Monday, January 31, 2011


Speak With Conviction
Def Jam Poem by Taylor Mali

“In case you hadn’t realized, it has somehow become uncool to sound like you know what you’re talking about . . . or believe strongly in what you’re, like, saying. Invisible question marks and parenthetical ya-knows and you-know-what-I’m-sayings have been attaching themselves to the ends of our sentences, even when those sentences aren’t, like, questions?

“Declarative sentences, so-called because they used to, like, ya know, declare things to be true? OK? as opposed to other things that are totally, like, ya know, not? They’ve been infected by this tragically cool and totally hip interrogative tone? As if I’m saying, don’t think I’m a nerd just cuz I’ve, like, noticed this OK? I have nothing personal invested in my own opinions . . . I’m just like inviting you to join me on the bandwagon of my own uncertainty?

“What has happened to our conviction? Where are the limbs out on which we once walked? Have they been chopped down with the rest of the rain forest? Ya know? Or do we have like nuthin’ to say? Has society just become so filled with these conflicting feelings of neeeyeaauh, that we’ve just gotten to the point where we’re the most aggressively inarticulate generation to come along since, ya know, a long time ago?

“So I implore you, I entreat you, and I challenge you to speak with conviction, to say what you believe in a manner that bespeaks the determination with which you believe it. Because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker, it is not enough these days to simply ‘Question Authority.’ You’ve got to speak with it, too.”

—Taylor Mali, poet, “Speak With Conviction,” Def Jam Season 2, 2007
Typographic adaptation by Ronnie Bruce

Editorial Comment: Neeeyeaauh. ya know?

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