Archives for category: All About My Name


Silver Birch Press was honored to feature poetry from 160 authors — hailing from 22 countries and 31 states — during our All About My Name Poetry Series, which ran from June 1-July 18, 2015. Thank you to our remarkable contributors — it was amazing and exciting to learn about you and your names!

Emily Achieng (Kenya)
Sue A’Hern (Wales)
Blaise Allen, Ph.D. (Florida)
Sandra Anfang (California)
María Luisa Arroyo (Massachusetts)
Pamela L. Atkinson (California)
Prerna Bakshi (Macao)
Mary Bast (Florida)
Ellen Wade Beals (Illinois)
Roberta Beary (Maryland)
Joan Becht-Willette (New York)
Michael Charles Biegner (Massachusetts)
Aida Bode (Connecticut)
Rose Mary Boehm (Peru)
Anne Born (New York)
Lynne Bronstein (California)
Cynthia Bryant (California)
Rex Butters (California)
Danielle Nicole Byington (Tennessee)
Don Kingfisher Campbell (California)
Alexandra Carr-Malcolm (England)
Diane Castiglioni (New Mexico)
Yuan Changming (Canada)
Tricia Marcella Cimera (Illinois)
Joan Colby (Illinois)
Joanne Corey (New York)
Yoko Danno (Japan)
Subhankar Das (India)
Angela Dawn (New York)
Sheila Deeth (Oregon)
Ashini J. Desai (Pennsylvania)
Jonathan Dick (Canada)
Morgan Downie (United Kingdom)
Erika Dreifus (New York)
Jonathan Louis Duckworth (Florida)
Tj Hoffman Duffy (Arizona)
Barbara Eknoian (California)
Alejandro Escudé (California)
Gina Ferrara (Louisiana)
Jennifer Finstrom (Illinois)
Jackie Fox (Nebraska)
Joan Gannij (Netherlands)
Jerry Garcia (California)
Lourdes A Gautier (New Jersey)
Gail Fishman Gerwin (New Jersey)
Siwsan Gimprich (New Jersey)
Gary Glauber (New York)
Amlanjyoti Gowsami (India)
Vijaya Gowrisankar (India)
Geosi Gyasi (Ghana)
Marianne Hales Harding (Utah)
Lee Anne G. Hall (Tennessee)
Emily Henry (Canada)
Lindi-Ann Hewitt-Coleman (South Africa)
Joanie Hieger Fritz Zosike (New York)
Linda Hofke (Germany)
Melissa Holm (Georgia)
Karen Paul Holmes (Georgia)
Veronica Hosking (Arizona)
Robin Dawn Hudechek (California)
Michele Hyatt-Blankman (Maryland)
Anita F. Ibeakanma (Nigeria)
Keith Russell Johnson (California)
Nina Johnson (Indiana)
Victor Johnson (Texas)
Brent Danley Jones (Japan)
Sian M. Jones (Maryland)
Meenu Jose (India)
Oonah V Joslin (England)
Amanda Justus (Tennessee)
Sasha Kasoff (California)
Russ Kazmierczak, Jr. (Arizona)
Mary Kendall (North Carolina)
Merie Kirby (North Dakota)
Laurie Kolp (Texas)
Jennifer Lagier (California)
Paul E. LaPier (Montana)
Hazel Katherine Larkin (Ireland)
Joan Leotta (North Carolina)
Richard L. Levesque (Indiana)
Roz Levine (California)
Aurelia Lorca (Nicole Henares) (California)
Christina Lovin (Kentucky)
Lennart Lundh (Illinois)
Rick Lupert (California)
Susan Mahan (Massachusetts)
Shahé Mankerian (California)
Amy Marengo (Virginia)
Michael Mark (California)
Ruthie Marlenée (California)
Christina Marrocco (Illinois)
Betsy Mars (California)
David Mathews (Illinois)
Sarah Frances Moran (Texas)
Stephanie J. Morrissey (Texas)
Jocelyn Mosman (Massachusetts/Texas)
Leah Mueller (Washington)
Lee Nash (France)
Robbi Nester (California)
Sunayna Pal (Connecticut)
Christa Pandey (Texas)
Vidya Panicker (India)
Tony Paterniti (New York)
James Penha (Indonesia)
Kenneth Pobo (Pennsylvania)
Apoorva B Raj (India)
Patrick Reardon (Illinois)
Mark Redford (England)
Glenis Redmond (North Carolina)
Roslyn Ross (Malawi/Australia)
Alexis Rotella (Connecticut)
Alexis-Rueal (Ohio)
Sarah Russell (Pennsylvania)
Danielle Ryan (New York)
Charlotte San Juan (California)
Gerard Sarnat (California)
Trish Saunders (Hawaii/Washington)
Michael Louis Schinker (Nebraska)
Marsha Lee Schuh (California)
Aftab Yusuf Shaikh (India)
Shloka Shankar (India)
Jay Sizemore (Tennessee)
Merna Louise Dyer Skinner (California)
Diana Smith Bolton (Virginia)
Corinne H. Smith (Pennsylvania)
Clifton Snider (California)
Kim Solem (Minnesota)
Massimo Soranzio (Italy)
Betty Stanton (Oklahoma)
Carol A. Stephen (Canada)
Caitlin Wynne Stern (Texas)
Terence Sykes (Virginia)
G. Murray Thomas (California)
Thomas R. Thomas (California)
Lynne Thompson (California)
Surbhi Thukral (India)
Sarah Thursday (California)
Bunkong Tuon (New York)
Annie Bolger Tvetenstrand (New Jersey)
Vincent Van Ross (India)
Regina Vitolo (New York)
Elizabeth Kirkpatrick Vrenios (Maryland)
Jean Waggoner (California)
Natalie Wallace (California)
Alan Walowitz (New York)
Mercedes Webb-Pullman (New Zealand)
A. Garnett Weiss (Canada)
Steve Werkmeister (Kansas)
Kelley Jean White (New Hampshire)
Lynn White (Wales)
Lin Whitehouse (England)
Vin Whitman (Florida)
Scott Wiggerman (New Mexico)
Martin Willitts Jr (New York)
Chris Wilson (California)
Jessica Wiseman Lawrence (Virginia)
Abigail Wyatt (England)

