‘Rotten English’ is the phrase used by Ken Saro-Wiwa to describe the language used in his novel Sozaboy. It is a language that focuses on the voice as spoken. Today still, whether writing in Nigeria or Scotland or as a Dominican immigrant in New Jersey or a schoolgirl in Trinidad, the imposed ‘Standard English’ is the ‘language of literature’, the language of books, the language of podcast descriptions.
The podcast uses this term because Rotten English can describe any writing that is in direct opposition to institutions that impose a social value on the languages we use. Whether that’s the ‘all livin language is sacred fuck thi lohta thim’ of Glasgow born Tom Leonard or the ‘Sah, gimme a wuk nah. Ah lookin ole but ah strong’ of Trinidad born Paul Keens-Douglas, writers who challenge the language of the state and its institutions to create something that can be beautiful, funny and powerful.
Each month what we’ll do is look at a different writer, discuss their work and read some of their work. We’ll then talk about where we see the influence if this writer on other writers or in other work. It’s a really informal format and basically just me and my friend Peter chatting about the writing we love but hopefully it’ll be of interest to some people.
The focus won’t always be language, it’ll probably come up a lot but the focus will be on the writers and their writing.
Allan Wilson and Peter McNally: discussing writers and writing Rotten English Podcast 3 – Agnes Owens
In this episode Rotten English discusses the language and work of novelist Andrew O’Hagan. Peter and Allan look at aspects of style as well as content in Andrew O’Hagan’s first two novels. This is followed by a discussion of his non-fiction work. (Includes a few expletives)
Allan Wilson and Peter McNally discussing the poems and influence of Glasgow born poet Tom Leonard. We read a selection of Tom’s poems and explain why we like each one