1132: Felonious States of Adjectival Excess Featuring Comparative and Superlative Forms by A. H. Jerriod Avant

20240604 SD

1132: Felonious States of Adjectival Excess Featuring Comparative and Superlative Forms by A. H. Jerriod Avant


I’m Major Jackson and this is The Slowdown.

I love listening to public conversations. They allow me to check the pulse of language. Once, while waiting for my friend Prageeta at the bar at Grand Central Station, I eavesdropped on the conversation next to me. By coincidence, I was sitting next to a fundraising officer and an alumnus of the University of Vermont, where I worked at the time.

I introduced myself and announced that I taught in the English Department. After pleasantries, the UVM alumnus said quite firmly: I stopped hiring English graduates at my company; none of them know how to speak or write cogent emails. He blamed the informality of texting and a general lack of business etiquette. I was surprised by his generalizations. I think my students are discerning and capable writers. Like any number of English students across the country, they just face a unique set of challenges.

Maybe there is a laxness to communication compared to previous years’ work environments, but with all the platforms of staying constantly in touch with colleagues, family and friends, a newly minted English major navigates multiple communication modes, and not just texting and emails. I, also, find it difficult to successfully code switch between different environments. I once texted a senior colleague who had been at the institution thirty years: I’ll catch you at lunch, homie. She asked later over coffee, What’s this word, “homie?”

But the challenges of the porous discourse between communities can be beneficial for a poet. While colloquial phrases may not have a place at work, in a poem they offer a sense of vitality. Poems that blur and use multiple registers of diction (from the casual to the formal) lean into how language is deployed today. It intentionally plays with, and plays up how words serve as a tool to our needs and whims.

I am drawn to poets who, like the author of today’s poem, bring imagination and attention to sonic idioms of a poem. They make reading aloud fun.

Felonious States of Adjectival Excess Featuring Comparative and Superlative Forms
by A.H. Jerriod Avant

my mo’favoriter       and mo’better       is my most favoritest

is mo’simpler this way       is mo’fluider       mo’wetter       most hottest

‘cause the most beautifullest      is mo’beautifuller      mo’meaner

mo’flyer       and most flyest       mo’shyer       and the most shyest

is more than more intelligenter        than the panel’s most ugliest

and most selectivest       is the most goodest       is the most burntest

is mo’burnter       and mo’unrulier       is the most meekest

and even mo’meeker       is the most ownablest       is mo’purchasabler

and the most purchased       thus       becomes the most purchasablest

              at the site of the most shiniest coins

my most funkiest       is also my most stolenest       but the most stolenest

can’t ever be mo’funkier       than the most oldest       the most thievin’est

be the most brokest       cause the most thieved from       be the most oldest

so becomes       the most richest       who also be       the most fundedest

and that makes me       the most confusedest       when I’m in the most

keptest buildings       that be       mo’kepter       than all the most

time keepin’est kats       they keep in the back       up keepin’‘em.

"Felonious States of Adjectival Excess Featuring Comparative and Superlative Forms” by A.H. Jerriod Avant from MUSCADINE © 2023 A.H. Jerriod Avant. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.