Slice of Life Story -When Words Come Calling at Day's End




Words shape our sense of self and sense of place. As a child, my father regularly engaged me in wordplay. He awoke my awareness of their power and application. As a result, I have always enjoyed words.

For many years I have been collecting them in my notebooks and on paper scraps having gleaned them from conversations in which I participated, or merely overheard. I have  scavenged them like buried treasure from readings and research. Some of these words used by extraordinary writers and poets have set my head spinning and my heart singing with joy at their sound and shape and power. There is something quite magical in the way certain words instantly enhance our relationship with people and places.





In Charlotte Zolotow's picture book 'The Seashore Book' I met the word 'squaggling' for the first time when the author wrote -'the crabs were squaggling at our feet.'




More recently Robert MacFarlane has shared words such as blatter, spangin, scraunching and marcescent  with me as I read his wonderful book, 'Landmarks' celebrating the glorious connection between landscapes and language.





Words are a poet's oxygen. They are a constant and essential presence. Because poets are logophiles (lovers of words), it is therefore unsurprising we are ever ready to receive them when they come calling. Words for me are most welcome visitors. Words with smooth and gentle tones float by, some mysterious and puzzling, others plummet in, or crash land, jagged, pithy, confronting -all are received with suitable respect. 

I frequently find myself reflecting in my writing upon the constant joy derived from this sweet connection with written and spoken language. I hope this poem provides some small insight as to my personal relationship with wondrous words...



Words That Come At Night

Sometimes
The words of unwritten poems
Slide into bed next to me
They nestle on my pillow
And whisper in my ear
Write me down
Write me down
Remember me
In tomorrow’s early light

Commit to memory

These sweet refrains and edgy fragments
Soft echoes at the edge of sleep
The words of unwritten poems
Final thoughts
Last visitors
Before sleep swallows the room.

Alan j Wright



Comments

  1. Love the poem. I often talk to students about the way certain words feel in my mouth and sound in my ears. The uniqueness of words and the way they connect to anatomy fascinates me, probably because I teach speech as well as English.


    Happy New Year!

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    1. You are clearly a fellow logophile Glenda! Happy New Year to you too...

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  2. Beautiful poem. Many beautiful phrases and truths here - "Words are a poet's oxygen." How fortunate you were to have that early infusion of wordplay. I also love encountering a word new to me when reading - such as "sprezzatura." It's a bit much for a OLW, but, yes, I can live it! Your post is a perfect way to begin this new day - many thanks.

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    1. Fran, it pleases me to think my post about words has helped to start your day on a positive note. Thank you for your remarks.

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  3. I love how you speak of "meeting" words and am so glad you shared some of your new favorites--which were new to me as well. Word play is the best!

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    1. Thank you Molly. Wordplay is so important to our writing lives. I am pleased that I have been asked to present workshops this year in how to stimulate wordplay among student writers.

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  4. Thank you for this gift this morning, Alan. Your prose is as poetic as your poetry. "Words That Come At Night" will have a home in my notebook.

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    1. Thank you Rose. I am humbled by your generous remarks. It is pleasing to think words that began in my writer's notebook will travel across the world and nestle in your writer's notebook. I know they will be safe there.

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  5. I could feel this poem as I read and reread it. The urgency of the words, but the drowsiness just before sleep. Love it.

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    1. Thank you Deb. The poet aims to evoke a response from the reader. Thank for this feedback. It is much appreciated.

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  6. As a lover of words, you may already know this book, but just in case, I think you would enjoy the beautiful picture book called The Boy Who Loved Words by Roni Schotter.

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    1. I do indeed have this book. I bought it while working in NYC. It jumped off the shelves and into my arms. A word lover's delight.

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  7. Your thoughts reminded me of a line delivered by lawyer Henry Drummond (ideally played by a gruff Spencer Tracy) in "Inherit the Wind" after he's castigated for cursing in the courtroom: "I don't swear for the hell of it. Language is a poor enough means of communication. We've got to use all the words we've got. Besides, there are damn few words anybody understands." Here's to steadily, joyfully adding more words to the ones we've got!

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    1. Your remarks brought back strong memories of Spencer Tracey and his role in this language rich film script. I therefore enjoyed your reference to the words, 'We've got to use all the words we've got...' Thanks Brian, I most certainly agree with your closing remarks.

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