When I started school in Australia I was put in a special class for ESL children. I was horrified to learn that I couldn’t speak English. I thought I spoke English just fine. Little did I know, it was actually Broken English that I spoke.
Many years later, as an adult, I was involved in a little open mic poetry community. Someone posted a recording from one of these events, and once again I was horrified; this time by the sound of my voice. It sounded so foreign to me. So Anglo-Australian. I had dropped my guard somewhere along the way and my Broken English had given way to an Art School Anglo-Aussie English with hints of Westie.
It took a while to recover from this shock and I momentarily stopped performing my work. After a while it became apparent to me that the only way to reclaim my voice was to return to my mother tongue: Broken English.
Broken English is My Mother Tongue
2K video with stereo sound, 2020
This is part of a new SRB series devoted to the experimental essay. Read more about the series here.