Up until a couple of years ago the students I see have long been able to write their names. By the time they get to me, they’re dabbling with different signatures, trying out nicknames, adding hearts to their i‘s, and their jersey number to the end of their names.
I took for granted the amount of practice, skill, and patience it takes to get them to this point until I began my job as an At-Risk Literacy Specialist in the Ypsilanti Community Schools. There are shaky letters, tearful beginnings, long pauses, and lots of questions. There are also smiles, papers held high, and, “Look! Look what I did!” when a name has been written.
What a wonder to see yourself on the page.
Jacqueline Woodson offers a powerful sentiment about writing one’s name for the first time in her book, Brown Girl Dreaming:
The first time I write my full name
Jacqueline Amanda Woodson
without anybody’s help
on a clean white page in my composition notebook,
if I wanted to
I could write anything.
Letters becoming words, words gathering meaning,
becoming thoughts outside my head
Jacqueline Amanda Woodson
For this week’s prompt, try some name poetry. Here are a few choices to play around with:
- Write a poem about writing your name for the first time.
- Write a bio poem using your name as the title. Simply tell us all about you, including the kinds of details you might include in a bio! Feel free to choose an angle. (A bio poem for your workplace might sound different from a bio poem for your dance class.)
- Write an acrostic poem using the letters in your name.
Thanks to everyone who participated in our recent poetry prompt. Here’s one from Sandra Heska King we enjoyed:
See us standing in the shallows
dressed to kill
in stunning rosy pink
with curled S-necks.
See us sweeping side to side,
scoop and swallow,
measuring our meals
with long-billed spoons.
—Sandra Heska King
This is a book about being a teacher, and about being a mother, and, in its way, about being a writer. But it is most fully a depiction of living with a work of literature, about the conversations literature can spark and the memories literature can hold and reconfigure. The acknowledgments suggest that writing this book helped Callie Feyen remember why she loved teaching. Reading it made me remember why I love to read. —Lauren Winner, bestselling author and Associate Professor, Duke Divinity School
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