Sunday, May 09, 2004

on names: my name, for these parts of the forest, Sacramento, is
very, very common: Richard Lopez. just this afternoon at the grocery store a friendly clerk always teases me by saying very slowly, Howdy Mr Lopez! it seems her boss has the same name.

the attraction of names is of course subjective. yesterday afternoon I had coffee with the poet James Den Boer and his wife Leah. we talked of our current reading, current writing, and the sounds of names. he mentioned a writer he thinks rather good, Jen Hofer. I agree she is quite good, and she has, to my ear, a wonderful name, solid, no nonsense, yet musical kind of name.

what's in a name? everything, I suppose but not quite. I think Jeff Clark is a very cool name, but someone else may think not. Ted Berrigan, whom I've always thought a wonderful writer, is also a very cool name. and of course I'm attracted to writers who have similar last names: there is for Jeff Clark, Tom Clark, and speaking of poetic Clarks there is of course, Clark Coolidge. Jen is an abbreviation for Jennifer, a common enough name for women born in the 1960s and 1970s. that doesn't detract from its beauty, at least for me.

I find when I read a journal online or in print I turn to names that sound most pleasing to my ear. but then there are names that grow on me. and I turn to those as well. exotic names, or plain, each writer finds him/herself a textual creature with the same name. and at first glance that name, the same one we live with everyday, may look and sound like an alien species. who is this Richard Lopez that has my name as well? for surely those poems I remember writing now in print no longer belong to me. they've become a different thing from those stages of composition to publication, and if lucky the poems might return the favor of being okay to other readers and wear the name of the writer like a good fitting coat.

and as for my name, eh? I recall walking home from work and seeing a street person about a block away mumbling to himself walking straight toward me. as I got closer he looked up and exclaimed Richard! (half-beat pause) Gere! I was slightly unerved wondering how he knew my name before I heard the second part. I don't think I look like the actor at all, perhaps the only thing Gere and I have in common is salt-and-pepper hair, though what the hell do I know, I can't see myself as others see me. but most street people I see going to and from work are local denizens that I have seen dozens of times. and they have seen me, for I must have the nickname Richard Gere among them cuz another time a different street person said, Hi Richard Gere as I walked past him.


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