Finding your voice
August 14th, 2020
Vancouver Island poet, Jordan Scott has struggled with stuttering all his life.
He first wrote about it in his poetry book, Blert (Coach House 2008) in which he transforms stuttering into art.
Now Scott has written a children’s book, I Talk Like a River (Penguin $24.99 hc) about a boy who stutters and feels isolated and alone, incapable of communicating in the way he’d like.
“The P in pine tree grows roots inside my mouth and tangles my tongue,” says the boy. “The C is a crow that sticks in the back of my throat. The M in moon dusts my lips with a magic that makes me only mumble.”
Getting ready for school, the boy sits alone at breakfast.
“I eat my oatmeal without a peep. I get ready for the day without a word.”
At school, he hides at the back of the class, hoping he won’t have to talk.
“When my teacher asks me a question, all my classmates turn and look,” he says. “All they hear is how I don’t talk like them. All they see is how strange my face looks and that I can’t hide how scared I am.”
The boy’s father picks him up from school and sees that it has been a hard day for his son.
“It’s just a bad speech day,” he says. “Let’s go somewhere quiet,” and takes the boy to the river to help him find his voice.
“See how that water moves? That’s how you speak.”
The boy sees how the water bubbles, whirls and churns in places, but also where it is calm beyond the rapids.
“Even the river stutters” he says. “Like I do.”
Jordan Scott pulls from his own childhood experience to explore the way his father helped him accept his stutter and offers support for anyone who is differently abled.
I Talk Like a River is for ages 4 – 8 years. Illustrations are by Sydney Smith
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