The Language Regime, Lila

6 Feb


Feedback on the following would be really useful:
Structure and how to make it more succinct and have more impact.
Speech – does that work?
Are the scenes and story clear enough, (how can the flow be improved)


The Language Regime

I, you, he, she, we, you plural, they
Yo, tu, el, ella, nosotros, vosotros, ellos.


We met in a thai themed bar.
Seating booths parted by dried grass
Chiseled bamboo steps
‘mi swing es tropical’ salsa poured out from
The mouths of totem poles.
Red lighting dimmed to a sultry level
Suggested that only I had brought a dictionary.

But still. Two months confined to mirror conversations
And excluded from youthful eventualities
I craved an evening a little ‘diferente’.

He offered a drink.
“Una cerveza por favor”.
A fishbowl with two over-sized straws returned.
I asked where he worked.
He asked if I moved alone.
I said my boyfriend helped me pack.
‘Te gustas bailar salsa?’
The dance of puzzle piece hips.
Fitted chests.

Finger collision when reaching for
Straws were not accidental.
I thought my exchange requests were
Simple language.
Hello, I need to practice…
Men responded quicker than women.
But there were no kisses.
No profile photo.
No P.S. I’ve already learnt body parts
But I thought it was clear.

Lluis – The Teacher

I joined a Spanish class. Late.
Additional sessions to help me prepare me
was suggested.
We met at ‘Les Quatre Gats’
A gentleman played piano from an opulent platform.
The tiled walls told stories of romance
And the waiter never left your glass empty.

He told me about his ill mother.
Of living in the mountain with a view of the city.
Living at distance.

He slurped. He slurred. We left.
He gave the customary two besos (mwah mwah)
After not acknowledging language once
He assured me, I’d be fine.

I was relieved. to leave.

“Don’t be ashamed” he shouted.
Was my interest in languages painted onto my face
To create red-lipped dates?
Or was it my fault because I gave the wrong signal
By wearing makeup, to cover the late night grammar books
That rested beneath my eyes?
Perhaps his English isn’t perfect
He mistook the word for careful?
Be careful?

He embraced me.


We met at a café in a square,
An older gentleman
Married, two children, Elia and Julian.
We covered the historical sites of Barcelona,
His job and lost dreams.
We drank cervesas with languages guides.
Laughed at pronunciation, took notes of new words.
He gave me the do’s and dont’s.
He forced me to ask for la cuenta, por favor.
I walked him to his motorbike.
Two kisses.

“Wait, how about a night drive”

I refrained my tongue from spitting vocabulary:
apple, the day after tomorrow, one times, two times
nearly always. I’m lonely.

“I have work early”.

“I’ll take you home”

I walk towards my friend – the metro, and remind myself to include
P.S. I have already learnt body parts.


One Response to “The Language Regime, Lila”

  1. mouthypoets February 7, 2014 at 10:40 pm #

    Honestly – I love this whole poem. Amazing use of different sections, a seductive story that is both original and familiar. It feels personal and universal and really connected with me in humour and also emotional depth. A really really strong piece, I have a couple challenges but they really are for 2% tightening kind of stuff so don’t be too tough with it.

    -a name as a title and the way that interacts with the first line.

    -the luxurious use of language/imagery; dried grass image // chiseled bamboo steps // the mouths of totem poles //

    -some really interesting turns of phrase e.g. the dance of puzzle piece hips. Fitted chests.

    -the use of Spanish (?) and English, I think you have set it up I a really interesting apt and educational way. I really look forward to seeing how you will play around with the performance of that element.

    -nice specificity; the fish bowl //

    -I like the way you direct the narrative I really surprising and original ways, this is often done with the speech which in answer to your question I feel is very strong. Some particular favourites of mine are; he asked if I moved alone //

    -really love the ending of the first section – a real sense of giving me just the right amount of information for me to understand the characters and also want more!

    -the contrasting tones of the different sections works really well – am really curious to see how you map these out in performance.

    -love the cyclical end, it works really well.

    -performance wise how are you going to introduce the language regime? Using projection might be an option?

    Structure & succinctness:
    -look at every stanza as a unit of meaning; an image, an event, a tone – each new stanza changes the event, meaning, image or tone and looking at line breaks a highlighting elements on these. This enables you to cut out repetition, tighten up images, reorder sentences and ask yourself – what do I actually mean here or what is the most important point in this unit? Is this unit important at all. My example below should be interesting because I am editing it with my knowledge but being guided by what I think is happening – what you are currently telling me through the words (I am afraid I have had to simply cut out the lines I don’t understand)…

    We met in a Thai themed bar.
    Seating booths parted by dried grass.
    Chiseled bamboo steps.

    ‘Mi swing es tropical’ salsa
    Poured our from mouths of totem poles.
    Red lighting dimmed to sultry.

    Me – the only one who brought a dictionary.
    But still. For two months it’s been me and a mirror:
    conversing. Excluded from my own youth

    I craved an evening a little ‘differente’ (etc…)

    -analyse my changes, they are subtle, but clarify and condense the action and narrative. I challenge you to carry these methods on and edit the piece into 3 lines stanzas. I think this should also help tighten the narrative at times when it becomes unclear (this tends to happen when you get carried away with the music of the language rather than the meaning of the sentence).

    2. Word choices.
    -when doing the process above I think a thesaurus would be really handy as I think a little bit more time over word choices will help you tighten up certain phrases and images.

    Well done.

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