Each of Us Has a Name

So I finally used the wonderful poem by Zelda that Stacey over at Two Writing Teachers introduced at the beginning of the month: “Each of Us Has a Name.”   Students were a little indifferent as we read through the poem, and some dismissed it as ‘corny’ (one of their worst condemnations) … until we got to the end:

Each of us has a name
given by the seasons
and given by our blindness

Each of us has a name
given by the sea
and given by
our death.

Suddenly, everyone was paying attention.  “We should read this again,” Raj said.  So we did.  And then a third time.  And then just a few lines here and there.  And then we talked about it.  And we talked about our own names and how we like or don’t like them and where they came from and what they say to us and about us.  We learned that Zoraida is actually the second daughter in her family with that name, that she is next to last in a long line of children and one of her older sisters is a Zoraida, too.  “My mother must have just gotten tired of thinking up new names,” she said.  We already knew that Jeovany didn’t like his real name.  We all call him Jeovany because that’s what he likes to be called, but his real name is his grandfather’s name, and it’s a little old-fashioned, a little hard to see attached to this young, street-tough boy.

And then, naturally, we wrote. 

Sandy liked her poem enough to give me permission not only to enter it in an upcoming writing competition, but to post it here.

Each of us has a name
given by nature and
given by our heart.

Each of us has a name
by the moonlight
and the sky

Each of us has a name
by our color and
by our eyes

Each of us has a name
by our voice and
our soul.

Each of us has a name
by our age and
our pride.

Thanks, Stacey, for introducing me to this poem. It makes an excellent lead-in to the “Where I’m From” writing we’re starting now!

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