First Language, Mother Tongue, Milk Language

I’ve enjoyed writing about how my first language came, integrated, faded, reappeared and keeps growing. This piece appeared on Brevity’s Nonfiction Blog (Somewhat) Daily News from the World of Literary Nonfiction and can be read in full on their website (click link). It reflects upon how Estonian, which I spoke before English, beckoned me in midlife and eventually became central to my book of poetry, Mouth Quill—Poems with Ancestral Roots.

I find the role of first languages and how they continue to unfold in our lives to be fascinating. “The milk language” (Ghita El Khayat) is a beautiful metaphor for the way earliest sounds, rhymes and lullabies are conveyed from mother to infant and continues its influence long after.

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