Belief strengthens
by Vijaya Gowrisankar

As a bundle of joy defined their world,
my parents stepped out to search a name
A name for life, that would identify me,
a reminder of blessings bestowed on them

They believed the name would influence me
to act with strength in rocky, rugged roads
They spent days looking for the perfect name
as suggestions and rejections went to and fro

In the naming ceremony, they called me “Vijaya”
that meant “victory,” as Sanskrit reveals
What’s in a name, I wonder many a times and
recall numerous incidents that passed my life

Every time that obstacles decorated my journey,
each moment I unconsciously motivated myself
The words of encouragement “Come on, Vijaya”
unleashed a power to pursue and persist

My beliefs influence my actions in life,
strengthen my path and the choices I make
My soul surges as I write or hear my name
I step up as a victor to vanquish my inner victim

One of the many names of Goddess Durga,
as she fights for goodness to prevail
I bow my head in humble acknowledgement ––
My name personifies the way I lead my life

PHOTOGRAPH: The author in Mumbai, India (November 2014).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Vijaya Gowrisankar released her first book of poems Inspire in 2014. The book contains 100+ poems on topics like Nature, Life, Let Go, Positivity, and Change. She is passionate about writing poems from childhood.

Quite A Mouthful
by Tony Paterniti

Anthony Joseph Paterniti—quite a mouthful.
Anthony Paterniti in elementary school.
Anth to my friends.

Aaaaan-tho-nee! when my ma called me for
dinner—like in the spaghetti sauce commercial.

When choosing up sides for softball, it was
You take Paterniti … No, you take Paterniti …
pronounced Patter-nitti . . . like Nitti the Gangster.

