Voice Lessons: Six Meditations on Language and Authenticity
The works of June Jordan, Albert Camus, and Edward Said reveal the power of voice in literature.
We sit down to have a chat
It’s F-word this and F-word that
I can’t control how you young people talk with one another . . .
Above the fray
An aha moment
enforced with punishments for those caught speaking other languages. But even before arriving at Victoria College, Said didn’t know what his own language was. “Arabic, my native language, and English, my school language, were inextricably mixed,” he wrote. “I have never known which was my first language, and have felt fully at home in neither, although I dream in both. Every time I speak an English sentence, I find myself echoing it in Arabic, and vice versa.”
The Myth of Sisyphus
A stranger to myself and to the world, armed solely with a thought that negates itself as soon as it asserts, what is this condition in which I can have peace only by refusing to know and to live, in which the appetite for conquest bumps into walls that defy its assaults?
So long as the mind keeps silent in the motionless world of its hopes, everything is reflected and arranged in the unity of its nostalgia. But with its first move this world cracks and tumbles: an infinite number of shimmering fragments is offered to the understanding.
The Color Purple
The Color Purple
I was measuring time in weeks since conception and as the first weeks passed, I wasn’t getting any closer to a decision.
At thirty-eight this wasn’t exactly my last chance but it was a chance, here for the taking.
As I walked around the pond I found myself thinking about my pregnancy for what seemed like the first time in days, or was it weeks? It had been such a driving force, the impossible choice, the torment of it and then it was swallowed up by that quick succession of events, the nightmares and then the reality underneath them, these truths I had been hiding from for so long, and I realized something obvious that I had managed to miss, my pregnancy had led me to face the truth, to begin to understand who I am and what my life has been.
Steven Wineman is the author of The Politics of Human Services (South End Press, 1984) and Power-Under: Trauma and Nonviolent Social Change (self-published at www.TraumaAndNonviolence.com, 2003). His work has appeared most recently in Cincinnati Review, Blue Lyra Review, Bangalore Review, and Cognoscenti. His play Jay, or the Seduction was produced at Columbia University. Steve retired in 2014 after working in community mental health for 35 years.
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