OpenLab Assignment#1: What’s in a name?

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. 

Proper Names in the Lyrics of Troubadours

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.

  1. What does your name mean to you
  2. Research and explore why you were given your name
  3. Explore the connotations your name has (for you and other people)
  4. Think about how you feel about your name and why you feel this way
  5. If you were named after someone, explore and/or compare and contrast that person to yourself
  6. Compare and contrast yourself to other people with your name
  7. Explore any abbreviations of your name and the implications these have had on who you are
  8. Explain what your name does not mean
  9. Examine the definitions of your name and how these relate to who you are
  10. Examine the history of your name and how they relate to you
  11. 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.

Post to OpenLab! Include a photograph or image in the post or as your avatar. ..

3 thoughts on “OpenLab Assignment#1: What’s in a name?”

  1. I was given the name Ivy because my parents thought the name was simple, easy to pronounce and easy to spell. My name does not mean poisonous. The first thing that comes to mind when people hear my name is poison ivy. Ivy is actually an evergreen climbing ornamental plant which represents fidelity and eternity. People with this name tend to be quiet, cooperative, considerate, sympathetic to others, adaptable, balanced and sometimes shy. These definitions relates to who I am because I’m more of a quiet and shy person. I feel that my name unique because although it’s very simple, I haven’t encountered anyone with the same name.

  2. Lotion, Potion, Ocean
    All sweet things that rhymes with Noshin
    The Muslim name Noshin means sweet and pleasant
    Most will call me a present
    I’m my parents present.

    Sweeter than gummy bears
    because I’m the only one that cares.
    Even let you call me “Nosh” on my worst days.
    Even though there’s two of we so they call me “Nosh” most days.

    The other is always happy.
    Perfect hair, never nappy.
    No I’m the other always bored
    Never explored.

    “Noshin” used to mean a phrase to me.
    A noise that I needed a mirror to see.
    I learned today that I’m sweet as the meaning of my name.
    But I’d still be sweet with the name Donald Trump.
    I understand that I’ll always be nice.

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