The Poetry Question

Discovering the Relevance of Words

QOTD: What is your favorite word (and why)?

My first QOTD stems directly from the driving question of this initiative – Is Poetry still relevant in the 21st century? To answer the question truthfully would not only be to explore the society of today, but all of recorded history. It is a question at the very root of the human condition. Is Poetry relevant today? Has poetry ever (or always) been relevant? It is a question that can be answered in thousands of words, eloquently written and meticulously explained—or can be summed up in one word: yes.

What is poetry if not a collection of words attempting desperately to describe that which cannot fully ever be explained, to share an unsharable moment? How then, can poetry not be relevant to any person at any time in any place?

Words, then, are the building blocks of humanity (at least until google and SIRI join forces to rise up and hijack our brains into Philip K. Dick’s dystopian wet dream). The beauty and power of a word can never be explained, it must be understood. As one may create the universe one blink at a time, we construct understanding one word at a time.

When he was two, my nephew’s favorite word was “no”. A majority of my high school students seem to categorize into two camps – #SWAG or Ratchet. As for me, I have always held a strong affinity for the word facetious – maybe it’s my lifelong search for irony or maybe it’s the perfect organization of vowels (a,e,I,o,u – if you are a “sometimes Y” kind of person, try facetiously).

At different ages and stages our words change, but there are always those we hold near and dear. So today’s question: What is your favorite word and why?

— J. Gabriel Allan

About Jamaal

Lover of words, liver of life, director of theatre, keeper of keys and grounds at Hogwarts. Twitter: @JamaalAllan

3 comments on “QOTD: What is your favorite word (and why)?

  1. chaseca
    April 30, 2013

    I have two favorites… Manifest and lugubrious. I have just always liked “manifest.” I don’t know why.

    I have grapheme-color synesthesia, as does my daughter, and letters and numbers have unique colors to me. I appreciate “lugubrious” because it sounds exactly like what it is… Dismal, melancholy, sad… And it’s colors reflect its meaning as well… Smoky gray, brown, black.

  2. J.
    April 30, 2013

    It is very American to love the word (and concept) MANIFEST…

    Seriously, though, what a beautiful gift.
    Enjoy these words from your fellow synesthete Patricia Lynne Duffy, “I realized that to make an ‘R’ all I had to do was first write a ‘P’ and then draw a line down from its loop. And I was so surprised that I could turn a yellow letter into an orange letter just by adding a line.”

  3. Veronica Russell
    April 30, 2013

    Hmmm… a favorite word? One single word? That’s not an easy task, Mr. Allan. Words are like, well, like your children, your pets or your students. You like quite a few of them, but for different reasons. I like some words simply because of how they sound, or how they feel on the tongue: “cull” and “plum” are simple, single-syllable words, but say them properly, give them time and you’ll see… err.. feel what I mean. Some words I like because, in addition to how they sound, they sound, onomatopoeically, like what they mean. “Cacophony” and “persnickety” are favorites here. But, I think my most favorite words of all are those that exhibit the beautiful precision in our language. “Nice” is weak, vague, nearly worthless. I prefer the more descriptive: “delightful,” “delicate,” “fastidious,” “punctilious,” or sometimes, “it fucking figures.”

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