By the time I got to Junior High, my homeroom
teacher was the gym teacher, Mr. Ginsburg.

Anthony? What kind of a name is Anthony?
Tony, he declared—like Yankee shortstop
Tony Kubek, or Cleveland Indians slugger
Tony Conigliaro, or the Minnesota Twins’
league leading hitter, Tony Oliva.

Despite my traditional mother’s objections,
it’s been Tony ever since. It was the year
of the Beatles. I put down my baseball
bat and picked up my guitar and
never looked back.

Still that Paterniti (Patter-nitti) was a mouthful
and it was only the rare European teacher who
would pronounce it correctly, with its music
intact: Paa-tare-knee-tee—with the accents
on the first and third syllables.

Maybe I coulda lived with Patter-nitti (kinda)
but with adolescence, the surname shit
hit the fan. I began hearing the slew
of alternatives that still linger on
to this very day . . .

Like Paternity, Patta-ninny and Paganini—
pronounced in flawless Italian:

Then came the nicknames.

Short for Tony was Tone, and that was OK,
but nicknames for my chameleon surname
exceeded all surrealistic expectations—

Like Pags and even Patches.

As I began to find my way through the fields
of adulthood, I learned to stand up for my
surname—well, the Nitti version at least—
calmly correcting any mispronunciations;
but Anthony was still out of the question
(except where the IRS was concerned).

When I started working at the United Nations
my first supervisor was into numerology and
asked my permission to “do my numbers”
and I said OK.

A small aside . . .

     The main thing with numerology is,
     the first nine letters of the alphabet
     are assigned a number—i.e., a is 1
     and b is 2 and so on—then
     beginning with the tenth letter
     it starts all over, and j is 1
     and k is 2 and so on—
     all the way to the end
     of the alphabet.

     Then you add all the numbers up
     and break them down.

     Two digit numbers are broken down
     to single digits by adding them together—
     thus the number 12 is collapsed by
     adding 1 and 2 to arrive at the
     numerology value of 3.

Well, Carol Stone added the numbers
of Anthony and broke them down to
a single number, then found the
values for Joseph and Paterniti,
then added them all and broke
them down to find my
personal number . . . 3.

She explained that if I had had
a repeating digit—as in the
numbers 11 or 22—those
were considered Master
a great destiny.

And you never break down
Master Numbers by adding
them up.

But I didn’t have any Master Numbers.

So I went home and decided to calculate
Anthony and Joseph and Paterniti
all together before breaking them
down . . . and it added up to 111.

Back at work the next morning
I told Ms. Stone and she looked
at me aghast, saying,

           That’s impossible!
           You’d have to be

Still, despite such a grand augury
it was not until last summer that
I finally came to own my complete
first (and full) name again.

I was playing five supporting roles
in a major, through-composed musical
called Song of Solomon, directed by
Broadway actor and choreographer
par excellence Luis Salgado.

In our cast of 43, I was Tony and
another fellow was Anthony.

And every time Luis called Anthony—
I wanted to answer. The thing is
Luis, with his Latin accent,
expressed the resonance
of my personal name in
a way I had never
heard before—

with a rich, warm first syllable,
a fully pronounced, meaningful
second syllable, and a third syllable
to match the true ending sound of
my surname, Paa-tare-knee-tee.

So now I finally know how to pronounce
my name with power and dignity, and so
I say Anthony with power and pleasure
as easily as I might also say Tony with
all its musical implications, including
the lover in West Side Story, who
just met a girl named Maria.

And you know, I do believe I have a unique
destiny to fulfill, and I am only now opening
my soul to its true possibilities, by stripping
away all the limitations in my previous
self-image, when the resonance of my
Real Self seemed just too difficult
to pronounce.

And what was once a mouthful is now
a heart . . . full and singing—

           Say it loud and there’s music playing.
           Say if soft . . . and it’s almost like praying.

