Jordan Scott: Poet, speaker and person who stutters
- Category: Book Reviews
- Published: Monday, 04 May 2015 15:19
- Written by Lisa Wilder
Jordan Scott might be a person who stutters, yet an avoider of difficult words he is not. In fact, his second book of poetry, Blert, published in 2009, was deliberately written to be as difficult for him to speak as possible. Originally from Coquitlam, British Columbia, Jordan is fascinated by the linguistic implications of stuttering as it relates to human communication and sees his work as "a desire to explore stuttering poetically". A reading tour followed the publication of Blert in which Jordan put his stuttering on display in all its glory. The Music Gallery in Toronto featured him that year in performance along with the Elemental Choir.
"...a stutterer's interaction with language is remarkably different from that of persons who don't stutter..." Jordan's writing and performance have received acclaim from readers, critics and writers, and he was nominated for the Dorothy Livesay prize for poetry for Blert. By forcing himself to experience the exaggerated physiological limitations of his speech as a performance, Jordan examines the interaction of thought and mind that takes place in all human language, where for him “every word is achieved through bodily negotiation”. In the author's note to his book, he states "...a stutterer's interaction with language is remarkably different from that of persons who don't stutter. Socially, the stutterer is deviant, a facial acrobat whooping in the throes of 'Good morning' or 'one cheeseburger please.'"
Interrogation and fluency
Jordan has had other projects since, including teaching creative writing at Simon Fraser University. In 2014 he gave a reading at Poetry & Poetics, a reading group held at the University of Pennsylvania. His lecture was entitled The State of Talk: Notes towards Speech Dysfluencies and State Interrogation Procedures, and examined how dysfluencies in speech are seen as signs of falsification and how an interrogator treats speech as a window into the human psyche. As source material, Jordan used interrogation training manuals, logs from the prisons at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib and the Vancouver police department, as well as popular movies featuring stutterering. He is particularly intrigued by a scene in the movie a Fish Called Wanda, where Kevin Kline's character ties up and interrogates the stuttering Michael Palin. As Palin stutters, Kline fills in the words he wants to hear. You can hear Jordan's entire talk (audio only), and a Q&A session afterwards, here.
Jordan examines how dysfluencies in speech are seen as signs of falsification
Language and nature
In 2013 Jordan co-wrote Decomp, an experimental project in which he and co-writer Stephen Collins left copies of Darwin's book, the Origin of Species, outside in natural environments throughout coastal British Columbia. They retrieved the copies a year later "in various states of decomposition". Containing colour photographs and poetry inspired by the way natural elements affected the physical book after being placed in the natural world, Decomp is a commentary on the interaction of nature, language and culture.
In 2010 Jordan was the subject of a short documentary entitled Flub and Utter.