Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y is for Yawp

Throughout this challenge, I've been posting about my favorite things--things that are important to me, things that inspire me, things that make me smile. I'm excited to have reached the letter Y because the word I've chosen for today, yawp, holds a very special meaning.

A yawp is a raucous noise, a yell. Children are, of course, masters of the yawp. Like all kids, mine love to be loud and boisterous and often exercise this love from the moment they wake up until the moment they lay their heads down at night. Yawp can also be used in reference to clamoring and complaining, which I'm sure describes us all from time to time. I heard the word used in this sense more than once when I was growing up: "Dana, quit your yawping and clean up your room." (I never thought I'd one day be saying the same thing to my own kids!)

However, the yawp I want to write about today is a different kind of yawp--it's the barbaric yawp that American poet Walt Whitman described in his "Song of Myself":

I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

Who can forget that wonderful scene in Dead Poet's Society where English professor John Keating (played by Robin Williams) encourages his timid student (Todd Anderson, played by Ethan Hawke) to find his yawp--that indefinable something that lives inside each of us, waiting to be given its voice. In this clip, Todd hasn't been able to complete his assignment, which was to write a poem, and Mr. Keating uses Whitman's idea of the barbaric yawp to help Todd express himself through poetry in a way Todd had never thought possible:



I cry nearly every time I watch this scene. I used to teach college English, and I hope that I was able to inspire at least one student the way that Mr. Keating inspired Todd, showing him that not only does he have a barbaric yawp but he can express it--and needs to express it. We all do.

I, too, sound my barbaric yawp. This blog is my barbaric yawp, my conduit for expressing myself. It's where I give voice to that something deep inside me that aches to be heard. Every time I post, I sound my barbaric yawp across the blogosphere.

We all do.

And I think Mr. Keating--and Mr. Whitman--would be proud.



What's your barbaric yawp? What have you chosen to give voice to today?

50 comments:

  1. I never heard of this word before (I didn't ee Dead Poet's Society), but will have to check it out now. Of course all the time I'm reading this, in the back of my mind I'm thinking "got to remember this Y word for Word With Friends on Facebook, LOL.

    I am not sure what my barbaric yawp could be, but I'm thinking it must be the same as yours with my blog. I'll have to do some thinking on that.

    One more letter!!

    Enjoy the weekend!

    betty

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    1. LOL Thanks, Betty! Have a nice weekend!

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  2. Aw this is awesome. That is one of my all-time favorite scenes too :) That and the "oh captain, my captain" which has me almost crying just to think of it. I echo that our blogs are our yawps. Writing, learning about ourselves and others, that's pretty yawpy to me!

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    1. That's a great scene, too! I'm going to have to watch the movie again. I couldn't believe it when my husband told me he's never seen it!

      Yawpy--love it!

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  3. it has been a long time since i saw that movie--my daughter has been asking me to watch it with her--maybe this weekend--thanks

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  4. This is such an excellent post. Wonderful. I'll have to reflect on my barbaric yawp but, like you, it probably includes writing.

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    1. Way cool. I think my yawp is writing as well. It's a personal, visceral voice that needs to be expressed. I was thinking over the A-z, what is it that describes what writers need, and this is it. I love this post! Might have to refer to/steal this term for later writing. Thank you!

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    2. Thanks, mare! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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  5. I love that word! I had never heard it before, or if I did I don't remember hearing it. I'll add it to my list of favorites! Thanks!

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    1. You're welcome. Have a nice weekend!

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  6. Nice posting and I haven't seen the movie in such a long time. I know what I will be watching this evening.

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    1. I hope to watch it again soon, too.

      Thanks!

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  7. funny!
    ever see storage wrs? there's a guy who bids by saying a strong Yeeehp!
    my sons baseball team does it sometimes to bait a hitter...its funny to hear them =)

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    1. That's funny! No, I've never seen that one, although I do watch some of the other "wars" shows, like Parking Wars.

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  8. Thanks for the reminder about a terrific film. I am making a note to watch it again, too.

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  9. Fantastic post--and I admit, I did NOT know what this word meant until I visited here today. :-)

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  10. Although I saw the movie I didn't remember the yawp part. Thanks for hte great post! My yawp? Today...would have been when I saw that it was goign to be a sunny day and my birthday weekend...it was a giant WHEWWWWW! It's gonna be fantastic!

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    1. Happy birthday! Glad you have a nice sunny day. :)

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  11. I'd not heard the word before, but I think my yawp is when I fist the air and yawp when I get an email from my publisher accepting my next novel!

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    1. That's a wonderful yawp! Congrats on your success!

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  12. Oh goodness! I forgot that scene! Makes me want to watch the movie again. Wonderful! Thanks. :)

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    1. I'm looking forward to watching it again soon. I never grow tired of it.

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  13. The minute I saw this word I knew it was familiar but couldn't place why or how I knew it. But there it was -- your little video reminder. Great post. My barbaric yawp has been recounting the little bits and pieces I know about my family history.

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    1. I love reading about your family history. I'm working on one myself, and your posts inspire me to do more with it. Yours is a wonderful barbaric yawp!

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  14. Hello Dana, beautiful space, passing to say hello, nice to read your text.
    if you like the poetry I invite you to my espacioes, thanks.
    happy day.

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    1. Thanks, Ricardo. Have a nice weekend!

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  15. That was wonderful! I forgot about that scene- makes me tear up too! It stands on its own, doesn't it? Great word, great example.

    I'm stll trying to find my authentic yawp! :)

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  16. Dana: what a wonderful capture! I will look for my very own YAWP as soon as this challenge is over, and before i jump into the next one! Cheers and congrats on your exceptional blogging. Sounds like you've got your YAWP down pat! Sylvie

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    1. Thank you, Sylvie! Let me know what you discover about your yawp.

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  17. Dana, your yawping always inspires me!
    I'm so glad I found your blog.

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    1. That's sweet of you to say. Thanks!

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  18. Yawp is a new word for me. Thanks for sharing this word though the definition can be varied. Like you, the creation of my blog has been an avenue for me to express my yawps.

    I would love to get to know you more through the creative entries you have in your blog. Would you care to link exchange? Farida :)

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    1. Thanks for your comment! I'm heading over to your blog right now.

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  19. I like yawp! Never had the pleasure to use it though.
    Great post.
    1 more letter!
    Heather

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  20. Thanks for the clip! It's such a great scene... and a great movie. Makes me want to watch it again. Wonderful choice for Y! :)

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  21. Carpe diem! Love that movie, too. Yawp is a great Y word. Great post.

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  22. I have always loved the movie, and I cried every time I watched it! Thank you for visiting - I am returning your visit now. There were so many blogs I missed the first time around, but I think the reflection posts give us a new chance to visit!

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    1. Yes, and I'm glad for that. Nice to meet you!

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