my snuggest turtleneck sweater and reenact my birth
    how was yours?

    Liked by 1 person

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