opening an inky mouth

December 31, 2010 at 2:32 pm (Uncategorized)

Steph Tout photography

After my first day of primary school, four years old and freckly, I stormed into my house in a rage. Throwing my red vinyl Mickey Mouse bag across the room, I burst into tears and howled to my stunned parents “I’ve had a whole day of school, and I still can’t read and write yet!”

I was ink hungry even as a child. I was also, it has to be said, pretty damn stroppy.

Neither trait has left me.

At seventeen, about to launch myself on the European world with a year studying languages in Brussels, I delved into dictionaries and thought long and hard about what my first ever Dutch sentence should be. With green hair, a volume of Sylvia Plath poetry in one hand and The Exploited on my stereo, I chose the delightfully belligerent statement only a surly teenager could deem worthy: Ik ben het er niet mee eens. I disagree with you.

I adored the way the sounds burst from my throat, starting a lifelong love affair with Germanic languages, and many a phlegmish/Flemish joke. Years later, I sat in the first lecture of my linguistics degree and learned those particularly harsh sounds were velar fricatives, and they still sound sweet to my greedy ears. Subsequent lectures introduced me to the delectable world of philology, sociolinguistics, syntax, phonetics, semantics and psycholinguistics, and an ever growing collection of spines on my shelves.

Chase ahead a few more years, and I’m standing in front of a class of international students. Knowing I get paid to dive into dictionaries, to draw the branches of the Proto-Indo-European language family on a whiteboard or have my students analyse Nick Cave lyrics, makes me shine. And the joy of hearing beautifully fractured English makes my smile reach my eyes, such as the earnest young man who said “We get on like a horse on fire.”

Indeed.

There are the words that fall out of my own fingers, and lead me to stand in the midst of a crowded bookstore and read aloud from a volume containing my name in jet black ink. My hands sometimes shake when I read my stories at launches, but I know now to keep my head up, my voice calm, and trust that each and every word has spilled into my notebook for a reason.

This is now my place to pull words from my pen, from my keyboard and etymological dictionaries, homework and quirky little phrasebooks, cracked old spines and overheard conversations, and throw them spiralling into the air.

I recall what my professor said in that first linguistics lecture: If you love words, you’re in the right place.

I do.

I am.

So are you.

Rijn Collins

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14 Comments

  1. Lisa said,

    Oh my Darling Love,

    I’m so thrilled to read…I can’t wait to learn more and more from you each day. You have delicious ink.

    Lisa xoxo

    • inkymouth said,

      What a lovely way to see this year to a close…fresh ink, and kisses from you. x

  2. Leith said,

    I just know this is the beginning of something quite special, and not before time.

    So glad you have started this first page and opened the book just a little for us to read my friend.
    So looking forward to more spilt ink!

    {The literary websters don’t know it yet but they are in for such a treat}.

    Type carefully, write wildly..
    – Leith

    • inkymouth said,

      If you hadn’t whispered in my ear about this, Leith, I’m not sure I would have turned the Big Mama Thornton off and put the whiskey down long enough to do it.

      OK, so I lied about no Big Mama – she’s belting it out as I type – but you were such an inspiration in getting this off the ground; thank you so much. Here’s to even inkier fingers in 2011!

  3. Michael said,

    This is one blog I have been looking forward to reading and now, with it here I can get giddy with excitement.

    For some reason, the title makes me think of a fruit that you use the juice to pen your words, some kind of plum maybe. An Ink plum (or blood plum if you so wish)

    • inkymouth said,

      Oh, it’d definitely be a plum – an ink plum sounds so delicious, I know I could spit out so many words with one. Thanks so much for your lovely message..there’ll always be a chair ready for you here!

  4. gretchen cello said,

    And so it begins 🙂 A new place to devour your delectable word servings… I will greedily gobble each one, and lick my fingers afterwards. x x

    • inkymouth said,

      It’s begun, yes – and I’m thoroughly enoying it! Thanks for your supportive poking with a very gentle stick, my girl x

  5. Adrian said,

    The site looks great, as does that amazing photo

    I look forward to basking in the warmth of your bloginess

    • inkymouth said,

      That photo still makes me smile so much…what a lovely afternoon, hey? Here’s to more champagne, collaborations and yes, much more Elvis!

  6. Rebecca said,

    Yay! Love it Gerald. Well done xx

    • inkymouth said,

      Bood, I’m so happy to have you along for the ride…will try and throw in some fraggles, squashed tomatoes and salty air, just for you! x

  7. Erica said,

    I am so fucking excited that you have a blog. I can barely stand it! ❤

  8. Hilde said,

    Yay and yay! I’m so excited about your blog!

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