the dictionary project author interview: Arianne Zwartjes


It’s the second Wednesday of the month at the dictionary project, and we have our second non-traditional author interview featuring writer Arianne Zwartjes!

In our author interviews, instead of responding to direct questions about their life or work, guest authors discuss their relationship to words and provide answers to dictionary project words bibliomanced specifically for them.




1. Please share a memory/story/thought in relation to a dictionary/dictionaries:

My grandparents gave me my first dictionary, a brown leatherbound edition which I still have, packed as it is in boxes at the moment. My grandmother’s spidery handwriting stretches across the inside of the cover, for Arianne, so much love, etc etc. I was eight, I think, or nine. I still think of them every time I open it, which I do with fair regularity.


2. What is your current favorite word?

Currently my favorite word is eyesoar, a gross misspelling from a recent work email which, it occurs to me, creates gorgeous new meaning and is actually a way better word than the original they were trying to approximate.

3. What, in your opinion, is the most obnoxious/insidious/annoying word?

Like. Anyone who teaches must feel this way, I imagine.


4. Please respond to the following words and definitions, picked exclusively and randomly for you:

os·ten·ta·tion  \ˌäs-tən-ˈtā-shən\  pretentious or excessive display — ostentatious \shəs\ adj  — ostentatiously  adv

ver·so  \ˈvər-sō\  n, pl   versos :  a left-hand page


draughts  \ˈdräf(t)s\  n, Brit  :  CHECKERS


Far East  the countries of  E Asia & the Malay Archipelago — usually thought to consist of the Asian countries bordering on the Pacific but sometimes including also India, Sri Lanka, Bangledesh, Tibet, & Myanmar — Far Eastern adj

film·o·gra·phy  \filˈmägrəfē\  n,  pl  phies  a list of motion pictures featuring the work of a film figure or a particular topic




leavings: a filmography


aisha is the one who should create any list of films. i am the verso, she the main page. this is an ostentation, a play for words, a desperate bid. tom waits agrees; he says i am striving. to lose at draughts, to misplay, to lose the lines on the road. this is the kind of move i have made recently.  when i traveled in the far east which is only far and only east to us, rooted as we are here in our stretching continent of asphalt and wheat and mountains, i learned the past moves in both directions, forward as well as behind us. when words try to pin that down they fail.




the idea of home is suspect. in spike jonze’ film the fall, a horse is winched from the river below a high bridge; it hangs dripping from the sling in a limp arc. a train is frozen on the trestle, a small black and white terrier barks furiously. (home can be person, place, or thing. nouns define us.) this intro is, in my opinion, the best part of the film.




i have been to two films recently which stopped midway through, the screen blurring or blacking out, the sound jelling to a halt. J tells me once when that happened to him, his friend seamlessly began verbalizing the soundtrack as he imagined it, and the whole theatre clapped when the scene was done. films that include separations, departures, homes found or homes lost: a river runs through it. lonesome dove. lawn dogs. once upon a time in anatolia. a la mar.







Arianne Zwartjes is addicted to the NPR show On Being. She is currently living out of a moving van traveling between Arizona and New Mexico. She will soon be living out of a backpack in the Gila wilderness. Lately she has fallen in love with The Brothers K by Robert James Duncan and with everything and anything by Fanny Howe.

1 Comment

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One response to “the dictionary project author interview: Arianne Zwartjes

  1. Oh! “Eyesoar!” What a great word! It’s what I experience — many times — but in particular when Giovanna smiles at me.

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