Friday, January 22, 2016

A New Word a Week

A simple request to self, a simple resolution – to learn a word a week. 2016. Various languages. Whichever.

“Okay, so hey guys we have been commissioned to perform piece involving opera singers and an urban poet.”

The urban poet was intuiting, reading Google for material. “You have to watch out,” I warned, “when there is a catastrophe the big companies buy the top spots on word combinations and the critiques sink to the bottom of the pond.”

“Are they commemorating a death?” We all looked at the commission instructions for the private bash. A short poem had been specifically requested and Bach’s “Erbarme dich.”

“Someone died.” Stated the urban poet shaking his head. Indeed the poem was a nostalgic and macabre ode to a child’s death.

“No!” Our agent, organizer and colleague replied vehemently. “I am sure that no one has died.”

“It can’t be otherwise! I mean look at the thing!” retorted the poet. “You two definitely cannot wear those black feather wings. This is going to be bad!” His sneakers looked brand new. He meant bad as in disaster.

I translated the poem the company provided from Dutch to English. The urban poet wrote his own text to spit.

“It’s called spitting.” My upper class British friend explained to me in her public school accent. “Not rapping.” I was telling her about the urban poet. Frankly I am not sure he recited or spat but it whatever you call it these days, but it was a big success.

“Can you give us a light version of Erbarme dich?” Came the amended request per email, tcha - nerves were showing, in light if the festivities.

“Look,” said the organizer to me and the other singer in another rehearsal, “Just hum the first line of Erbarme dich when C. says X and Y. And I think your faces should be painted gold.”

Afterwards, crusted in gold paint, we all congratulated each other down stairs in the kitchen. “I’m glad,” the organizer said to me, “you two didn’t improvise on any more Erbarme dich while C.  finished his poem.”

Logorrhéique, my new French word of the week, especially wearing a pair of black feather wings.  Figure out when to stop.


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