Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ In Two or More Languages

“I can choose either to be a victim of the world 
or an adventurer in search of treasure. 
It's all a question of how I view my life.”
― Paulo CoelhoEleven Minutes

Midweek Motif ~ In Two or More Languages

Last week's St Patrick's Day gathering at dVerse Poets PubPubtalk– a Cult/ure thing? —made me want to read and write poems that show how we negotiate language and cultures in places we work and live.  

Your challenge: Write a new poem that gives us an experience of language and culture, using English and at least one other language. If you are not bilingual, consider using baby talk or slang, a specialized vocabulary, art or even music. 

For extra enjoyment, consider using rhymed couplets as in Rhina Espaillat's poem "Bilingual/Bilingue" below.  She is an inspiration!  Read about her HERE.



My father liked them separate, one there,
one here (allá y aquí), as if aware

that words might cut in two his daughter’s heart
(el corazón) and lock the alien part

to what he was—his memory, his name
(su nombre)—with a key he could not claim.

“English outside this door, Spanish inside,”
he said, “y basta.” But who can divide

the world, the word (mundo y palabra) from
any child? I knew how to be dumb

and stubborn (testaruda); late, in bed,
I hoarded secret syllables I read

until my tongue (mi lengua) learned to run
where his stumbled. And still the heart was one.

I like to think he knew that, even when,
proud (orgulloso) of his daughter’s pen,

he stood outside mis versos, half in fear
of words he loved but wanted not to hear.

Used by permission of poet Rhina P. Espaillat.  From her book Where Horizons Go: Poems, Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press, 1998; recipient of the T.S. Eliot Prize, 1998.  


1.      Post your  bi-lingual poem on your site, and then link it here.
2.      Share only original and new work written for this challenge. 
3.      Leave a comment here.
4.      Honor our community by visiting and commenting on others' poems.

(Next week's Midweek Motif will be April Fools for Poetry.)

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  1. ok, 5 minute response...haha...i will give it more thought...
    but i chose to play with idioms (hint, hint)...

    Heghlu'meH QaQ jajvam
    Aç it fırın deler
    & yma nown bleyth dhymm
    You are
    डूबते को तिनके का सहारा

    (languages: Klingon, Turkish, Cornish, English, Hindi) ***probably used way out of context, lol.

    Is Linky down? We were having problems with it late last night as well at dverse.

    1. I hope you will translate!

      Mr. Linky no longer likes doing any work until the minute it's due. Reminds me of a couple of incomplete's I got in college. C'est la vie!

    2. 1 Today is a good day to die
      2 A hungry dog will break through a bakery, (starving person can do impossible things)
      3 I've got the hunger of a wolf (I'm starving/very hungry)
      4 you are
      5 A straw supporting a drowning man

    3. That actually makes sense, but now I want to HEAR it! Can you make that happen, please?

    4. hahaha...over my pay grade...
      though i used to be able to speak rather fluent klingon
      when i was in the corporate sector one year our theme
      was space...and i dressed up like a klingon
      and gave key points in klingon during my training
      (with appropriate translation)...

    5. Intriguing prompt, Susan and Brian, you are such an over-achiever, hee hee....all cool languages and a fantastic poem! You are very clever.

  2. This is a very cool prompt idea. Will be a challenge but I am excited to try it out. The example by Rhina P. Espaillat is awesome.

    1. She and I exchanged a few emails. Awesome is right. I'd better send her this link now that it's working.

    2. You create awesome experiences!

  3. Nice prompt, Susan. It will be interesting to see what poets come up with in response.

  4. Susan...just have to clarify in poem was not a fable. This happened to me just as I wrote it....the whole thing really.

    1. Wow. Sorry to imply it was made up when I meant to say its implications go beyond the story.

    2. Thanks, Susan. I understand. Life can be composed of real fables for sure. I didn't want anyone to think, before they read it, that it not factual. It was really a very sad day for me.

  5. great prompt Susan...i tried French..not sure if i got it correctly... read French in school as a third language eons ago...

    1. Let me confess that I was late posting because all words escaped me today, even the English ones! I started three different poems bedsides this one, one about the language exchange wall my high school students created, one about taking a cooking class in Mexico to learn Spanish and one about lying in Latin emblems like "E Pluribus Unum." Sheesh.

  6. I have studied three language (would love to try klingon Bri). My fluency has faded with time
    I would rather not butcher words by trying to use a translator. the language I write of requires no words...

    1. smiles. i will send you my klingo language cd if i can find it moonie....smiles.

    2. Yes to the sign languages that cross many borders. And I think, outside of urban areas, it is still possible to live places where only one language is evident.

  7. This is challenging. I will post mine sometime today!

  8. What a tough one Susan...I have made some attempt...but not satisfied!

  9. anjum wasim dar
    Your link isn't working. I hope you will come by and try to link in again.

    1. Dear Susan Thanks for this note I will try again

    I hope the link works now...regards anjum wasim dar


    1. I put this address in and it works. Yay! language is something you know about! Your link contained a general prompt, not the specific poem.

  11. Hi Susan,

    I posted for your lovely prompt, cheers ~


    1. Steamy. And wait until you see next week's!

    2. April Fool poems should be fun, smiles ~

  12. Susan, I hope you realize the turmoil this causes to my poor brain. :-)

  13. Really great challenge Susan, thank you.

  14. Happy weekend, everyone! If you have more POEMS to post, put them in tomorrow's pantry. SEE YOU THERE!!

  15. Sorry to be late to the party. Great idea for a challenge!


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