JANUARY 12 2021 – “WHO’S AFRAID OF NOAM CHOMSKY?”

Henrik Eger, 1941–2021

 Christopher Munden January 11, 2021

Henrik and Niko
Henrik in 2019 with his cocker spaniel Niko.

Phindie is mourning. The performing arts lost a vocal supporter and the world lost a vibrant presence last weekend. Editor-at-Large Henrik Eger died on Sunday, January 3, 2021, after being admitted to hospital for a heart condition several days earlier. He was 79.

Henrik was born in German-occupied Paris during World War II. His father, a journalist, served as a propaganda officer in occupied France before being sent to the Eastern Front, where he was killed. Henrik was raised by his widowed mother in Bavaria and then Wuppertal in West Germany. Encouraged by a British soldier, Henrik learned English and moved to England in the early 1960s.

Henrik age 3 with his mother.

Friends of Henrik in his later life would frequently hear stories detailing his early years. His father’s membership in the Nazi Party inspired a lifelong interest in Jewish literature and theater and a commitment to human rights, pacifism, and anti-fascist politics. His uncle helped him obtain his first job, as a book store apprentice, a position that solidified his love of writing and literature. His experience as a young homosexual in conservative postwar Germany was formative, as was a longtime relationship with an aristocratic English partner.

He spent much of his life in academia, earning bachelor degrees in England and Germany, three master’s degrees, and a Ph.D. at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1991 for the thesis Writer Perception, Writer Projection: The Influence of Personality, Ideology, and Gender on Letters of Recommendation. He wrote numerous articles, chapters, and textbooks, and taught English, writing, and ESL in six countries—Germany, England, India, Sri Lanka, USA, and Iran—amassing several lifetimes’ worth of experiences and stories along the way.https://googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/ads?guci=1.2.0.0.2.2.0.0&client=ca-pub-8425080136381200&output=html&h=280&adk=2486779300&adf=3654907603&pi=t.aa~a.1381849204~i.11~rp.4&w=819&fwrn=4&fwrnh=100&lmt=1610448282&num_ads=1&rafmt=1&armr=3&sem=mc&pwprc=4215688120&psa=1&ad_type=text_image&format=819×280&url=http%3A%2F%2Fphindie.com%2F22113-henrik-eger-1941-2021%2F&flash=0&fwr=0&pra=3&rh=200&rw=819&rpe=1&resp_fmts=3&wgl=1&fa=27&adsid=ChAIgK71_wUQ6IWZwuXf7sAlEjsApDDKKC5td568lYZTdI46QtAPw6ItclhWxPb_ZGAir0oftVXbWzKDB7KdelqhtuJG9SaH5DA909jgbw&dt=1610448282553&bpp=2&bdt=791&idt=-M&shv=r20201203&cbv=r20190131&ptt=9&saldr=aa&abxe=1&cookie=ID%3D65748d2108ec663c-2214a11e9ea600c8%3AT%3D1610448003%3ART%3D1610448003%3AS%3DALNI_MaDhxO67sPx2t1xWrp_TCHj2k_jYQ&prev_fmts=300×250%2C311x250%2C0x0&nras=2&correlator=292913042917&frm=20&pv=1&ga_vid=1451931148.1610448004&ga_sid=1610448282&ga_hid=1419475960&ga_fc=0&u_tz=0&u_his=7&u_java=0&u_h=1080&u_w=1920&u_ah=1040&u_aw=1920&u_cd=24&u_nplug=3&u_nmime=4&adx=369&ady=1581&biw=1907&bih=920&scr_x=0&scr_y=0&eid=21068084%2C21068769%2C21068985%2C21069710&oid=3&pvsid=390321881713684&pem=188&rx=0&eae=0&fc=384&brdim=-44%2C18%2C-44%2C18%2C1920%2C0%2C1940%2C1008%2C1924%2C920&vis=1&rsz=%7C%7Cs%7C&abl=NS&fu=8320&bc=23&jar=2021-01-10-11&ifi=3&uci=a!3&btvi=2&fsb=1&xpc=1UjaSx16Jn&p=http%3A//phindie.com&dtd=18

Among these, he was proud to have worked as a German translator for Martin Luther King, Jr., in the mid-1960s, he corresponded with Noam Chomsky in the late 1970s as he edited a book of linguistic poetry dedicated to the famous professor, and he was teaching in Tehran during the Iranian Revolution.

