A magazine about stuttering

by Kitty Drake in November 2020
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Art & design

Dysfluent begins with a quote from the American psychologist Carl Rogers: “the curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” A magazine about stuttering, Dysfluent is, in one sense, a magazine about acceptance. Editor Conor Foran has created a stammering typeface: the text repeats, stretches and blocks, putting the reader inside the mouth of the stutterer in a way that is odd and beautiful. Instead of visualising expression as broken, Foran’s typography shows us sound forming over time. “Looking at the waxing of the Moon as heading towards a full moon rather than away from it gives the impression that fullness or completeness is up ahead”, writes Foran in an opening piece. “Everyone stammers. Repetitions, prolongations or hesitations are bound to happen to everyone who speaks… To be dysfluent at times is to be human”.

Talking about a stammer is exposing, which gives the interviews in Dysfluent a certain level of vulnerability. Interestingly, this is a magazine about difficulty communicating, but the way subjects express themselves on these pages is unusually powerful. The typeface gives the interviews an auditory quality, which makes you feel closer to people speaking. Café owner James Connolly wonders about how often he chooses not to speak, rather than risk stuttering: “Sometimes I want to say something but I don’t say it — wwwhether I should be saying weird sentences or just not speaking at all.” The experience of reading Dysfluent is often moving. 

One of my favourite pieces in the issue is a conversation between a mother and daughter who both stammer. Veronica, the mother, grew up so ashamed of the way she spoke that she didn’t allow herself to “fully take part in [her] own life”. Through Bevin though, she is at peace with it. The last line of the interview is Bevin’s voice: “Losing my stammer would be like losing a limb — I need it.”


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