What’s in a Name?


March SOLC–Day 29

Still exhausted from a 14-hour day of school, conferences and what-not yesterday, I read Kim K.’s slice in which she created a found poem from her blog titles. Intrigued,  I turned to my blog titles from the past month to see if I could create a found poem. I diligently copied the titles and pondered. Hmmmmm…I’m not sure this is going to work. My titles are not inspiring me. While I sat before the computer waiting for inspiration to strike me between my tired, shadow-rimmed eyes, I started thinking about names, titles and words.

I like to know the names of things. Recognizing paintings or songs gives me a soft hum of satisfaction, and I’m always thrilled when I can identify flowers, birds or trees by their names. It’s like finding the perfect word to capture a thought or a feeling. There’s a zing! A name, a word, encompasses much more than just one finite thing. The perfect word or name is magical. It brings things to life!

Stephen King said that writing is telepathy and I agree. If you find the just-right words to describe something, you can take the image, feeling or mood from your mind and send it to your reader. Naming things enhances the process. For example, birds have some general shared attributes but when you identify a bird further with the name “chickadee”, it has a more specific appearance, personality and movements. Shakespeare wrote “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” I agree that the initial naming isn’t the critical piece. It’s the sharing of that name–The communal knowledge of all that that name encompasses is powerful indeed. It becomes a sort of shorthand. You could initially call any flower a rose, but once that certain flower has that name, its defining attributes or characteristics are imbued within the name. The name contains a world of meaning encapsulated within that one word.

It seems to me that a title should do the same. A title should hint at the essence of the piece it titles, or add a nuance to it. It should have that feeling of inevitability about it–a sense that it is deeply rooted within the body of writing. My titles generally don’t. They are usually afterthoughts and feel artificial or stiff, not at all organic. There’s clearly an art to titling that I have yet to master. So, I’m curious. How do you title your pieces? Do you begin with your text or with its title? Any helpful hints?

At any rate, after this long circuitous pondering (blame the conference overload and lack of sleep!), I finally culled through my list of slice titles and here’s my poem (untitled), found within a selection of those same titles.

One of those days
A Slight Miscalculation
If Only I’d Turned Right
Treacherous ground
The Nightly Struggle
A Bad Dream
The Peace of Early Morning
Spring is coming


7 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?

  1. Ellen says:

    I like the poem – and I agree that the importance of a name is in the sharing of it. This post made me think. Thanks.


  2. cindaroo42 says:

    I love the irony that your poem of your titles is “untitled” 🙂

    I think you are right about what makes a name. It is the idea/thought in such a concise way that makes it so tricky yet so powerful. I really enjoyed listening to your thoughts on this topic!


  3. MaryHill says:

    I really think the poem came together nicely. I also loved the discussion on writing. I find writing is a process that can take different roads depending on our focus, ideas, or mission for a piece.


  4. Melanie Roy says:

    I like your “found” poem and I agree that knowing the names of things gives me satisfaction too. And to answer your question, I come up with the title after writing the slice. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Amy says:

    Perfect! I’m a fan of found poems. I enjoyed yours too because I could connect the titles to the written pieces. Now I hope you can get some rest after your long day on Monday!


  6. Linda Baie says:

    I like that you brought in the importance of the specificity of naming, Molly. There is something very special held in just that one word, as you wrote, like chickadee, or then there’s daffodil, or snow! I do read what bloggers have said about their posts, & then the title, but also their own names. I have certain old blogger friends, but have found other “names” that make me click. I didn’t see the other post, but love the poem, think your titles came together to mean something!


  7. I love everything about this post, Molly, and I might have to steal this idea! I’ve had similar thoughts about naming and titles recently and even wondered about not even giving a slice a title. You’ve done a fine job arranging your titles into a hopeful poem.


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