He moved to the Philadelphia area in 1992 and worked until retirement as a professor of English and Communication at Delaware County Community College in Media. A lifelong lover of creative arts, he became an enthusiastic booster for local theater. He gave speeches and workshops at the Media Theatre and Hedgerow Theatre, served on the board of Theatre Ariel (Philadelphia’s Jewish theater company), was active for many years with the Alliance for Jewish Theatre, spent five years as a judge for the Barrymore Awards, and wrote reviews and features for such publications as the ArmenianBroad Street ReviewBroadway StarsBroadway WorldClassical VoiceDance JournalDCMetroTheaterArtsThe ForwardJewish VoiceJewish Post & OpinionPhiladelphia Gay News, New Jersey StageTalkin’ Broadway, and Windy City Times.

Henrik Eger
Henrik Eger in front of a poster from a performance of his play METRONOME TICKING in Hamburg, Germany, held to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht on November 9, 2008.

After retirement, he focused on his own creative writing, which he published along with academic and popular articles on his website Drama Around the Globe. His most successful playMetronome Ticking, juxtaposed extracts from his father’s wartime diary and correspondence with contemporary remembrances by a Jewish Austrian Holocaust survivor. Premiered in 2006, it was performed in the United States and Germany, most recently in 2015.

Henrik lived in an elaborately and idiosyncratically furnished house in Upper Darby, where he was a frequent host to writers, actors, creatives, and a cast of international friends, and where he celebrated a joyful annual “Victorian Holiday” party. He will be warmly remembered for his sincerely welcoming greetings, his supportive and attentive generosity, his intelligence and insight, his unignorable cheerful presence, and his gentle, loving spirit. Over 400 people left testimonials to his life on his frequently updated Facebook page, including former students, members of the Philadelphia theater community, and people who had only casual encounters with the remarkable, singular gentleman.https://googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/ads?guci=1.2.0.0.2.2.0.0&client=ca-pub-8425080136381200&output=html&h=280&adk=2486779300&adf=3846659668&pi=t.aa~a.1381849204~i.21~rp.4&w=819&fwrn=4&fwrnh=100&lmt=1610448282&num_ads=1&rafmt=1&armr=3&sem=mc&pwprc=4215688120&psa=1&ad_type=text_image&format=819×280&url=http%3A%2F%2Fphindie.com%2F22113-henrik-eger-1941-2021%2F&flash=0&fwr=0&pra=3&rh=200&rw=819&rpe=1&resp_fmts=3&wgl=1&fa=27&adsid=ChAIgK71_wUQ6IWZwuXf7sAlEjsApDDKKC5td568lYZTdI46QtAPw6ItclhWxPb_ZGAir0oftVXbWzKDB7KdelqhtuJG9SaH5DA909jgbw&dt=1610448282553&bpp=1&bdt=791&idt=1&shv=r20201203&cbv=r20190131&ptt=9&saldr=aa&abxe=1&cookie=ID%3D65748d2108ec663c-2214a11e9ea600c8%3AT%3D1610448003%3ART%3D1610448003%3AS%3DALNI_MaDhxO67sPx2t1xWrp_TCHj2k_jYQ&prev_fmts=300×250%2C311x250%2C0x0%2C819x280&nras=3&correlator=292913042917&frm=20&pv=1&ga_vid=1451931148.1610448004&ga_sid=1610448282&ga_hid=1419475960&ga_fc=0&u_tz=0&u_his=7&u_java=0&u_h=1080&u_w=1920&u_ah=1040&u_aw=1920&u_cd=24&u_nplug=3&u_nmime=4&adx=369&ady=3115&biw=1907&bih=920&scr_x=0&scr_y=0&eid=21068084%2C21068769%2C21068985%2C21069710&oid=3&pvsid=390321881713684&pem=188&rx=0&eae=0&fc=384&brdim=-44%2C18%2C-44%2C18%2C1920%2C0%2C1940%2C1008%2C1924%2C920&vis=1&rsz=%7C%7Cs%7C&abl=NS&fu=8320&bc=23&jar=2021-01-10-11&ifi=4&uci=a!4&btvi=3&fsb=1&xpc=92VpqAcU5D&p=http%3A//phindie.com&dtd=21

Henrik began writing for Phindie in 2012 and contributed over 160 articles. His final piece was published the day he went to the hospital for emergency aortic dissection repair. He never recovered from the operation.

