Wednesday, 20 April 2016

I've lost my Southland 'r' (poem)

Orepuki, looking towards the Longwoods

I've lost my Southland 'r'

I've lost my Southland 'r'.
I was forced to.
Teacher training back in the early seventies
believed the rolling 'r' to be rather gauche
and demanded that vowels be rounded
and any consonants 
unsaddled by irksome burrs, 
be reigned in.
None of this dwelling upon the end of 'river'
or the middle of 'early'.
You 'what' your clothes?
No, no, no. You don't 
I.Rrrin your clothes, 
you 'ion' your clothes.
I miss my Southland twang.
Whenever I hear someone
with a Southland 'r',
I want to tell them that once upon a time
I used to have one
just like it.

Kay McKenzie Cooke

Dear Reader,

It's late.  But a poem came to me as I was listening to readers at tonight's (which has become, since it's now after midnight, last night's) poetry reading at Dog With Two Tails cafe. 

When I noticed that one of the Open Mic'ers had a Southland twang, the plaintive line, 'Ive lost my Southland 'r'' suddenly flashed into the poetry-connective-tissue region of my brain. 

I quickly typed the line into the Notes App on my phone so that I could get back to it and write the poem that surrounded that tiny nub of regret of no longer having a Southland accent.



1 comment:

Avus said...

The general "UnZud" accent is quite distinct from the Australian twang. I thought that Anthony Hopkins caught that Southland "r" in "The World's Fastest Indian".

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