The tongue is a slippery thing. At times, slick and suave; at times, sarky and snarky. This piece of flesh blesses, then curses, then… does whatever it fancies.
We delude ourselves into thinking we have tamed the tongue; in fact, it is the tongue that tames us, leads us according to its own whims. We don’t speak our languages; our languages force us to speak them. Why else would we prescribe to their linguistic rules?
But we do anyway. For to speak words is to speak culture, is to speak life. In order to harness its power, we sacrifice much to retrain our tongues, readapting our muscles to accommodate new ways of speech—not just languages, but for new situations, peoples and senses made common. We acclimatise astonishingly well.
In oppressive societies where freedom is limited and creativity hindered, it is the bold who dare to stick out their tongues; the courageous whose tongues are yanked and ripped out, tips guillotined, severed organs flapping violently on the ground. Their bloody loss of speech speaks loudly, the grotesque out in the open for all to see—and hear.
Fearless and valiant, the writers in our third issue examine the tongue and its consequences. Some deal with language, while others explore the implications of what is said, and—just as, if not arguably more, important—what is not said. Locations span from Israeli operating rooms to Shanghai suburbs, from divided South Africa to small-town America.
We are delighted to feature Paul Batchelor, an Eric Gregory Award-winning British poet, and Vidyan Ravinthiran, a poet shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. We have also published our first photo essay, ‘Lalang’, by Khatleen Minerve, shot in Port Louis, Mauritius.
Tremble in trepidation at the tongue’s dominance, or be electrified by its endless capabilities—it’s really up to you. Or rather, that damned slippery thing.