bathing-woman miro
Same Name — Sort Of
Joan Miró and Me
by Joan Leotta

As a child
when introduced to Miró’s work,
I thought he was a woman.
After all, his name was Joan.
My name.
I did not reckon with the Catalan
spelling of the Spanish, “Juan.”
As an adult, learning of
my mistake
invoked laughter and a study
of Miró at various DC museums.
I felt a bond with this
Catalan nationalist artist
through our almost-same names.

On a recent mother-daughter
jaunt to Turkey
my daughter booked for us—
writing, as always,
Joan Leotta, as her travel mate.
When we arrived at the hotel,
obviously mother and daughter,
our hotelier was visibly embarrassed.
“We made up a double bed,”
he mumbled.
We laughed at the mistake.
It’s ok, Mom and I can share,” she told him.
I agreed.
By the time we reached our room,
I realized what had happened.
Miro had taken his revenge!
On seeing the name, Joan
The hotelier,
More a fan of art than U.S. spelling,
The clerk had thought me, male!
Jennie and I chuckled.
Miró had taken his time,
but the great artist, so thinly related to me by name,
surely now was enjoying the last laugh!

IMAGE: “Bathing Woman” by Joan Miró (1925).

Jennie and Joan Leotta in Ephesus, Turkey, 2015

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I thought and thought about famous folks with my name. Sadly, I do not feel much of a connection with my patron saint — I have not been toasted for any cause. I was not named for Joan Crawford. Then I recalled that for sooooo many years, even after learning Spanish, I had thought Miro to be a woman! Not a fan of abstracts, I did not bother to investigate very much — for many years. It was not until I lived in Washington, DC, and visited several exhibitions of his work that I realized his spelling was the Catalan version of the Spanish “Juan” and that his most abstract works were a form of social protest. So, I came not only to know about him, but to love and appreciate his work — all because of our “shared” same name. And, truth be told, this past spring in Istanbul, I did truly wonder if the great artist was “tweaking me” for all the years I had thought him to be a woman.

PHOTO: The author (left) and daughter Jennie in May 2015 during their mother-daughter trip to Turkey.

joan leotta2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Leotta has been playing with words since childhood. Joan recently completed a month as one of Tupelo Press’s 30/30 poets. She has published or has work forthcoming in Red Wolf, A Quiet Courage, Eastern Iowa Review, Silver Birch Press, and Postcard Poems and Prose. Joan also performs folklore and one-woman shows on historic figures. She lives in Calabash, North Carolina, where she walks the beach with husband Joe. She collects shells, pressed pennies, and memories.  Visit her at joanleotta.wordpress.com and on Facebook.