June 28 at the SI

For the next four weeks, most of my entries will be about how I’m trying to learn to write at the Summer Institute (SI). Every presenter asks us to write on the spot. Writing on the spot is hard for me. Writing good and quickly is, too. So I’m going to stretch myself. Put down my guard, and share what I’m writing in class.

On the first day of the institute we began with introductions. Tina used Marge Piercy’s poem from My Mother's Body, “If I had been called Sabrina or Ann, she said,” to encourage us to write short pieces about our own names.

The poem begins this way: “I’m the only poet with the name./Can you imagine a prima ballerina named/ Marge?” And it ends like this: “Even my tombstone will look like a cartoon.”

So here’s what I wrote:

KaaVonia—I might be the only person with this name. I’d rather be Kathy, but I’m KaaVonia…turned Kaa. Kaa—one syllable, one letter if you like. Thank goodness too. KaaVonia has too many syllables, too long to write. No one pronounces it the same way: KuhVonia. KayVonia—talk about a cartoonish tombstone. My name will not even be able to fit on one.