Magical, Combustible Words with Phil Cousineau

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Do you ever find yourself a little mumblemouthed? Or do you go to the dictionary to look up a word, only to get sidetracked when other, more interesting words catch your eye? If so, you share Phil Cousineau's dynamic relationship with words. For him they're playthings, enchantresses, magical sounds that can stir your heart, and mementos that tell fascinating stories about the lives of the ancestors who created them. The way we use them has more power than we may realize. As Mr. Cousineau tells us, "Words matter. They're combustible. They can convey love. They can convey political struggles. Do we call what's happening in the Middle East, 'building settlements,' or do we say, 'housing construction'? It's combustible, the words that we choose." You'll love his stories of the long journeys his favorite words have taken to find their way into our lives, and the provocative nuances hidden in the origins of others. You'll even find clues to how you can stop procrastinating, and finally finish that novel you've been working on, if only you can find the words. (hosted by Michael Toms)


Phil Cousineau is a freelance writer, filmmaker, photographer, art and literary tour leader, teacher of creativity, a lifelong lover of the night, and an all around Renaissance man. He’s published over 30 books and has over 25 documentary film writing credits. He is also host and co-writer of Global Spirit, a nationally broadcast television series. He's a guest host for New Dimensions Radio.

His books include:

He is consulting editor of:

To learn more about Phil Cousineau’s work go to

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • Why an acquaintance becomes a "companion" only after you break bread together
  • How a Philippine word made its way into American slang-via a baseball game
  • What does baseball reveal about America
  • Why a grammarian is really a magician
  • What you can do to make sure you actually finish those creative projects

Host: Michael Toms       Interview Date: 5/18/2010         Program Number: 3358    

Music Playlist

From Album: Music from the film, The Meaning of Tea
Artists: Joel Douek & Eric Czar
1997 Quinland Road Music

Opening Essay: Track14 Wu Wei
Music Break 1: Track: 03 Tea, South Dakota
Music Break 2: Track: 11 Tea Ceremony
Music Break 3: Track: 13 Nantou Mist