Spanglish is not random. It is not simply a piecemeal cobbling-together, a collecting of scraps of random vocabulary into a raggedy orphan of a sentence. It has logic and rules, and more interestingly and importantly, it embodies a constantly shifting and intimate morphology of miscegenation.
While her academic peers chatted on the other side of the building, Howley took a seat on a bench in a different conference room and bore witness to her first cage fights. Before her, on an octagonal platform lit by a lofted spotlight and enclosed by a six-foot-tall chain link fence, two men “tore at one another with kicks and strikes, knees and elbows,” crumpling cartilage and cracking bones. Howley found herself genuinely mesmerized—instead of looking away or covering her eyes, she leaned in.
After talking about the urgency of the land loss issue, the merits of the suit and the public support for it, I asked him about the criticism that he and the levee authority had operated in secret rather than holding public hearings or consulting other state levee boards or lawmakers. Barry said it was strategic; the influence of industry in the legislature is too strong.
More definitively, though, we see “South,” and we think “slavery.” I know because I’m a poet, and the poet in this South must say what historians and politicians and journalists and scientists neglect to say. Let me go further.
She tries a few more no-but-where-are-you-REALLY-froms, then asks, “What’s your cultural heritage?” “Bangladeshi,” I say, relieved. She chortles, as though we have been playing a game of charades and she has just correctly interpreted my gestures. She exclaims: “I knew you were Middle Eastern!”