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This is a bit off-topic from my language testing research posts, but it’s an interesting look into language use and it’s a nice break from these recent “annotated bibliography” posts.

I’ve been in a working slump these past couple of months. I haven’t been able to focus very well and I feel that I am not my normal productive self. Much of this may have to do with a change in workplace and challenges of learning a new position (and new academic culture), but in an effort to get back to my normal self, I thought I would try recreating aspects of my old work environment.

So, for the past two days I have begun listening to the CBC Radio3 podcasts just as I did in my old office. I’m not sure why I haven’t been listening to the podcast since we moved, but I think it’s because I want to focus all of my energy on the new job and I guess I perceived that listening to music while I work is not very effective.

As it turns out, the opposite may be true. The podcast may actually help me to stay focused and productive throughout the day rather than feeling burnt out and exhausted by noon. Maybe I need a little background noise; my quiet office might actually be too quiet for me (I always kept my door open at my old office and I had a steady stream of students and others walking by and carrying on conversations).

In any case, while listening to the podcasts that I have been missing from the past few months, I heard Hey Rosetta!‘s newest single, Red Heart. I have been a big fan of this Newfoundland sextet since first hearing them on Radio3 more than a year ago (in my old office). There music is multi-layered and rich and the lyrics are poetic and deep. I bought their debut album on iTunes almost instantly and I’m happy to hear that they have a new album out (though I am unhappy that it is not available yet on iTunes since a US release does not appear to have happened yet).

In listening to the words of red Heart, I can’t help but think about the writing of Canadian poet bp Nichol. I learned more about bp when taking a Canadian literature class as part of my undergraduate degree at SFU. I had little interest in poetry (and still don’t have much of an appetite for it), but I did like some of the experimental things that bp Nichol did with language and poetry. He seemed to enjoy repeating lines or poetry while making progressive changes to the words/sounds (as best evidenced by some of his Fraggle Rock songs/poems). It feel as though the poet is experimenting with the words and allowing them to take on new meaning (and their own life) as they change from one set of sounds to others, bit by bit.

If you are familiar with bp Nichol, then you will know that he was influenced by the work of Gertrude Stein, an American poet who spent a lot of time in Europe and liked to associate herself with experimental artists (including Piscasso). At first contact, Stein’s work is odd – really odd. It is said that, after reading some of her poetry, her own brother (a poet himself) figured she was retarded or otherwise brain damaged. Here’s an example:
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