And I also want to thank Laura Shovan of Author Amok, and say again what fun I've had writing poems for her birthday month colors. HERE is where you can find out all about her plan.
I'm preparing to give an assignment to a middle school class and thought you would like to see a few resources that I'll use for them. It's a creative writing experience that their teacher and I thought would be terrific to help the students take one added step and write for a spoken word/poetry presentation. Students will research their names and write from that research, connecting with the past, or geography, or something new. I cannot guess what they will find and deliver to us, but want to share with them as many examples of people writing about names and naming as I can. I already have some picture books and poetry anthologies, some essays I've saved from magazines and newspapers. The challenge is to turn their words into poetry, good to present and to memorize. This class has written in varied genres often, and I wrote poetry with a small group earlier in the year. Now they'll discover new ways to share their words.
I found a beautiful spoken word piece by a young man from Africa. No matter how long and difficult, he refuses to change it into silly nicknames for another's benefit. I know the students will love it. Here is the text and here is the video showing him performing.
His poem begins:
My name is a song;
I can sing it as I want;
in Soprano High or Bass deep.
Oh! It jars your ears.
(beat) I should shorten it?
I won’t. I will not reduce my name to F
A letter. And call it a nickname.
Or funkify it as P-h-e-m-m-y spelt P-h-e-m-m-y
Or change it to Famozo
…or its other version Famoshi
So that you might feel it?
My name is my identity.
Every element of our names reveals parts about us, our family background and culture, our personal connection because of experiences, perhaps even unusual connections from why our names were chosen. Students will have the choice of writing about their given names, their surnames, their nicknames or all three. Each can be a powerful story by the time one is an early adolescent.
Here is another example of a poem I'll share. When I Hear Your Name - Gloria Fuertes, (translated from the Spanish by Ada Long and Philip Levine) - is really a romantic poem, but shows the importance of a name for someone who loves.
"When I hear your name
I feel a little robbed of it;
It seems unbelievable
that half a dozen letters could say so much.
the rest is here.
If you have a favorite poem you would like to share about names, please tell me in the comments. I'll appreciate it!
I found this photo on Photopin. There is a pizza place in a little mountain town we used to go to where one could scratch one's name on a brick. This makes me wonder if this is a picture from that place, but even more, it makes me smile to think somewhere on a brick wall, my name, my husband's and my children's names are written. How important is your name to you? Do you know why you received your name? If you have children, do you have their name stories ready to share?