‘Keep Calm And Jazz It Up’: The Productive Art of Creative Linguistic Variation

Word Jazz

ImageIf you’ve been to the UK in the last few years, you won’t have been able to avoid the latest craze sweeping the nation. It’s a craze which seems to manifest itself everywhere: in shop windows, on T-shirts, in adverts – even in language blogs. And it’s one that has at its heart one very simple phrase.

On the eve of World War II, the UK Government displayed posters across the country carrying the very simple plea to ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’. The message – simply stated and boldly written – was clear: to get through the war, the nation couldn’t afford to panic.

After the war was over, the poster had surely had its day. But then, in 2001, some enterprising soul came up with the  idea of printing new copies of it for sale. The rest, as they say, is history.

Since then, the poster…

View original post 1,329 more words

Advertisements

Charlie and Louie: An Affair of Two Magazines, Two Cities, and Too Many Questions

Humor in America

Je suis Charlie Hebdo, et aussi Michel Brown, et aussi Darren Wilson et aussi… As Teresa Prados-Torreira recently observed in this space, the last month has seen an international slurry of reactions to the Charlie Hebdo Massacre from outraged officials, scampering journalists, erstwhile academics, dedicated peace-keepers, and, of course, the international community of artists, cartoonists, and satirists. Prados-Torreira astutely summarizes in her 20 January post, “at first glance, it seems obvious that the answer to this dilemma should be a wholehearted affirmation of the need to stand in solidarity with the French magazine, with the murdered cartoonists, and in support of free speech. But the content of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons, their irreverent depiction of Mohammed and Muslims, have resulted in a cascade of critical essays online and elsewhere.”

Many have since noted that, for interpreters within and beyond French culture, the magazine’s scabrous treatment of all things sacred…

View original post 2,805 more words

10 Short Medieval Poems Everyone Should Read

Interesting Literature

Looking for some great short medieval poems which are easy to read? Look no further than this, our latest post…

Medieval poetry can be a daunting field to dip into (to mix our metaphors terribly). Although Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and Dante’s Divine Comedy are masterpieces and essential reading, perhaps the best route into medieval poetry – as with any poetry – is to start small. What follows is our pick of the best short medieval poems written in English.

They are all presented in the original Middle English, because here at Interesting Literature we believe that that’s the best way to read the poems. This does mean that several words/phrases need glossing, so we’ve done this briefly before each poem. All of these poems were written (or at least written down) some time during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries: our source for them is the excellent Penguin book of Medieval…

View original post 1,117 more words

Sam Quinn’s Success.

Deformedly Gracious

This is a story, entirely fictional, of a young boy who thought he was following his dreams.

Sam Quinn, a young aspiring artist, moved to the city. He did not visit the sites, he did not see the Queen, he simply stayed in his attic studio flat and painted.

Scan 2014-9-1 0002

He had forgotten time. The only indicators of the days passed were the scarcity of clean socks in his drawer and the wall of free newspapers blocking the front door. Sam Quinn decided it was time to leave the house.

Scan 2014-9-1 0004

He walked up and down Gallery Street and visited gallery after gallery, trying to get his work exhibited.

Scan 2014-9-1 0002_2

But he was laughed out the door every time.

Scan 2014-9-1 0006

Filled with grief and remorse, Sam Quinn returned to his attic flat and did the only thing he could do. He painted. He painted and painted in such a frenzy that he broke his paintbrush.

Scan 2014-9-1 0006-4_2

And cut his hand.

View original post 299 more words

How Harper Lee Saved Me

Exile on Pain Street

Several people have pinged me about the announcement of Harper Lee’s new novel. It’s based on a recently-discovered manuscript that she wrote in mid-50’s and takes place 20 years after To Kill A Mockingbird.

I think just about everyone has already read and commented on this post but I thought I’d rerun it. It’s the reason why people are reaching out to me with this wonderful news. It explains who I am and why I’m typing these words right now. I’d be a hot mess if it weren’t for her.


Today is the 50th anniversary of the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s the single most important book in my life.

I didn’t read a book until I was 20 years old. It’s true! They attempted to force-feed me while attending my below-average schools, but I made it clear that I would only read a book under protest…

View original post 510 more words

Muriel Spark: An Interview

tobylitt

[This interview was for the Penguin Website, and took place in September 2000. As it seems to be down there, I’ve decided to put it up here. The ‘Interview About Interviews’ follows.]

