Monthly Archives: September 2013

What’s in a name?

“If you ask me my name, take the time to spell it correctly. Take the time to learn to say it correctly, and I’ll do the same with yours.” ~   Icess Fernandez Rojas (Journalist), in response to Starbucks’ practice of writing its customer names on cups – and getting it wrong a lot of the time…

Names

My name is not the same as yours;
Yours is not the same as mine.
So when you ask my name, take time to
Find out how to say it as I like it to be said.
Take time to spell it as I like it to be spelled
And I’ll make sure I tell you how.

Take time and treat my name with some esteem;
Accept my name the way it seems,
Don’t stare at me looking all quizzical;
It’s a name, not something metaphysical.

If you’ve found that it sounds strange to you
Then please – don’t guess at what you’ve heard
Or write down something quite absurd –
A name that certainly isn’t mine,
Take time, and ask me how it’s spelled,
And if you can’t tell first time around
Then ask again, and listen to its sound;
Listen to me, and watch my lips,
Listen to how I carefully pronounce
The vowels, spell out consonants;
It’s important that we get names right,
So take time, all our names are personal;
They may be easy or exceptionally
Difficult to say or spell; some may seem unusual
To you, but every person’s name is precious.

Names should not be objects to be mocked
Or slighted because you can’t be arsed
To get it right; maybe you find it comical –
Reminds you crudely of parts anatomical –
Or conjures innuendo in your mind –
Because I mind, – it winds me up
Because my name belongs to me,
As much a part of my identity,
As how I look, the way I speak and
Where I’m from; names don’t make us freaks,
So don’t tell me my name sounds odd because – guess what?
I’ve had it all my life, so to me – it’s not!

And this is not about pretention or being politically correct,
I simply want to mention that names are things
That we should treat with much, much more respect.

© 2013
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Filed under Poetry

The Self-Promotion Dilemma

I admire the self-confidence of my fellow poets and writers. I admire the way they grasp opportunities to promote themselves and their work, to tell the world about forthcoming appearances at spoken-word events or festivals, or share competition and publication successes, near-misses and honourable mentions. And that’s not intended in any way as being sarcastic – I really do have genuine admiration, because if there’s one element of this writing business I really struggle with, it’s self-promotion.

You see, I’ve never been a naturally competitive person. I appreciate recognition as much as the next person if someone happens to think I’ve done something well – but I don’t enjoy feeling I have to actually compete for praise, or push myself forward to be judged or compared with others. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had more enjoyment from simply taking part in activities, rather than setting out to win or prove I’m better than anyone else.

I know I’m not the only one. Roger McGough sums it up perfectly:

“I have always regarded the creative impulse as something pure and seen a paradox in the need to show off the result, to see it published, sung or hung on the wall… I have never fully resolved the conflict between the privacy of the poet and the public face of the performer…” (Said & Done. Arrow, 2005)

Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Roger is one of my poetic heroes and influences. But it does beg the question whether it’s possible to rise in the world of writing and poetry without a certain amount of narcissism.

Maybe I should adopt the philosophy of Neil Innes, and simply take the view that “I’ve suffered for my music, now it’s your turn”, but – seriously – if you are a poet or writer, successful or otherwise, I’d be interested to know how you’ve gone about shutting up that little voice in your head that keeps trying to tell you that really, you should just keep your poetry to yourself unless anyone asks to read or hear it, and ended up believing in your work sufficiently to put all those lovely words out into the world regardless, and sod what anyone else thinks.

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Filed under Musings