Smarty Pants Podcast

Rhapsodies in Blue

Vulgar tongues, cruel etymologies, and a spot of poetry

By Stephanie Bastek | September 15, 2017

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.

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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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Our theme music was composed by Nathan Prillaman.

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