Slip of the tongue. Writing to be heard is not the same as writing to be read. I teach this. I preach this.
I’m a massive fan of spoken word poetry. I listen to the world’s great orators and hear the rhythm and music in their compositions. I must have listened to Obama’s Audacity of Hope speech 50 times or more and that soldier patrolling the Mekong Delta still moves me. I remember years ago banging on at the wonderful Neil McCarthy and asking him to record his poety because I wanted to hear it, not read it. He did. And I’m grateful.
We underestimate the power of words. We don’t spend long enough searching for the right ones. We speak without thinking. Social media has us conditioned to respond quickly. Now. Not later. Now. We fire off missives without checking how they might sound, how others might hear what we write, what others might read into our words. We’re careless. We’re lazy. And we hurt people. Perhaps unintentionally. But we do. In wanting or need to be right, we add unthinkingly to the growing divisiveness in society. We add to the polarity. We add to the general angst because we don’t take the time to choose our words. The right words.
Words dress our thoughts. They clothe our ideas. They fashion our opnions. We spend ages shopping for the right car, the right pair of shoes, the right shirt. We take our time when choosing glasses or deciding on a new hair cut. But we fire off words without thinking.
Yesterday, I was introduced to Imelda May’s spoken word album Slip of the Tongue, and in particular to her compostion Home. It spoke to me. She spoke to me.
It’s a beautiful composition. Every word does something. Every word has a job. And she gives the words life.
I’m the bitin’ on your lip keepin’ it zipped
Swallowin’ words that could wound and rip apart
I’m choosin’ kindness over bein’ right.
Thanks, Imelda. I needed that.