‘Grand,’ was the request received, and grand most certainly was the Georgian Room of the Connaught Hotel – venue of the dinner marking publication of Muriel Spark’s Aiding and Abetting.

Grand, also, was the entrance of the novelist herself (a “Grand Dame” in all languages – English, French (give or take an ‘e’) and American): diminutively sized, immaculately dressed, comically a-twinkle and canonically present.

My interview with Muriel Spark was divided into two parts: fax and phone. In order to render it readable, I shall mix it up with the meeting – at dinner, in the Georgian Room of the Connaught Hotel.

This was only the second interview I had ever conducted. The first, with Michael…

View original post 1,037 more words

Blame It On Jamie Lee Curtis

Silver in the Barn

Why I would imagine that the color of my hair would hold an iota of interest to you, dear reader, cannot be explained other than to say I learned the hard way that it’s a subject that can ignite opinion, solicited or not.

11

I was serving as parliamentarian for a civic organization a few years ago and during a meeting, one of the members, henna-tressed, suddenly blurted out “What are you doing to your hair?”

“Nothing, really. I’ve just decided to stop coloring it.”

Stunned silence. Or as the hipsters say, “Crickets.” Just like that I was able to stop the proceedings of our monthly meeting. What power.

The president of the group, a woman in her mid-70s with expensively highlighted blonde hair, then offered this little gem: “But Barbara! You’re much too young to go gray!”

Tell that to the melanin levels in my hair follicles, please.

And as I looked out at the women around…

View original post 808 more words

An open letter to Gov. Scott Walker: stop perpetuating the myth of the lazy professor

The Contemplative Mammoth

Dear Gov. Walker,

Last week, you told professors at the University of Wisconsin that they needed to “work harder.” You were making a case that the Wisconsin state budget crisis could be ameliorated by increasing employee efficiency, and you suggested having faculty teach at least one more class. I’m not going to talk about whether or not the budget crisis is manufactured (some have argued it could be solved by accepting federal funds for the state’s Badger Care health program), or whether your real goal is really partisan politics, and not fiscal responsibility.

Ouch. Ouch. Photo by fellow UW Madison geographer Sigrid Peterson.

Instead, I want to talk about the myth of the lazy professor, a stereotype that you’ve reinforced with your comment. I spent 2005 to 2012 at the University of Wisconsin, where I obtained a PhD in the Department of Geography; I am now an assistant professor at the University of Maine.

When you…

View original post 1,066 more words

What is seen and what is said

The New English Landscape

005 copy

Derelict barn, Dartford, Kent, 2007

In 1936 the writer James Agee and photographer Walker Evans were commissioned by Fortune magazine to produce an article on the lives of poor sharecroppers in the American South. The ethos of Roosevelt’s New Deal produced a whole series of collaborations between writers, photographers, artists, composers, choreographers and ethnologists, encouraged and funded to portray the lives of everyday American life in all its regions and cultures. The article eventually led to a book which was published in 1941, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, now regarded as one of the great books of the 20th century. In his introduction, Agee wrote quite specifically on the relationship between the words and the images: ‘The photographs are not illustrative. They, and the text, are coequal, mutually independent, fully collaborative.’

The subject of how writers and photographers work together is, not surprisingly, something which deeply interests…

View original post 612 more words

Honoring My Mother: My First Repost

Melissa Writes of Passage

image courtesy of Dwight Pounds Image courtesy of Dwight Pounds

Image courtesy of Dwight Pounds Image courtesy of Dwight Pounds

Driving the plane tree-canopied Roman roads of southern France with my parents last week, I noticed in my peripheral vision that my mom, sitting next to me in the back seat, was gripping the door handle.

Why the grip? I thought. She’s buckled in, there’s no one else on this road, Randall’s a safe driver, and we’re cruising this long, straight line. 

Mid-thought, I realized I was gripping my door handle, too. Exactly like her.

I also saw my mom was chewing gum. (I dislike gum-chewing.)

And mid-thought, I realized I was mid-chawnk.

She’s so animated, I’d been noticing all week, and look at her whip up a conversation with any stranger. Like me, my kids say.  And just like the way she used to call for us – operatically, throughout our little Utah neighborhood –– “Oh, Daaaaaltons! Come…

View original post 1,496 more words