Or, to paraphrase the late great Jim Croce—

           I carry it with me like my daddy did
           but I’m living the dreams . . . that I kept hid.

          I’ve Got a Name!

© Anthony Joseph Paterniti, 2015

PHOTOGRAPH: Tony Paterniti at the Parkside Lounge in New York City, April 27, 2015, where he performed several of his songs and read several ghazals from his book 424 Ways to Find Your Lover. (Photo by Mike Geffner)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: For several years, I’ve focused on the writing of ghazals, a 14-line form (seven rhyming couplets) that originated in Persia. Ghazals generally express a personal spiritual theme, challenge, or insight, often with a poetic twist or climax in the final couplet. My ghazals focus on the larger spiritual challenges we face today, including the impact of relationships, the twists and turns of society, and nuances of feeling. The idea of “finding your lover” in my book entitled 424 Ways to Find Your Lover alludes to the process of progressively becoming one with the infinitely resourceful and infinitely human self within. The final selection of ghazals numbered 424—the birthday of both my stepdaughter and grandson (April 24)—so I chose to publish a single larger volume instead of two shorter books to maintain that resonance with these two unique souls. The book’s title is a play on Paul Simon’s song “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover,” which happens to capture the poignancy, humor, and movement towards inner freedom that characterizes most of these ghazals. The book, an offering of Tony Paterniti Publishing, is available through

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tony Paterniti is an actor, singer-songwriter, and performing poet. He has appeared Off-Broadway and as part of through-composed musical working its way towards Broadway. In 2008, he published a collection of 424 ghazals entitled 424 Ways to Find Your Lover, and has a successor volume on the way. He has also featured on Poet-to-Poet cable TV series and Mike Geffner’s Inspired Word Series, both in New York City.

B.H.Jr. 8th grade
My Name
by Victor Johnson

My last name was Harris, which my biological mother gave,
Living in an Orphange in the State of Michigan which didn’t know if it    would be saved.
My first name is Victor which my adopted parents saved,
It means Victorious as I agree to behave.
I’m proud of my name as I have grown older at
Neighborhood kids bullied me but I’m a true soilder.
If I could do it over I wouldn’t change my name,
To show that I’m stronger to beat the game.
My nickname was given by the neighborhood kids,
Eggbird to Birman the change was in.
As I got older my talents turned to basketball and I dreamed I could fly,
The name Birdman was born and I didn’t understand why.
But now I’m a Poet and I travel all around,
Birdman313 will land softly on the Poetry ground.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author’s 9th grade photo at age 15.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is how my nickname was given to me by the neighborhood kids, and the change from eggbird to Birdman.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Originally from Benton Harbor, Michigan, Victor Johnson received a B.A.  in Social Science from John Wesley College in Owosso. He tried out for The NBA California Summer Pro-Basketball League, the Eastern League, several independent teams, and spent several years playing semi-pro basketball. In 1980, he moved to Houston. The author of four poetry books and three chapbooks, he has also been published in Forward Time Newspaper, Storm Magazine, Harbinger Asylum, Indiana Review Newsletter, The Permian Basin Poetry Society Anthology, and Silver Birch Press. He’s a member of the Austin Writers Roulette and host of the annual Spoken Word Contest at the National Black Book Festival. He appears in a Poetry Is Dead, a YouTube documentary by Weasel Patterson of Vagabonds Press.

The Name Denotes the Mood
by Pamela L. Atkinson

A name takes on so many forms
It’s hard to tell which one’s the norm
Depending on the mood of the caller
Will it be loving, or yelled in a holler?
Will I respond in love, or in a storm?

“Pamela Lynne!” filled me with dread
Hearing it meant trouble. What had I said?
“Pammie, come play,” shouted my nephews.
How could this loving heart ever refuse?
Each greeting warns me of what lies ahead.

“Pamela,” formal . . . they don’t really know me.
“PL” an endearment for me. You see?
“Pam,” by co-workers when passing by.
“Ms. A” by students brings a happy sigh.
I wonder which name would be etched in a tree.