He was predeceased by his mother and younger sister, but is survived by a niece and cousins in Germany and by scores of admiring friends across the globe. His adored dog, Niko, has been rehoused with a loving family. Henrik will be much missed.

A virtual memorial service is planned for Sunday, January 17, at 5 p.m. Contact chris@phindie.com for more information and sign up here to attend: lehigh.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_QOK-w6P1Sl-2-eOGd29vkA

One Reply to “Henrik Eger, 1941–2021”
  1. Avatar Christine Schmidt says:I feel very sad losing Henrik . He was a good and gentle friend and a valuable and respected associate on all my Human Rights Facebook pages and in my Facebook groups .His interesting comments and posts educated and informed over 60,000 friends on my pages from all over the world on 7 continents over a period of many years . He warned us so often of the immediate danger that Trump posed to our country and to our democracy . I feel happy that he lived to see trump defeated in the election .Only three days after he left us , we miss what would have been his insightful analysis of the recent “coup” on January 6 and the following daily events occurring now.A life well lived and generously shared with others .. Respect and Gratitude to our friend , Henrik Eger .

Who is Afraid of Noam Chomsky? Linguistic Poetry. Edited by Henrik Eger, with a letter from Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky letting doves fly. Photo by Tracy Nearmy, AAPA collection of linguistic poems by students of linguistics in the M.A. Applied Linguistics program at Essex University with reactions by professors Noam Chomsky and Sam Spicer. Colchester, Essex, UK, 1977. 32 pages. 

Noam Chomsky is probably one of the most talked about and cited professors in the world. He doesn’t shy away from major controversies. Click here for more informationLetter to and from Noam ChomskyDepartment of Language and Linguistics
University of Essex, Colchester, England

22.4.1977

Dear Professor Chomsky, 

Please find enclosed twenty six poems for a little booklet which I’m editing as a sort of farewell present to our department (M.A. Applied Linguistics.) As you are the most admired, most feared (by some) and certainly the most talked about and most influential person in linguistics—​please forgive all these dreadful superlatives—​I thought to call the collection: 

WHO IS AFRAID OF NOAM CHOMSKY?

It would be marvelous to have some comments of yours, which then could be integrated into the whole venture. Perhaps you would like to decorate the CHOMSKY OMELETTE, or explain the apparent sexism in some of your examples (most activities seem to be carried out by “John” or other males, as satirized in HEY CHOMSKY). 

Maybe it’s naive, but someone who admires your integrity greatly, can’t really bridge the gap between your politically engaged works and the purely theoretical linguistic ones, hence the desperate attempt to get an answer in CHOMSKY IS DEAD, LONG LIVE ADORNO! 

Maybe it’s all a misunderstanding; maybe the collection should be called WITH APOLOGIES TO NC (see: “An aspect”). 

Soon we’ll go into our finals; should you find the time to write a few comments it could be like champagne . . . 

Many thanks. 

Sincerely, 
Henrik Eger


LEFT: Title page of Who is Afraid of Noam Chomsky?: Poems by Students of Linguistics.
COVER DESIGN adapted by John Ross
from drawings by Véronique Filosov.
CENTER: 
What Kind of Creatures Are We?
RIGHT: Cover page of the book signed by Chomsky, MIT, to Steve, which I found in a bookstore in Ireland via the internet. I still have Chomsky’s original letter.

Letter from Noam Chomsky

​20C-128, MIT, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA

May 9, 1977

Dear Mr. Eger, 

Thanks for sending me the poems, which I enjoyed. A suitable comment would have to be in verse— beyond my capacities. 

Incidentally, more seriously, why do you assume that it is necessary to “bridge the gap”  between politically engaged work and purely theoretical work—and why is it a question of  “integrity”? I have often wondered why people feel that there must be a “unity” and have occasionally on the matter, e.g., in the memorial lectures that I gave at Cambridge for Russell some years ago. 

