Category Archives: Poetry

Seamus Heaney on Dictionaries

In the summer of 2012 Seamus Heaney wrote to me on some questions I had sent him about dictionaries and words and etymologies. Bits of what he had to say made it into a couple of talks I did around that time, but I recently rediscovered the original text, and thought it should see the […]

And we have Coverage!

Here’s the cover of my new book, out in April/May from OUP: Image credit: “Iskandar and the Talking Tree”, from Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh (977-1010 CE), Bodleian MS. Ouseley Add.176, fol. 311v.  

The Life of Words Anthology 2018

Every year we run a poetry competition, funded by the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation and the English Department of St Jerome’s University. We invite submissions from all Ontario high school students, on a topic to do with language or linguistics. This year we received over 200 poems from all over the province. We […]

Paul Muldoon’s Soundprint

Paul Muldoon’s virtuosity with rhyme is often commented upon by critics (“virtuosity” is a frequent epithet where his rhymes are concerned, as are “bravura”, and “high-wire act”). One grand old man once wittily remarked that Muldoon could rhyme “cat” and “dog”, which is nice because while on the surface it suggests some kind of magical […]

Poetry Competition 2018

April is coming! And that means poetry is on the way… Now in its third year, The Life of Words hosts an annual poetry competition, open to all high school students in Ontario. Last year’s theme was “write a poem about language.” This year we’re narrowing things down a bit (but not too much), to […]

“Juvescence” and other poetical “Errors”

This morning on the Twitter came this from @nemoloris: OED says “juvescence” is “irregular”, not “erroneous”, but (notorious TSE fan) Robert Burchfield himself called it a malformation (in his Eliot memorial lectures, I believe). Eliot’s defensive letter, sourced by @rngould, is worth keeping in mind: irregular needn’t be erroneous, and sometimes poets are looking to […]

Three conferences this summer

After a baby-related travelling hiatus of a couple three years, TLOW is hitting the road this summer, with stops at Ryerson University in Toronto (just barely down the road, really) at the end of May, for the Canadian Society for Digital Humanities meeting at CFHSS Congress; then off to Barbados and the University of the […]

One last round with metadata from Hathi and Underwood

In “Hathi’s Automatic Genre Classifier” and “Hathi Genre Again – Zero Recall“, I ran a couple of experiments comparing genre categories assigned by human taggers working on the Life of Words OED mark-up project to two sources of genre metadata associated with the HathiTrust Digital Library. The first post looked at data from the automatic […]

Poetry Competition Time

As part of our OMRI funding, LOW runs an annual poetry competition, open to all high school students in Ontario. Last year’s pilot run had a few dozen submissions, from which we picked one winner, two runners up, and twelve honorable mentions, all collected in our 2016 Anthology. Last year’s theme was “write a poem […]

OED Subject Matter

In my last post I described using HathiTrust’s Solr Proxy API to fetch Hathi genre metadata for OED quotations. But genre is not the only metadata that Hathi sends back down the intertubes when I ask it a question. For most works, I also get a Library of Congress Classification code for the volume. This […]