My calling card… what’s in a name?

A sort of a prose poem.
Names… I had never gone by my birth name, but then I decided to sign my art with it. At first, it was to honor the grandfather I was named after–who I never knew (He died two weeks before I was born) And my uncle, also an artist, and a kind of mentor for me. But I’ve gotten acclimated to it. Accepted it for what I do. Which has become what names mean for me, and how I use them.
Jacob Russell (Russell, being my middle name), was how I sign my poetry and fiction, and has been my go-to name for most of the last four decades. More recently–there’s, Goby. A fish that can change it’s sex. I don’t change my sex, but accepted in my late years, that I am in no way limited in my desires to the opposite gender/sex–though this is something that works out mostly on the level of imagination. A Radical Faerie name–a fantasy name for fantasy sex. And, planting beans. Planting beans, today…climbing beans… wondering if I might, when they reach the clouds, climb to the top and visit the kindly giant who lives there (his bad reputation? what you would expect from English colonizers and would be capitalists!)… so… a gardener’s name. A Magic name… when “Jacob” sounds way too serious.

A name should never be a prison. But a seed. Germinating new names, new identities. Always becoming, always under repair… and never, ever…  fixed.

2 thoughts on “My calling card… what’s in a name?

  1. Yeah, I agree. Willard Johnson sounds so hick, country, grass seed, whereas Jacob Russell is so Scottish, philosophical. Interesting about perceptions! 🙋


  2. Russell is my middle name. For the first half of my life, I signed my name, W. Russell Johnson. I never felt that “Willard” was ‘hick,’ an insulting, classist term. When I was 3 and 4, I lived in the same house as my uncle, and didn’t like being called “Little Will.” So my family called me “Rusty,” I guess… as a diminutive of Russell, which was my father’s name. I didn’t mention that name in my post. There are still a few childhood friends who call me, ‘Rusty.’ I’m comfortable now with “Willard.” A coming home–returning to making art after a nearly 40 year recess. This is what I’ve wanted to do since childhood, so it seems somehow appropriate to wear the name on my birth certificate. My thoughts in that post, were that the different names fit the different roles and personae I wear. Willard is an artist. Jacob Russell is a pen name. Goby is the fool and trickster and sexual turncoat.

    How boring to go through one’s whole life with the same name.

    Liked by 1 person

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