Sincerely, 
Noam ChomskyProfessor Noam Chomsky in his office around 40 years ago, at the time we corresponded

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Letter to Noam Chomsky   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Reply from Noam Chomsky . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

Steve Andrews, The Lament of the Impotent Linguist  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Anon., Competence and Performance   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

Ray Burridge, Greeted and Defeated?  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Ray Burridge, A Bard Transformation, or: Chomsky Omelette  . . . . . . . . . 4
Ray Burridge, Ad Infinitum  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Chris Bury, An Aspect . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

Geoff Chadwick, Anacoluthon  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

Keith Downer, A Lack of Language Facility . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

Henrik Eger, Hey Chomsky . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Henrik Eger, Chomsky is Dead, Long Live Adorno . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Henrik Eger, Twice my Eyes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
Henrik Eger, Language of Knitting Patterns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

Junji Ishii, A Tanka . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

Beverly Kirkland, Stone Soup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Beverly Kirkland, Soho  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15

Michael Lyons, The Have and the Have Nots  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16

John Newsome, Eger-Trip   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
John Newsome, Wocheninsel der Schöpfung . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
John Newsome, Creation Island   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

Armando Palmer, A Change is as good as a Halliday  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20

Galal Salamah, Essex-X  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Austin Sanders, So you fell for someone else  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Austin Sanders, Notes  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23

Ai Hua Tan, Deep Structures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
Ai Hua Tan, Games  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
Ai Hua Tan, Learning how to Mean and Do . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Ai Hua Tan/Henrik Eger, Neon Lights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Collin Townley, A Mother’s Prayer  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28

Rosemarie Wildsmith, Subjugation  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Fred L. Woodworth, Nowt   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
Fred L. Woodworth, The Last Word  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31

Samuel Johnson, I Name No Names (adapted by Henrik Eger) . . . . . . . . 32Noam Chomsky in front of a blackboard. Photo by Rich Beauchesne, APNoam Chomsky signature
CHOMSKY IS DEAD,
LONG LIVE ADORNO!*


The writing on linguistic walls,
an undergraduated overstatement,
or a desperate plea for more,
much more engagement?

Henrik Eger

*CONFESSION, December 30, 2018: 

Dear Prof. Chomsky,

​All I knew of you during those pre-internet days was your amazing work on linguistics, without knowing anything about your political and social engagement.

As a result, I felt a bit disappointed that the scientist whom I looked up to, and who, at the same time, scared me with his enormous knowledge, did not seem to engage with social issues.

That’s why I satirized you in one of my own poems—“Chomsky Is Dead, Long Live Adorno!”

How wrong I was. As it turned out, you already were one of the world’s most engaged scientists and a role model for millions.

​Maybe I should write a new poem for you: “Adorno is dead. Long live Chomsky!” 
A BARD TRANSFORMATION, or: CHOMSKY OMELETTETG or not TG?—that is the question.
Whether ‘tis bedded in the mind and offers
Its trees and transformations in speech production, 
And so sets nodes against Skinnerian operants
And by opposing ends them? Delete; embed; 
No rats; and by phrase structures so to end
Responses and the thousand verbal chains
That Skinner forged; ay, ‘tis a transformation
Devoutly to be wished. Chomsky; and Katz; 
No rats; perchance an ‘eme’: ay, there’s the rub;
For to that wealth of terms what ‘emes’ may come
When we have ended all our Ph.D.s . . . 
(And driven countless chimps up Chomskyan trees!)

Ray BurridgeHEY CHOMSKY *Hey Chomsky, 
God Almighty of my grammar hell
On earth

Why did You
Make poor John kick bloody balls
For good, for bad?

No doubt
You know it hurts, and worse, 
It’s sexist!

Hey Chomsky, 
Lord of tree creation: why are
Your aspects

Mainly male?
(I would not beef if there were 
Fun or justice 

But as it stands, or falls,
This game of Yours is neither 
Either, is it?)

Hey Chomsky,
Perfection which I’ll never grasp, 
Have mercy: 

Don’t overestimate
The competence of John the bugger; 
Let alone his performance! 

Release him, if you can, 
From his task of hitting, endlessly, 
Equality.

AMEN. 
Or would You prefer: TGG RULES OK?
Noam, think twice!

​Henrik Eger

* Chomsky occasionally used examples like “John kissed Mary.
Mary was kissed by John.” As a result, males tend to appear as active participants in life, while females tend to get portrayed as passive receivers, however unintentional—​hence this satire.
THE LAMENT OF THE IMPOTENT LINGUIST
OR: A NODE BY ANY OTHER NAME

She told him his performance
Left much to be desired
Extremely short on competence
Drab and uninspired

Flip-flop transformation
Applying far too early
Fuelled her frustration
And left him feeling surly

“I’ve problems with my copula
Embedding is no fun
With clause-mates I’m unpopular
My do-support’s undone

My whiz has been deleted
It really is a bore
I get all overheated and
Then my affix hops no more

I know it is a frightful shame
For things to end this way
But in passion’s generation game
Raising rules OK!” 

