Language as Both Salve and Poison


What I have seen, what we have seen, is language forced into the service of violence. A rhetoric of desperation and devastation molded into the incomprehensible, then vomited out in images and words that we cannot ignore though we have tried.

Lit Hub shares a beautiful, heart-rending essay by Maaza Mengiste, a meditation on Chinua Achebe, the power of language as both “salve and poison,” and the place of the writer in the face of the extreme violence—“fields of blood” soaking the present moment.

Kyle Williams is a student at Brooklyn College, studying creative writing and literature. You can find more from him on Tumblr at, but don't feel like you have to. More from this author →