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A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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Question: Where are you from and how has that shaped you?

Jorie Graham: Well, I grew up in Rome. I spent the first 17 years of my life in Rome, therefore speaking Italian as the first language, and going to a French lisé, so speaking and learning to think via the French system, although my parents are American ex-patriots, so I grew up essentially bilingual, and then trilingual. I learned English fluently only when I was almost 18 and came to school in the U.S. after having been at the Sorbonne in 1968.

Of course, all foreign students in 1968 at the Sorbonne were with people holding foreign passports were asked to leave after what they called the Evénements. So I came to New York at that point and studied in the American system, and became a speaker of English, and, as a result of that, wrote in English, although I can’t imagine having written in any other language because the English language is such an extraordinary language for poetry, so I feel very lucky that it turned out that way.


Recorded on April 3, 2008



Jorie Graham On Growing Up ...

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