Rhapsodies in Blue

Vulgar tongues, cruel etymologies, and a spot of poetry


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:

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.

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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.

Permission required for reprinting, reproducing, or other uses.

Stephanie Bastek is the senior editor of the Scholar and the producer/host of the Smarty Pants podcast.


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