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.
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.
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3 thoughts on “NaPoWriMo Day Four: Linda Collins – Speaking in Tongues”
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
(now read backwards)
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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?
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[…] Linda Collins is a poet from New Zealand and currently living in Norwich. She found poetry following the death of her 17-year-old daughter which led to extensive writing and studying and the publication of her collection Sign Language for the Death of Reason. […]