Hearing my name

One of the things that struck my somewhat sleep-deprived and overwhelmed mind during the Mass MoCA/Tupelo Press residency/workshop was that I had not heard people call me by name in such concentrated fashion for a very long time.

I am most often in settings where the group is so small and familiar that it is obvious that someone is speaking to me without their having to use my name. I also spent a lot of years answering to Mom, a title that I love, but it does cut down on the use of my given name, as people often referred to me as “Mom” rather than Joanne when my children were present.

During the conference, when people addressed me as Joanne, it reminded me of who I am as an individual, aside from my societal/family role. When I looked down at my nametag, which I kept joking I had to wear to remind myself who I was, or when I showed it to our visiting poets when they were signing book dedications for me so that they could have the correct spelling of my name, I was thinking even more about my name.

I thought I’d share again a poem that I wrote for the Silver Birch Press “All About My Name” series prompt.  It appeared there on June 29, 2015.

Becoming Joanne
 – by Joanne Corey

If my grandfather Giovanni
had not fled the Old Country
before the Great War,
I might have been Giovanna
or piccola Giovanina.
Born in 1960s New England,
I was Joanne —
one word —
small a —
with an e —
to avoid confusion with four classmates
who answered to that common name.

When I was eighteen,
my Latin teacher derived and gave
meaning to my name:
Joanne —
feminine of John —
from Hebrew –
variously translated as
God is gracious- —
Gift of God —
God’s gracious gift.
A daunting aspiration
as I began adulthood.

After decades of striving
to fulfill the promise,
to be worthy of my name,
in my sixth decade,
wisdom dawns.
God freely gifts grace.
have always been,
will always be
Joanne —
God’s gracious gift —
living out a universal call.

Author: Joanne Corey

Please come visit my eclectic blog, Top of JC's Mind. You can never be sure what you'll find!

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