Steve Andrews

AD INFINITUM

The concept
That the book
That the linguist
That the linguist
That the linguist
That the linguist
Taught
Tutored
Trained
Wrote
Contained

​Ray Burridge

A LACK OF LANGUAGE FACILITY

A lack of language facility
can be easily misinterpreted in a second language creative writing class

an example of poetic ability.

Keith Downer

TWICE MY EYES

Twice my eyes
behaved like
broken opera-glasses:
                           l o     s e    and ouT oF fOcUs
                                 o
Twice I have felt
fear,
floating through
my brain.

Now I’ve gained
control again,
I can see
the singing,
though with
trembling
caution
only ————————————–

Henrik Eger

A TANKA

Be-hold the un-lived
field a-round with sum-mer grass
tall and wild! Is this
the site am-bitious sol-diers (samurai)
used to cher-ish emp-ty dreams?

Junji Ishii

STONE SOUP

The problem, you see,
is not where the philosopher’s stone is to be found.
Rather than scarcity, there’s a gluttony of stones around. 
But taste them, and you’ll agree,
they’re better left on the ground.

Unless you can cook–
now this transformational-generative rock
needs salt and greens to make a delicious stock–
I’m afraid the recipes not in the book,
but throw out the stones before you drink the broth!

Beverly Kirkland

THE HAVE AND THE HAVE NOTS

Oh how nice it must be
to have meaningful, intelligent things to say–
and be able to say them eloquently.

Oh how truly sad it must be
to have meaningful, intelligent things to say–
and know you won’t be able to express them adequately.

But oh how equally sad it is,
to have unintelligent, meaningless things to say–
and still to insist on saying them.

And finally

Oh how painful it is to realize
that membership in the first category is never to be yours —
The urge to join the third becomes almost irresistible. 

​Michael Lyons

CREATION ISLAND

In the middle of the year long sea
of indifference,
a weekend island
of creation:
 
Liberation of the sexes,
creative singing.
 
What is left?
 
Typed pages?
Out of tune strings?
Flickering video-pictures?
Drooping thoughts?
Creative forgetfulness?
 
Could there be lying somewhere
in the desert of my language
seeds
w   a   i
                t
                     i
                          n
                               g
to be watered?

John Newhouse

A CHANGE IS AS GOOD AS A HALLIDAY

For hours on end last night I tried
Linguistic clutter form to give.
Try as I would, the intellectual sludge
Nary an inch did move, methinks it had a grudge.
I then to Katz and Fodor wrote for help
From their semantic theory
And Katz to Fodor turned and said:
“Post-al your information to that loon.
Let him, like us reach for the moon
Amid the verbal maze.”
Now if you really want him mad to see
Tell him to read old man Chomsky,
After he’s hopped from affix to NP
And bashed his head against raised object/subject,
Or on tree structures traced a node
Only to find that it has changed abode,
Is on Der-wing or gone on Halliday
Due to T-rule permission,
He will, no doubt, just as we did,
Huddle-a-stone, tear out his hair
And wish on him perdition.

​Armando Palmer

SO YOU FELL FOR SOMEONE ELSEYour parents did the decent thing and shared your kit out. No waste there.But all the same I really was (for most of a week-end) cut upTo hear you’d got the chop. Off the very last overhang, too.You’ll not run down the screes again talking of real aleAnd the routes to do tomorrow, rain or fine.Your first lead last year with meYou climbed quite clean.But you never really took to my middle-aged viewThat a good dose of frightIs the best prophylactic,For the only lessonsThat teachAre the onesYou survive.Still, you did the best part of the climb.It’s so easy it’s boringFrom there to the top:From twenty-twoTo forty.
Austin SandersDangerous climb. Photo by BigUpClimbing/instagramDEEP STRUCTURE

Walls
            break down,
                       gently, softly,
When you allow me
                               to be myself
And not a grammar,
                to fit your taste, whim,
                                   dream and desire,
And when I allow me
                              to be myself
                                     and you to be you.
And so
             we meet half-way,
                                    at levels,
                                         pursuing recursive rules
that with every transformation,
                           we go further
                                     from what 
                                            is structural
                                                to what is
                                                      innate.

