Monday, April 23, 2018

NPM 4-23: Names

Spoken word poetry sometimes brings me to my knees. Watch this video of Rachel Rostad reciting her poem Names during the 2013 National Poetry Slam.

You can read the poem in full at Verse. Here is a short excerpt.
When you find, say, an injured bird in your backyard, and you wanna to nurse it back to health and release it back into the wild, they tell you not to name it. If you name something, it becomes a someone. It makes it harder to give it up. 
When my parents named me Rachel, it was a prayer for everything they wanted me to be: American. 
Sometimes I’m glad my first name is as apple pie and baseball as Rachel. But also kinda not. 
How your ancestors had a different name stepping off of Ellis Island than when they stepped on. 
The pros and cons of taking your husband’s last name as your own. 
The pros and cons of accepting a diagnosis. 
Some say written language is only the bad translation of spoken. 
You cannot read a speech and see the speaker. 
You cannot read sheet music and hear the song. 
When the very first word was written down, something must have been lost. 
When my parents renamed me “Rachel,” something must have been lost.

Happy Monday all.


  1. I think if I ever had the opportunity to attend a Button Poetry competition in person I would have to sit backstage, because I can rarely hear spoken word poetry without chills or tears. This ...hurts.

    I'm so grateful that we kept my sister's name when she was adopted; sometimes it's hard when there is no name, and so we moved her surname as her middle name... I'm grateful that we kept as much of a grip as we could on her birth mother, who was elusive, and herself in the grip of addiction. Mostly, I'm grateful my sister found her own half sister on Facebook, and so she maybe has someone with whom to navigate the bitterness I hear in this Rachel's words.

  2. My adoption papers list me as Baby Cross. No first name is listed. I suppose I'm grateful my parents had the chance to name me, but I do feel the weight of Rachel's words. At nearly 53 I'm still wondering about my roots.