“Hey Bitch!” Oops, I’ve made somebody mad.
“That’s a dear,” my help made her feel glad.
In what manner would you like me to respond?
Think carefully, use a name of which I am fond
So that my response doesn’t make you feel bad.

IMAGE: “Pamela” stickers from

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’ve always been fascinated by all the names we go by and the moods that each name creates. This poem is just me having a little fun as I ponder all the names by which I am known.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Pam Atkinson is a long-time educator who writes to keep her sanity. She has written poems and autobiographical stories for family and friends from childhood to old ladyhood. When not correcting papers, writing lessons, or reading a good book, you will find her, with her laptop or notebook, writing away.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTOGRAPH: This photo was taken in Merced, California, in 2014 during a family reunion photo shoot. I love being surrounded by my family.

My Wîhowin (name)
by Emily Henry

In the traditions of my people, I share the story of my wîhowin. I am an nêhiyaw-iskwêw (Cree woman). I am an nôsisim (grandchild) of Okawimaw askiy (Mother Earth). I was born on the Ochapowace (one who recites from memory) an Nêhiyaw-Askîhkin (Cree nation) located in Kisiskatchewanisipi (Saskatchewan ‘fast flowing river’), in the country of Canada (Haudenosaunee word for ‘land’ or ‘settlement’). My father’s nêhiyawi (Cree) ancestry runs deeply within my veins; generations and generations of my ayisiyinowak (people) live in what became known as Treaty Four territory. I was born an skīciwinō (treaty) ayisiyinowak. My mother’s father was also from the nêhiyawi ayisiyinowak (Cree people); however, her mother’s ancestry is from the Apitaw-kosisān (Métis – Cree/French people) lineage. They traveled from the Red River to the Apitaw-kosisān Settlement of Marieval, which at one time lay nestled in the hills of the Ka tepwas (Qu’Appelle – it [the river] calls) valley. Ochapowace and Marieval lineage intertwined in the form of my mother and father’s union. My English name is Emily Jane Henry. I am the tepakohpwâw (seventh) child born to my parents; as such, my true wîhowin, my spirit wîhowin was revealed the moment I was formed within my mother’s womb. My spirit wîhowin is Kihci Têpakohp Iskotêw Iskwêw (Seven Sacred Fires Woman). My English names originate from two strong honoured lifegivers and family matriarchs: Emily of the nêhiyawi ayisiyinowak and Jane of the Apitaw-kosisān. Henry, my surname, represents resiliency. The mōnīyas (settlers) who could not pronounce our traditional names gave us English wîhowins so that they could pronounce them; in our resiliency, we made them our own. We shall wear our family wîhowin with honour for isko pîsim ta-sâkâsot, maskosiya ta-ohpikihki êkwa sîpîya ta-pimiciwahki (as long as the sun shines, the grass grows, and the rivers flow).

My Ancestors, Kākithaw niwākomākanak’s (All my Relations) resiliency helped shaped my destiny, my calling, my wîhowin. When my ayisiyinowak entered into treaty with the Crown, they could not know that it meant that their children would become prisoners in residential school. There was no way to predict that multigenerational impacts that laws created for assimilation would negatively impact generations of our ayisiyinowak’s lives. There was no way to predict that the treaties would lead to the loss of so many traditional wîhowins and that wîhowin’s would be replaced by mōnīyas’ surnames. We continue to carry proof of the broken treaties in the form of our iskonikanîwasinahikan (treaty/status cards), which represent our wîhowin in governmental identification numbers. In spite of our country’s dark past, it is with the honour of our wîhowins and our Ancestors that we, the nêhiyawi ayisiyinowak signed the treaty with sacred intention to commit to the agreements for isko pîsim ta-sâkâsot, maskosiya ta-ohpikihki êkwa sîpîya ta-pimiciwahki.

