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.
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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