Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Name Poetry

"A name should be taken as an act of liberation, of celebration, of intention. A name should be a magical invocation to the muse. A name should be a self-blessing."

--Erica Jong, Fear of Fifty
There's a book that's been on my shelf since grad school and it's called Poem Crazy: Freeing Your Life with Words. I love Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge's book of wild and crazy poetry prompts, and I wanted to share an exercise from her chapter called "Our Real Names."

Wooldridge asks us to name ourselves and to explore who we were, who we are now, and who we see ourselves becoming. She encourages us to be open to strange and interesting words and images (and combinations of images). In one example, one of her students called himself "tossing helium dream." Another called herself "hot-hipped black woman" and "seaweed."

Here is my attempt at the exercise:

My name was once Onion Skin.
I left sheer sheath flakes between the leaves

of books and in wrinkled flannel sheets,
sweaty marks on the palms of your hands.

Today people call me
keeper of spirals and light.
I make no sound and leave small traces
of silver dust.

* * * * *

What are your names?
Use one or two of these starters to write your poem:

my real name is...

yesterday my name was...

tomorrow my name will be...

secretly I know my name is...

my name once was...

Feel free to post your poem here. Have fun!

Art piece above by Courtney E. Putnam: "Offering," mixed media collage


Anonymous said...

hello! i stumbled across yr blog sometime ago and have been loving it. such insightful posts & words of wisdom & creativity. thanks! &, when i saw this entry, i had to write. susan is wonderful! i took a few classes with her when i lived in chico, CA. &, she has a great new book out called Foolsgold: Making Something from Nothing and Freeing Your Creative Process. take a look!!!! & thanks again for the insightful blog! polly

Courtney Putnam said...

Thank you for visiting, Polly! And thanks also for the tip on Susan's new book. I'll most certainly check it out!