​Ai Hua Tan

LEARNING HOW TO MEAN AND DO

Say what I mean?
You mean do what I say.
Or does “can mean” equals “can do” ?
But how can I mean
            what I dare not do?
I may offend what you do not mean.
 
It’s a puzzling world indeed,
     when what I do is not
                what you mean
and what I mean is not
                what you do.

​Ai Hua TanPablo Picasso, Nude Woman in a Red Armchair, 1932. Tate Gallery, London.SUBJUGATION

My forest
bent,
spent
the breeze,
last sighs 
                   in waves
                                    of wonder

before
the crack
of riding thunder
is clasping all my trees,
my earth

in its iron
hard
authority.

Rosemarie Wildsmith

THE LAST WORD

Often times
My mind
Will think in rhymes
Of many kinds.
But now I’m 
Pressed so hard to find
A final line

To end

Fred L. Woodworth
Dr. Samuel Johnson by Joshua Reynolds (detail, 1756-57),
National Portrait Gallery, London.
COMPETENCE AND PERFORMANCE

The centipede was happy quite
until the frog, in fun, said
“Pray, 
              which leg goes after which?”

which worked his mind to such a pitch
he lay distracted in the ditch
considering how to run.

ANON. [YMOUS writer of the M.A. Applied Linguistics group]

GREETED OR DEFEATED ?
(FIRST AND LAST WORDS OF Y, AN M.A. APPLIED LING. STUDENT)


How ? 
How do ? 
How do you ? 
How do you do ? 
How do you do it ? 

Ray Burridge

AN ASPECT

​sincerity may virtue the boy
sincerity may elapse the boy
sincerity may admire the boy

why can’t I be free like
sincerity

Chris Bury
With apologies to no, 1965: 152

ANACOLUTHON

In the Chinese town of Neo-TG
By the Great Allomorph
Lived a little Affix-Hopper
By the name of Anacoluthon.
Every day his permutations
Reduced him to a finite state.
So for fortune did he travel
To the land of U C L A 
Where with the clause-mates ‘neath PS trees
Gained the title “Whiz-deletion”
Famous for his terminal node
And external adequacy.

CHORUS:

For he’s a jolly transformational
And so say Katz-Postal
Et al, et al, et al.

Pirots Karulize elatically

Geoff Chadwick
(Apologies to Longfellow)LANGUAGE OF KNITTING PATTERNS

Although        only            the 
                   she          spoke        language
———        —-             —
                  —           —–         ——–
of                 patterns,         made
     knitting                  she 
—                 ———         —-
    ——–                    —
for         feelings     warmth       gentle
      such               of               and
—        ——–     ——          —— 
      —-               —                —
protection         her                   friends
                    that        customer
———-         —                   ——-
                    —-          ——–
came           for           of        gossip
           back       more      her
—-            —           —         ——
           —-         —-       —
and            whenever
        yarn,                    goose-pimpels
—              ——–
       —–                      ————-
inhibited          language         from  
                 their                  skin           using
———         ——–           —-
                 —–                 —-            —–
more                         forms      communication
          conventional            of
 —-                          —–        ————-
           ————            —

Henrik Eger

SOHO

Crowded in rooms above restaurants
in private booths
with side panels
recording obscentities
on worn out tapes
not competent
to perform.

Beverly Kirkland

EGER-TRIP

Henrik
Henriked
Henrikuously.

John NewhouseWOCHENINSEL DER SCHÖPFUNG

Mitten im Jahresmeer
der Gleichgültigkeit
eine Wocheninsel
der Schöpfung:
 
Befreiung der Geschlechter,
kreatives Singen.
 
Was bleibt übrig?
 
Getippte Seiten?
Verstimmte Saiten?
Flimmernde Videobilder?
Verwelkende Gedanken?
Kreative Vergeßlichkeit?
 
Liegen irgendwo noch
in der Dürre meiner Sprache
Samen,
auf Bewässerung
w   a   r   t
                        e
                            n
                              d
                                  ?

​John Newhouse

ESSEX-X

Essex, Essex:
Essays, essays,
Essays …
 
Nymphs and lilies
Everywhere, but
You get tired
 
Of the show:
Order, discipline
And knowledge
 
Are required:
So, work hard,
Work harder!
 
The course is
Short, but long
Your Essex – X.

