29 October 2010

Never as good in a second language

Here are the first lines of the poem "Kitchen Polish" by John Guzlowski:

I can't tell you about Kant
in Polish, or the Reformation,
or deconstruction
or why the Nazis moved east
before moving west,
or where I came from,
but I can count to ten, say hello
and goodbye, ask for coffee,
bread or soup.
The lines capture the difficulty of writing in a second language.  It is very difficult, if not impossible, to discuss really important things in a language other than your mother tongue.  This poem shows it, instead of just telling it.

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