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What's In A Name? POEM

The idea for this poem comes from Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge's book, Poemcrazy. The aim of this poetry making challenge is to explore your lesser known names using poetry to discover what these names might be. Using a structure provided by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge, a poem will hopefully emerge and you can discover some of your lesser known names:

My real name is
Yesterday my name was
Tomorrow my name will be
In my dreams my name is
Secretly I know my name is
My friend thinks my name is
The name I whisper is

Your names can be as silly or serious as you wish them to be. Trot out your names and see what emerges. Feel free to improvise on the structure as well. it's perfectly okay to break the rules here. Your names and moods might change with the seasons, or across the days and years.
Think about those names your friends and family call you. Inspiration might be found there.

When I thought about my many names, this is what happened for me:

What's In A Name?

My name was once Red Dog
-running wild and free
My real name is Logophile
Today my name is Arnie, the Prickly Bear
Tomorrow, my name will be Story Saver
In my dreams, my name is Light Seeker
Next week, my name will be Buster Smith The week after, Alvin Riot
Sometimes, my name is Earnest One or Frivolous Dancer
I'd rather my name be, Rupert than Stupid
Secretly, I know my name is Curious Wanderer
You, may call me Lefty
You, (and Paul Simon) may call me Al

'You may call me Terry, you may call me Timmy
You may call me Bobby, you may call me Zimmy
You may call me R.J., you may call me Ray
You may call me anything but no matter what you say'
Bob Dylan, Gotta Serve Somebody 


  1. This book is so rich... I do love thinking about names... thank you for the Call me Al reminder. :) Are you left-handed? You can call me "Lefty" too.

    1. It's great book indeed Irene. I have had it for some years now and I am able to delve back into it from time to time and I always seem to find new inspiration.
      I am indeed left handed like you Irene. Lefty has been one of my handles since my college days. It was all the more pertinent given my last name.

  2. I love this book, too, and used many of the ideas with students. They loved writing about their names! Love your self-naming, & the idea shared, too.

    1. Thanks Linda. We all appear to share a love of this book. I have no doubt kids would have a lot of fun with this and I shall be adding this idea to my poetry workshops.

  3. Looks like a fun poem structure. I can see using this in the classroom. I think students would enjoy this prompt. Lots of possibilities. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I could not but agree. Much potential exists in this idea for engaging kids in writing about all their various names.

  4. This looks like a fun poem structure to play with. Names are such rich sources of ideas, from names we are called or choose to the stories behind names.

    1. It is most definitely a fun filled structure with which to play Kay. So often there exists in a name, a story waiting to unfold.

  5. I love this for the beginning of the school year as we explore the meanings in our given names, and the importance of getting names right.

    1. Yes Mary Lee, it would be a variation of Aimee Buckner's idea of exploring the story of your name as suggested in her book, 'Notebook Know-How' Using poetry in this way would establish it as a legitimate way of expressing yourself. Good idea...

  6. Names are so fascinating! So many of my students have many names, including the "English names" they use at school, and the birth names they use at home, complete with two different languages, cultures, customs and even identities, on top of all the names they give themselves.

    1. Jane, you have hit upon some excellent prospects for writing about names. The cultural connection adds a further dimension to the possibilities- love it.

  7. Alan, this is a great activity. I will share it with teachers with credit to you. Thanks so much.

    1. Thank you Carol . I'm pleased you consider it worthy of sharing. The credit must go to Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge who shared it in her book, Poemcrazy, I only passed it on -with a few modest innovations. Like you, i think it has enormous application for poetry.

  8. Oh, thanks to the intro of this book. Will need to track it down. And you can call me Lefty as well.

    1. You're welcome Jone. A book worthy of being shared. The incidence of left handed poets is an interesting phenomenon...

  9. I love that prompt. I can see a lot of possibilities with it. Thanks for sharing it and your take on it.

    1. Glad you found it promising and identified its potential.

  10. I'm a huge fan of Poemcrazy and your post reminds me that I need to revisit it. This is a great prompt and I so enjoyed your poem. Lefty Wright--got to love it!

    1. Thanks Molly. We share an admiration for Poemcrazxy, no doubt about that. Thanks also for noting the irony of my names. Kids never fail to pick up on that one too.

  11. For such a lighthearted, fun prompt, I can also imagine poems packed with rich and layered results. Will definitely need to get my hands on this book!

    1. This is a poetic provocation rich in possibility as you suggest Michelle. A chance to engage with both humour and revelation or to quote you, 'rich and layered results.'


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