Galal Salamah

SO YOU FELL . . . NOTES

The poem is in remembrance of D.L., a friend, who was killed in a climbing accident in August 1976. The fall in the title was fatal.Line one:                                                                                                          
There are many authenticated cases where on the day that a climber has fallen and killed himself, a succession of his friends have called upon the bereaved parents. In place of the expected condolences they have mentioned in pointed fashion that they take the same size in boots or other expensive and now presumably unwanted equipment. It does seem a pity to throw away good kit but nowadays the more enlightened parents have a share-out, thus avoiding both waste and disappointment. 

Line two: 
the week-end was a climbing one when it rained continually and I received the news of the death. Had the weather been fine the impact would have been less, and shorter lived. 

Line three: 
“to get the chop” is climbers’ idiom, meaning to fall off something and kill oneself. One could perhaps draw certain conclusions about fatalism and even indifference from the impersonal nature of the expression.
​The overhang which is referred to and reflected visually in the layout of the poem was that last of several that had to be climbed in doing the route on which the climber has his accident. It is ironic that he fell from the last overhang when he had already surmounted the major difficulties of the climb. 

Line four:
a totally atypical note of sentimental melancholy enters here and in the next line. This was probably the result of a slight biliousness resulting from the previous night’s overindulgence in ale rather than a deeply felt sense of loss. 

Line six and seven:
to “lead” a climb is to go up first, thus taking the risks since the second man up is protected by the rope. “Clean” here means without difficulty, with good style. The climber in question had been delighted when, with me, he led a climb graded “Very Severe” for the first time. This is something of a milestone in any climber’s career.  

Line eight:
the climber, who has killed in perhaps his third year of climbing, considered me to be overcautious and unfond of risks. 

​Lines eleven to fourteen:
reflect my view, after twenty years climbing, that survival means more than machismo, to me anyway.

Lines fifteen to nineteen: 
compare the initial stages of the fatal climb to those of one’s early years.   
 
DL died at 22.

​Austin Sanders

GAMES

I play Chess
            while you play Dominoes
Yet in between,
            we forget what we play
                                        and with whom.
And 
         old rules become new rules, sub-rules
                                                 and no rules
And we are lost
                     in the games people play
at the Book-club, seminars, lectures, meetings,
                          parties and in between.
And then you ask me,
                                 what am I playing?
And I turn around and say,
        “I believe I was playing Chess
         but now, I don’t know what I am playing”,

because of the games
                                       people play.

Ai Hua Tan

NEON LIGHTS

He is like a lion in a city suit,
waiting in the jungle of emotions
for the office-girl, hiding, hi
ding, not knowing when and where
to spring, being blinded by the
neon lights of his cold passion.

Ai Hua Tan/Henrik Eger

A MOTHER’S PRAYER

Lord, in your infinity,
Guard my daughter’s chastity.
Please preserve her reputation
From all acts of conjugation.

                          Do ensure she doesn’t yield
                          In some dark semantic field.

Stay by her in weak moments
Watching o’er her base components.
Keep her grace, virginity,
Save her from polysemy.

                          Do guard her distinctive features
                          From all foreign language teachers.

Lord, I ask you, take good care
Of my child’s contrastive pair.
Keep her clean and pure in heart
When the object-raising starts.

                          Save her from the dreadful fate
                          That leads girls to a finite state.

Deliver her from all temptation.
Keep her safe from transformation.
Grant to her a strong aversion
To the notion of inversion.

                          Lord, I’m set on her white wedding,
                          So please ensure she’s self-embedding.

Guard her loop, prevent recursion,
Keep her free from there-insertion. 
Do-suppo/rt her with your vision.
Don’t teach her extraposition.

                         One more thing before I stop.
                         PLEASE don’t let her affix hop!

​Colin Townley

NOWT
To Ogden Nash

I’m no poet,
And well I know it;
Can’t think of Nowet
To say.

And as for whoet
I’ve just wroet–
              I’ll get Nowt foet
              S’not worth a groaet–
You might as well throw it
Away!

Fred L. Woodworth

I NAME NO NAMES*

​Dedicated to the other half
of the class—with love,
everlasting, everlasting . . . 

Sir,**

I have two cogent reasons
for not printing any list
of non-contributors***
—one, that I have lost
all the names
—the other, that I have
spent all the time.****

Dr. Samuel Johnson
May 1781

* Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
** Note by Dr. Samuel Johnson. In this context:
“SIR” is a general form of address.
*** originally: subscribers.
**** originally: money.

THE EDITOR
MAY 1977

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