In what ways do our names define who we are? In this definition assignment, explore the meaning of your name and how it relates to your personality. First, read Rowan Ricardo Phillips’s poem “Proper Names in the Lyrics of Troubadours.” Then, use the questions below to write your own poem or creative prose composition introducing yourself to the class.
My parents never call me Rowan.
I’m Ricky, from Ricardo.
But not Ricky Ricardo.
I’m also the first Phillips in my family.
My mother decided Phillip, my father’s
Family name, sounded too much like a first name.
(In America, at least).
Rowan Phillip would lead inevitably
To Phillip Rowan. That was her story, and she’s sticking to it.
For the record, that’s an Old Norse first name,
A Spanish middle name,
And one of those faux-English-faux-Dutch-sounding last names
That’s really Greek for lover of horses.
“Rowan Ricardo Phillips”:
Another of those names that straddles seas in the sails of unseen
Ships. Still, it sounds typically West Indian to me.
And like “the West Indies” indefinite.
An indefinite room in an indefinite poem.
It took me a while to accept it.
After reading the poem, read the following questions and answer at least five of them.
- What does your name mean to you
- Research and explore why you were given your name
- Explore the connotations your name has (for you and other people)
- Think about how you feel about your name and why you feel this way
- If you were named after someone, explore and/or compare and contrast that person to yourself
- Compare and contrast yourself to other people with your name
- Explore any abbreviations of your name and the implications these have had on who you are
- Explain what your name does not mean
- Examine the definitions of your name and how these relate to who you are
- Examine the history of your name and how they relate to you
- Write about how this research into your name impacts your understanding of yourself
Based on your responses, write a poem or a creative prose composition introducing yourself and your name to the class.
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