The Names of Things

One reason I write the weekly poetry exercise is to simply spend the time thinking about the craft.  Another reason is to give my dead brain something to rise for, to begin thinking so I actually write something new.  I have writing buddies who know the end of their poem before they put pen to paper.  Me, erm, not so much.  I have to start out with a literal pen in my hand and a blank piece of paper.  I have to move that hand across the paper.  It’s only when words begin to surprise me that I begin riffing on them, playing.  Then, I have to write until I get to an end.

This week’s writing “thang” is not about a form, but a topic.  It would be a useful writing topic for most short forms of writing, but I think it would work best with poetry because in poetry you don’t have to be so literal, so linear, in the structure.  Moving from Point A to logical Point B isn’t required.  It might be good as a piece of prose, either as a flasher, or a quickie – either fictional or memoir, but the end would have to be quite pithy.  The pitfall if written in prose is that it could be a didactic piece, or fall into being too “telly”.  If you take this topic on with a poem, you can play with imagery – make a “charade” game out of it, or play with rhyme.  The “thang” is to write a poem about your name.  Where it came from, what it means, anything really.  First name, last, both, it doesn’t matter.  Just play with writing a poem about your name.  There could be fun with nonce words, or maybe make an “Ode to Thyself”,  I think a poetic form would be unique in making a theme like this particularly interesting.

Many of us have chosen our names in this genre of erotica.  Writing a poem about the “why” you chose your name makes you go stop, and remember your thoughts, then work your phrasing so it’s not just:

“I chose ‘Nettie’ as a diminutive of ‘Nettlesting’ while at the same time as being able to play with the name, ‘Annette.’  And I chose ‘Kestler’ as an anagram of ‘kestrel’ and because there weren’t fifty million Kestlers in google, so I didn’t think I’d end up with a cross-identity.”

Boring.  Might as well just put it in a form and stick it on a spreadsheet.  Anyways, this writing exercise came from one of the Guardian’s poetry workshops.  If I haven’t written about The Guardian’s poetry workshops, they’re worth reviewing.  They were run nearly monthly from 2004-2011 and had a variety of poets taking on a topic, writing their thoughts for an exercise, and then reviewing and commenting on a few of the submissions they felt had sufficient quality. They’re a great resource to return to when you’re burnt out and need something to grab onto for a topic.

Here’s the source idea for doing this exercise:

Colette Brice’s Poetry Workshop – “What’s in a Name”

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