My wihowin is Kihci Têpakohp Iskotêw Iskwêw and I was destined to become a Sacred Firekeeper. I was born from resiliency. My wîhowin inspired my life purpose. Answering to the calling of wîhowin makes me an oskâpêyos (helper) for my ayisiyinowak. I was born to help light the mweciayinânew iskotêw (Eight Fire), the Spiritual Fire, so that our culture remains vibrant in the lives of our ayisiyinowak for isko pîsim ta-sâkâsot, maskosiya ta-ohpikihki êkwa sîpîya ta-pimiciwahki.

Kākithaw niwākomākanak,
Kihci Têpakohp Iskotêw Iskwêw

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTO: Here is a picture of my eyes, my ‘worldview,’ when I was 12…

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  ‘Wîhowin’ is inspired by my cultural traditions. Indigenous peoples are people of oral tradition. Our wîhowin tells our story. Our wîhowin also tells the story of our lineage, the story of our tribe, our community and our family. Our wîhowin speaks to how we exemplify the honour and dignity of our clan and the nation that we represent. We are people of relationship and kinship. As we participate in traditional ceremonies, we learn our spiritual connection to all of Creation. Our wîhowin speaks to our place in the great circle of Creation. I am “treaty” person. My Ancestors entered into treaty with the Crown. The words “as long as the sun shines, the grass grows, and the rivers flow” represent the treaty’s timeline that the Crown said that they would honour the treaties.  Instead the treaties and the laws that they inspired ravaged generations of our people’s lives, as we became wards of the Crown. In effort to keep track of us, the Crown issued us identification numbers; and to them; the numbers became our wîhowin.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Emily Henry is a Cree First Nation Woman from Ochapowace reserve in Canada. She has authored several manuals used for intervention of Aboriginal offenders in federal custody in Canada. She has two Facebook blogs — BalancedLifestylesForKnowledgeSeekers and WalkingTheTalkASacredResponsibility. Both blogs feature traditional teachings designed to create awareness of Indigenous cultural beliefs.

The boy who turned into a girl
by Vidya Panicker

The name
scribbled on the blue slip of paper,
rolled in to a cylinder
and hung from a nail on the wall
of the prayer room at home
was a boy’s

and for me — the girl in the cradle

they truncated
and feminized
and crushed
and squeezed
and pinched it

turning it into names which sounded
awkward to the ears
and looked ugly
on the birth form
announcing my arrival

Meanwhile, I was
‘the girl’,
‘the little one’,
‘the nuisance’
‘the child’
‘the thing that wails’
and so on.

After a month and half
of my nameless existence,
they burned the blue slip,
opened the book with a thousand names
of the mother Goddess,
chose the best
and whispered it in my left ear

three times.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTOGRAPH: This photo was taken a few months ago in the common room for doctoral students at my institute (I am living up to my name, which means education).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My paternal grandmother was the only person in the family who longed for a male child. For the others, including my parents, the gender of the child was largely immaterial. Granny’s dreams for a grandson came true once my brother was born four years later, and thus the intended name found an owner too.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Based in the God’s own country of Kerala, India, Vidya Panicker’s poems have appeared in The Feminist Review, So to speak, Shot glass journal, One sentence poetry, Three line poetry, Aberration Labyrinth, Bangalore Review, 4and20 poetry, and others.

Shifting Syllables
by Sana Gill

Once a mass of hunger cries and skin folds,
reborn into nobility at three months.
Mother went into labour again—
called out to ancestral souls
for an auspicious identity.
The answer:

Brilliance, praise.

Arabic, Urdu, Hindi wove into its syllables
till the smell of henna and the sound of prayer call
danced between its phonemes.

Short but unrelenting,
it demands to be tasted.
It lingers on the class list,
Kate, Cameron…Sayna?
Stands out on a foreign tongue,
unapologetic but forgiving.
Never know how to tell them:
it is poetry not penalty,
sing it as a rustic lullaby—
let the tongue stroke the incisors,
slow and precise.

