From “CHOAM” to “Chewbacca”: 10 Ways to Create New Words for New Worlds

Word Jazz

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Imagine you are some deity about to create a new universe from scratch, including all of its stars and planets, mountains and oceans, plants and animals. You’ll probably start with a handful of subatomic particles, a sprinkling of energy, and give it all a good mix together. If, as is more likely, you are a writer trying to build a new universe on your typewriter your building blocks are going to be different. To create a new Star Wars galaxy, or the desert planet of Arrakis, or the island of Westeros, you’re going to need new words – and more than just a few of them…

2015 is quite a year for science fiction fans. This December will see the release of the seventh chapter in the Star Wars series, The Force Awakens, one of the most eagerly anticipated films of all time – and

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Sitting in Bryant Park With You

Dropped Calls


Sitting in Bryant Park With You

Is even more fun than singing Bon Jovi
with Puerto Ricans in Old San Juan,
or faking my German through East Berlin
clubs, or even ditching out of the studio,
my vintage Fender guitar still buzzing through
the neglected amp as I dashed out
on my friend to meet you in Washington Square.
Partly because in your red summer dress
you look like a happier St. Anne
(saint of the childless), partly
because of my infatuation with you,
partly because your love of donuts,
partly because of the descending fountain,
men playing bocce, the impromptu reading room,
the elegant NYPL standing sentinel over us,
partly the secrecy of our smiles,
like we know something
they don’t.

It is hard to believe when I’m with you
there can be anything as still,
as pleasantly definitive,
as absolutely rooted when we are right
in front of…

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How to politicise a tragedy

Idiot Joy Showland

I am writing this the morning after a series of violent attacks in Paris that left over one hundred and twenty people dead, and still it feels callous to even be writing about it. As much of the world reels, there’s something very brutal about the idea that now is a good time to demand that others listen to your very clever opinion. If it’s barbarism to write poetry after Auschwitz, then it’s also barbarism to write thinkpieces after Paris. Don’t politicise; don’t use mass murder to score rhetorical points against your enemies, don’t crow je te l’avais bien dit, don’t play tug-of-war with the bodies, don’t make this about yourself, don’t make this about politics.

Which on the face of it is odd: death is always political, and nothing is more political than a terrorist attack. These events happen for political reasons, and they have political…

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The Drama, The Suspense, The Thrill of a Wildebeest Crossing

If you haven’t seen a wildebeest crossing in person, trust me, no documentary will ever do it justice. It’s like trying to capture the enormity of the Himalayas in a photograph, or the feeling of flying in a hot air balloon from a video. They’re unlike anything you’ve seen before. Every crossing is unique and filled with mystery, suspense and adrenaline-pumping action worthy of a Bruckheimer film, and all to often, the morbid thrills of Jaws.

Wildebeest leaps into the Mara River at the beginning of a crossing in Kenya Wildebeest at the beginning of a crossing leap into the Mara River. On the rocks, carcasses of fallen comrades are stiff and bloated. A croc sunning itself on the bank of the Mara River doesn’t seem to be much of a deterrent.

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