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And the Winner Is…

A gracious good morning to you!

In this week's archive episode, we savor the pleasure of reading poetry aloud -- specifically the poems in "Essential Pleasures," the recent anthology of ear-pleasing poems gathered by U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky.


Also this week, we discuss whether a woman who keeps her maiden name after marrying should be addressed as "Ms." or "Mrs." We also talk about the phrases "redd up" and "out like Lottie's eye," and consider why some children start speaking relatively late in life.

You can find Pinsky's anthology here:


Did you know, by the way, that "anthology" comes from the Greek words "anthos," meaning "flower," and "legein," which means "to collect." In its most literal sense, an anthology is a kind of "literary bouquet."

In that same episode, we heard from a listener looking for a word she'd heard years ago. It was used to describe someone who's exceptionally good at packing a whole lot of objects into a small space. She'd heard it in reference to someone who was able to cram lots of luggage into a small car. She thought that the word might begin with "v."

We weren't able to help her, but quite a few of you wrote and called afterward with ideas.

Dorothy Kalaveras and Mary Dilligan were among those who wrote to suggest "horror vacui," a term that literally means "fear of empty spaces." Horror vacui is used in visual art with reference to a surface that's completely covered with intricate detail. You see lots of instances of horror vacui in ancient Mesopotamian art, or for that matter, on the label on a bottle of Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap.

However, many of you suggested the word "stevedore." We're betting that's what she was looking for, and are grateful to Jack McRoberts, Eric Hellstrom, Robert Dailey, and others for suggesting it. More about "stevedore" and its origin here:


We occasionally get emails from people asking us to recommend books for adult learners of English as a second (or third or fourth) language. Cynthia Crossen of The Wall Street Journal has an excellent list of novels and short stories that are appealing to adults but not too daunting for someone not yet fluent in English:


Also on the literary front, think of your all-time favorite book. Now imagine you could bottle its contents. How would it smell? That's the question raised in a recent tongue-in-cheek article in The New Yorker magazine about the fact that Elizabeth Gilbert's bestseller, "Eat, Pray, Love," has now inspired a line of fragrances.


Come to think of it, if you could bottle a radio show's essence, wonder what would that smell like? What notes would you detect when taking a whiff of "Eau d' AWWW"? Let us know what you think.

Speaking of feedback, we were delighted that more than 800 of you took the time to complete our "A Way with Words" listener survey.

Thanks for your thoughtful responses about your likes, dislikes, and ideas about how we can make the show better. We'll be giving careful consideration to all of them.

We'd also like to thank the team of M.B.A. students from the University of San Diego -- Kathy Myers, Erin Leahey, and Jason Jarvinen -- who'll be analyzing the results and advising us on ways to help keep our independent, non-profit production company going strong.

And now, the envelope, please: The winner of the brand-new, AWWW iPod Shuffle in our first-ever Listener Survey Sweepstakes is … drum roll … Patricia Blackshear of Frankston, Texas. Congratulations, Patricia!

Thanks again to everyone, and remember, whether or not we're running a survey, your feedback is always welcome.

Until next week,

Martha and Grant

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