Usually masked or dressed,
it’s still naked on my mother’s tongue,
confessing of its origins:
a rumbling forest fire, a consoling hymn.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTOGRAPH: This is a picture of me at the age of six, attending my cousin’s wedding in Multan, Paskistan. It is only one of the few childhood photos that have accompanied me to Canada, and I will forever cherish it for its simplicity, a trait highly symbolic of my life in Pakistan as a child.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I believe that a name is not just a label to be associated with a person, but a proud declaration of one’s roots. Through this poem, I hoped to pay homage to my proud identity of being a Pakistani-Canadian, and demonstrate the complexity of preserving the cultural aspects of the name as I reside happily in Canada.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sana Gill lives in Mississaua, Ontario, Canada, with her parents and her three brothers. She is a third-year student at the McMaster University, enrolled in the Health Sciences Program. She loves to eat, read, write, and take long naps.

out of the tunnel
Mhuirnlaoch dunadhach
by Morgan Downie

sea-thief, he who dwells with horses,
who drops his name careless
into a well, listens as the world
fills with a clatter he calls his own

penny his eyes, the stillborn son,
send him into the west until he returns
black sailed, salt-scarred hands spilling
stories on the sand of home

now, ask his name
and he will tell you
of another man

IMAGE: “Out of the Tunnel” by Morgan Downie.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My name, very loosely, means sea-dweller and horse-thief. Playing around with it in Welsh, Scots, and Irish Gaelic ended up in Mhuirnlaoch Dunadhach, which only has a passing acquaintance to the horse thief who dwells beside the sea. I’m very interested in the naming of places, how they change, their significance and how they fade.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Morgan Downie writes short stories and poetry and is a visual artist. His first collection stone and sea was published by Calder Wood press. This was followed by distances, a Romanian-English photopoetry collection, and a lazarus, a chapbook-length collection that was shortlisted for the qartsilunni prize. He has been shortlisted for the Macallan, Orange, and Bridport prizes.

Ashini Desai2
What is in a name?
by Ashini J. Desai

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Let’s give it up Juliet!
You never did formally introduce yourself as Mrs. Juliet Montague, did    you?
Ever pause when asked your name?
Ever feel your tongue tangled upon an introduction,
hoping you won’t be seen as an imposter.
Had you known, Jules, you would have stayed a Capulet.

I guess you might ask, “why did you do it?”
I admit, the romantic in me wanted to begin our new life as one team,
to share a name creates intimacy, cementing a bond.
Besides, it’s much easier for us to have the same name…
               (Easier for whom?)

Yet, I was lost trying to find my eponymous network folders.
I felt I was representing the wrong team,
when asked if I knew another Desai.
I so much want to shout, “No, I’m really a Jani!”
Why did everyone else get to stay a Jani?
How can the new brides in the family become Jani
and I’m not anymore?

I’ll always be a Jani girl as my memory resonates with stories
of those shoulders upon which we stand.
Their fibers of resilience are entwined into my DNA.
After almost 50 years of marriage, my mother still distinguishes
herself as one of Vyas Sahib’s daughters, which makes sense.

I chose to break centuries old patrilineal naming traditions.
Rather than trading my father’s first name with my husband’s
to be my new middle name,
I allowed the Jani to step inside my future.
No hyphens, just a “J” tucked in there as a reminder and support.
At first, my mother was aghast — as if I were disobeying my husband.
Then she realized how special it was and we are still linked.

After all of this name shuffling,
of men, of families
of histories and of futures,

I know the first name is all mine.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTOGRAPH: At my wedding in 1998, excited by the future that lay in my henna-dyed hands.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In my region of India, in addition to taking his last name, the wife adopts her husband’s first name as her middle name. The children will have their father’s first name as their middle name. This allows a family to track their ancestry through the father’s lineage. When I got married, I realized the impact of a name change in modern, western society.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ashini J. Desai balances creative writing with family, community, and a technology management career. Her poems have been published in various literary journals and anthologies. She has published book reviews, articles on writing and parenting, and poetry for a number of South Asian websites. Her poetry blog site is