What power do words have, and how do their meanings change across centuries—and continents? We talk to Andrew Motion, former Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom, about how moving from Britain to Baltimore changed his work; Jennifer Choi unearths the cruel etymology behind an innocuous blue birthmark; and Max Décharné draws a map of the vulgar tongue.
Go beyond the episode:
- “My Mongolian Spot,” Jennifer Choi’s essay on having a blue behind
- Four poems by Andrew Motion, including “Surveillance,” which he read on the podcast
- Listen to more poets read their work on the Poetry Archive, founded by Andrew Motion during his time as Poet Laureate
- Max Décharné’s Vulgar Tongues: An Alternative History of the English Language
- Our back to school required reading list
- Don’t forget to send us an email at email@example.com if you want us to mail you swag!
Tune in every two weeks to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.
Download the audio here (right click to “save link as …”)
Have suggestions for projects you’d like us to catch up on, or writers you want to hear from? Send us a note: podcast [at] theamericanscholar [dot] org. And rate us on iTunes!
Our theme music was composed by Nathan Prillaman.