Playing with words

A man smiling next to a piece of paper with writing next to it

Regular Your Voice contributor and keen writer Tim Shanks shares some of his work and explains how having a stammer has influenced it.

I have stammered all my life and also suffered from anxiety and depression. These perceived rock and hard places have negatively fed back on each other to my further detriment.

Despite many therapeutic efforts over the years I have been unable to make any fluency technique work for me. The only one that has worked was the avoidance of stammering including at times the avoidance of talking. However, I am now trapped inadvertently by the increased fear of stammering as a result.

I am a recent convert to the theory of stammering with pride, but know practically or emotionally that I will not be able to do so at this late stage of my life. I wish this theory had been available in 1951, but as King George VI knew — it was not! I am glad things have improved in this way for future generations of people who stammer. 

My writing

Ironically (or maybe obviously) I enjoy communication more by writing. Although I suffer from glossophobia (speech anxiety/fear of public speaking) I am also a dysfluent logophile (a lover of words). I like writing comic verse, aphorisms, epigrams, puns, and wordplay on many subjects close to my heart, including stammering. I even invent new words like 'flue(nt)phoria' (a feeling that accompanies successful avoidance of stammering) and 'glossopphobia' (the fear of stammering in Glossop).

I would like to share some of my writing with you:

Stutterances from Glossop

I am a phonetically diverse writer of verse

In my past stammering made me cry
It was a crying shame

King George VI had a stammer
He tried to breathe the life out of it

Stammering — avoidance or acceptance
What is the right ance swer?

The S Word

will not kill me
like a Sword

Two Way Speak

When I stammer
I feel good
I will never say
I feel bad
When I stammer

This last one is a 'reverse poem'. Read down from the first line and then read up again from the last line. Thanks to poet Brian Bilston for the idea.

Read more articles from Tim. Would you like to write something? Tell us about your experiences or share your stammering-related art or opinions. Email or see Submit Something For The Site for more information.

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Tayo & Bhupinder
A speaker on stage at STAMMAFest 2023

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