Welcome from Amy D. Unsworth

Language, Literature, Learning & Life.

Primacy of the Word

Reading Scoplaw's poem tonight after having a conversation today on etymology, I'm reminded again how much for me the words themselves can be the inspiration for my writing. Yet, like the Scop says, these aren't my words. Which is perhaps one of the positives of being a writer versus a painter or sculpter or creator of crop-circles: the words are free. We can borrow them and combine them, chop them into pieces, squash them together in odd, beautiful, crazy, and fascinating ways.

I'm intrigued by the routes words take to appear in the language. Are there words that are more or less "authentic" for me as a writer to be using? When I increase my knowledge of another language will it be inappropriate for me to consider including words like el césped or una gansa? Was Pound right? All day I've been thinking about el césped, and the Sandburg poem.

I am the grass.
Let me work.

Soy el césped.
Déjame trabajar.

I wonder about translating too. Is it a practical tool for practice? If I'm going to spend time attempting to translate, do I translate into my mothertongue or into a target language. I like the way that trying to translate forces choices much like the choices I make in writing my own poems in English. Do I want "estoy" or "soy"? I choose the permanant "to be/ I am". Do I want "permitame" which is I believe is "allow me (to enter/leave?)" or déjame" which seems to mean "abandon me" or "let me be". And is that the command form of the verb? I don't know enough to say. There may be other better choices; my knowledge of Spanish is old and rusty.
But for now I like the sibilance of the first line and the harsher sounding plosives of the "d" and "t". There is always a give and take when ideas move across the language borders. Something is always lost, perhaps occasionally something sound-wise may be gained.

The linguistics folks say that the States will be officially bilingual sometime around 2020. Me too, I hope, at the very least bilingual. I want to collect words for my pockets, to spill over and out into the streets, the classrooms, and out into the woods and shorelines, and everywhere under my sky.

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