use this word now.


You WILL use the following word in conversation: HAUSTED. ['hawsted]

What is hausted? Far be it from us at Invented Usage to define our terms. Allow us to teach language as we were taught it: by example.

"I'm so hausted after that great night of sleep I just had."
"It's imperative that you haust yourself, you have a big test tomorrow."
"I'm in a very hausty mood this morning."
"He was full of haust, and ate a hearty breakfast."
"Before this hike I was hausted, but now..."
"We must carefully haust our national resources."
"She had to be sedated due to extreme haustion."
"We sprung, haustedly, into action."

Unfortunately, we here at Invented Usage are EXHAUSTED, so we're going to bed. But use the word. Or suffer the dire consequences.

Haunt your local haunts with Haust Posters, coming soon.


Can Poetry Matter?

Recently, I've been picking through Dana Gioia's book Can Poetry Matter? which seems, thus far, to be a worthwile read if you have the time and interest. In the title essay, Gioia more or less comes down hard on contemporary poets for hiding in the academy. He laments the lost times of poetic bohemia when poets were out amongst the people.

Honestly, I have a little trouble buying this. Poets (writers in general, pretty much) have always been of the academy. Eliot, Creeley, Cummings, Ashbery et al. are Harvard chums (Creeley dropped out though.) Poets of the time period Gioia is dealing with, seem to me, to have always been a part of the academy.

It is true, though, that the Creative Writing boon has shaped the nature and practice of contemporary poetry. It could not have done otherwise. I'm less quick to indict this as a bad thing. If anything I see it as a chance to open up a populace to the idea of reading poetry. This is, of course, the central problem. Poetry just isn't vital to people. Who now can afford time to it? Can this ever change?

Lit mags though. He hits them pretty soundly. Currently, I'm editing the poetry section of Clerestory, which is Brown University literary magazine (more or less). I'm pretty daunted by the possibility of having to select undeserving poems for publication. The magazine simply demands a certain number of poems, which must be filled. There are, of course, several excellent even awesome submissions, but generally... Pretty weak.

Speaking of Clerestory and poems. This poem of mine appeared in the most recent edition:
Zapruder Film

Your death transpired
just as I had imagined it.

Except, of course,
for pink explosion.

That was a surprise.
Yep. And then this little gem (which I loved) from Brian Stefan (who is apparently a graduate student here).
Mail Art

an introduction
to language


you could say i'm trying
too hard
and be right
you could
fuck a horse


male art


shackleton, the explorer
died at forty-seven
in antarctica
while you read this


usage of the next week

Consider the sign posted next to the elevator in the science library:
Handicapped Restroom Located on Level B.

First of all, (to once again quote the Big Lebowski), dude, "Handicapped" is not the preferred nomenclature. It's "differently abled," please.

But really, is
Differently Abled Restroom Located on Level B.

any better?

Why is it we feel we can't address differently-abled people themselves on signage? We'd never see
Restroom for Differently Abled Students Located on Level B.

Maybe that's in poor taste.

So we go on, ignoring the fact that the restroom is handicapped on the sign. And we all understand it anyway.


Manatees of Approval

Cristi approves of Vogue. The magazine, not the Madonna song (although the first issue I read had Madonna on the cover). Vogue doesn’t just endorse spending a lot of money on clothes, it champions a whole lifestyle that acknowledges the need to create an identity. Why exclude clothing as an ‘external’ or ‘false’ representation of the personality rather than view it as an opportunity for creative self-expression? Aren’t we always re-presenting ourselves? Also, Vogue is the only thing that keeps me sane on airplanes.

Scott disapproves of poets who are down on our modern times. Let’s get with the program! Modern times are here to stay. There’s been a lot of discussion in my poetry related courses of the disappearance of a local identity. Maybe we’re getting a little more global, but maybe what we lose in a traditional sense of locality we make up for with our ability to create our own space out of the digital and technological access afforded us. Take this blog as case in point. Without global distribution, we would certainly have fewer than our current 20 or so dedicated readers.

Cristi disapproves of truth conditions. See all her previous posts. For real. Language and logic shouldn’t mix.

Scott and Cristi both approve of Spamalot and New York City. You would think that such a massive space would cause you to dilute over it and feel small and insignificant, but we found that to not be the case. Our need for familiarity and personal connections drove us to fondnesses for street corners and subway stations and to view the kindness of otherwise random faces as truly significant.
Also, there are Scientologists in the subway stations, masquerading as qualified testers of stress. So watch out, otherwise you’ll be eschewing psychology and reading L. Ron Hubbard Vociferously. (Scott approves of the ‘cif’ in vociferous.)
Also, Spamalot rocked our socks off. A rollicking romp of a good time, it earned every one of those Tony Awards by us.

Scott approves of George Oppen’s “Of Being Numerous”. Just checked out from the Rock, it is marvelous.

Cristi disapproves of departments renumbering all their courses, cutting their offerings, and only having the good ones as graduate seminars. This means you, MCM department.

Scott and Cristi approve of people who leave comments, even if we don’t agree with them ;).

Scott disapproves of Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper. Seriously, What were they thinking? But he vigorously approves of Charles in Charge. Honorable mention to Punky Brewster and the episode where her friend gets trapped in a refrigerator.

Cristi approves of wireless internet, her laptop, a nice cool breeze, and posting from the main green.


usage of the week

well, we're back from our fabulous new york weekend trip, and the big apple brought to our attention an invented usage!

at all the metro-card vending machines, when you opt to pay by debit card, a message appears on the screen:
Please dip ATM card.

What!? "dip"? we were shocked! crazy new yorkers, we muttered...

but it makes a lot of sense, if you think about it. after all, what is to "dip" but to put something into something else and then remove it quickly? what more convenient phrasing could the metropolitan transit authority have come up with? "please insert card, and remove it quickly"? "

also, any phrase of the form "please ____ ATM card" probably has a pretty obvious meaning... give them your money.

thank you, come again.


That's what i'm talkin' about!

In a certain informal speech style (the same one that uses 'like' frequently?), speakers often use tags like "you know" and "i mean," perhaps to check that the listener is following.

Consider Scott's recent observation: after any sentence, it is possible to meaningfully insert the phrase "you know what i'm trying to say." For example, "i think you're great. you know what i'm trying to say" or "the sky is blue... you know what i'm trying to say" or even "the taste of mango... you know what i'm trying to say?"

and this is the vagueness and power of language. we don't say things in the interest of logic or truth; we speak so that people will know what we're trying to say. each word or phrase is a stand-in for all the things we know we can never describe.

articulation is a personal favorite example. it is impossible to describe the condition of the tongue in real time, because as we speak, it moves, and we can never catch up with it. so we generalize to statements like: "every time i laugh, the base of my tongue hurts." here we've used language to simplify our experience into cause and effect (or at least correlated events) that recurr in patterns. if my statement isn't true EVERY time i laugh, or the pain is a little different each time, it's ok because you know basically what i'm trying to say.


well it's been... awhile.

So, it's been some time. Right now Cristi and I are back in Providence and in the midst of settling in and getting our rooms in order. There's been a lack of updating. This will change.

Stayed tuned. More updates to follow. Classes start next week!