Posts Tagged ‘Agustín Maes’

The most beautiful words in the English language. And the nominations are…

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

For Frank in Philly.

“I’ve always been fond of lavender,” said Frank Wilson of Books Inq.  That was his nomination for the most beautiful word in the English language.  (Earlier nominations here.)

Others chimed in on my Facebook page:

Agustín Maes voted for murmur, also, florid.

Artur Sebastian Rosman was full of ideas:  noctilucent, donut, iris.  Donut? Doesn’t he mean doughnuts, at least?  (Artur, get something to eat.)  He also favored  “TSE words like chthonic.”  TSE is T.S. Eliot – of haruspicate fame (which always sounds like a man clearing his throat, not prophesying). “Filiation is also a lovely word,” Artur added.

“My favorite word of all time and by far the liveliest in any language is…. vivificantem.”  Well, as he noticed, that’s not really English; it’s Latin.  So it shouldn’t count.

Marianne Bacon quarreled with Deshoda, the blog that started the contest:  “I think that list on Deshoda (whatever that is) is a bit silly. How about Chestertonian words, or Jack Lewis words- like woodsmoke, or pipe, or fireplace, or snow, or Christmas, or pudding, or child. Or elf, or lamppost, or courage.”  But the contest isn’t for words with pleasant context or associations, but beautiful sounds.   “OK, inglenook.”  I thought, at first she meant the wine – but no, inglenook is “a chimney corner, is a small recess that adjoins a fireplace.”

Jim Erwin wrote: “prestidigitation and Terpsichore are good examples of fingerpoia and feetpoia.”  Wait a minute, he made those last two up.

Daniel Rifenburgh made half a nomination – Sussurus

From Edward Haven yielded to my entreaties: “I’ve started to like Giraffe, but I have to agree nothing compares to authenticity.”  A son after my own heart.


Erën Goknar is “SO glad you mentioned the much-maligned [Edgar Allan] Poe and his bells!”

Finally, Sarang in my comments section offered “a little stream-of-consciousness: myrtle [in my fancy a portmanteau of myrrh, squirt, and turtle], scavenger, flounder, interred, fever, recalcitrant, splay, stray, splatter, vespers, pageant, expunge, effulgent, excrescence, gun, cleave, hew.”

Jeff Sypeck favored shorter-is-better:

My first impulse is to go with big, fun-to-say words like tatterdemalion, but I don’t think many of our little Anglo-Saxon words get enough credit for euphony: Read. Comb. Sleep. Yore. Soft little words can be beautiful, too!

Postscript on 7/15: A few more suggestions –

Joe Loya: Efficacious; ventriloquy; or supple. I love the way they look, sound, and their flexibility in application.

Another one from Artur Sebastian Rosman: Reconciliation is overused and under-practiced, but what a beautiful word.

And a few late nominees from Patrick Kurp incarnadine, philtrum, wan, atrorubent, flange .

I get a nice review, but Agustín Maes gets Paris

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

Dave Lull sent me a link for another review of my book, from Gregory Wolfe‘s Image journal:  “This year is the centenary of the poet and Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz’s birth. As a writer he is universally celebrated, but his life and work exist on such an epic scale that many of us are intimidated by the idea of actually clambering up those heights. So the publication of An Invisible Rope: Portraits of Czeslaw Milosz, edited by Cynthia L. Haven, is a welcome addition to the literature.”  The writer  concludes that although the book is not an introduction to the poet’s life and work, “it can be an excellent companion for the reader who decides to take the plunge and get to know a great man who lived through dark times and yet went on to become a witness to truth, goodness, and beauty.”

Covered with glory

Beneath the review I saw a familiar face:  San Francisco’s Agustín Maes was just named as one of two runners-up for the first-ever Paris Literary Prize, an international competition sponsored by legendary Paris bookshop Shakespeare and Company in collaboration with the de Groot Foundation. Winner Rosa Rankin-Gee took the 10,000-euro prize, and Adam Biles was the fellow runner-up. Their work was chosen from over 430 novellas submitted from 34 countries.  The contest highlights the novella as a literary form and is open to writers who have not yet finished a book.  The winners were announced on 16 June during an award event held at the Société des Gens de Lettres in Paris – so Agustín got a trip to Paris.

Erica Wagner, jury chair and literary editor of The Times (London), wrote:

“Along with my fellow judges, I was dead certain that the author of one of the runners- up, Newborn—about a naïve teenage girl forced to deal with an unwanted pregnancy— must be by a young woman. I mean, obviously, right? Nope. Its author turned out to be Agustin Maes, an American man… The kind of imagination evidenced by a story such as his is a reminder of what a magic trick really fine writing can be. It is the writer’s job wholly to inhabit the characters he or she invents: a rare gift that few authors truly possess.”

Congratulations, Agustín!