Shoulda Been _______

Week 2 – TEAM Englewood

This week we looked at Patricia Smith’s title poem from her latest collection “Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah” – the poem as well as the book explore Patricia’s upbringing in Chicago and the ways her parents – two very different people – shaped her identity. Jimi Savannah is the name her father wanted to give her and she feels it better represents who she actually is than the name her mother insisted on, Patricia Ann.

The workshop is to look at how your parents/guardians are different and from that history, think about the name you think you should have as a result. As with all my workshops, if they didn’t know their parents well enough to say, I encouraged them to make up fantastic and compelling lies.

We also used the poem as an opportunity to look at what poets do with stanzas. Here, the ideas in each stanza make it easy to tell them apart, and they build on each other like a thesis/antithesis/synthesis.

No Name

The name I wish I have is “Terrel”
I think the name fits me perfectly.
My dad’s name wasn’t Terrel
but people called him dat.

Tatiyana B.

My name is Tatiyana
because before I was born
my cousin on my daddy’s side
passed away so then my
mom and dad wanted to
name me after my cousin.

I want my name to be
Cathylana because one
day me and this girl was
in class and we came up
with Cathylana and I liked
the name so I want to be
named Cathylana.

I like my name because I’m
named after my cousin
but still want it to be changed.
I wish we can name our self.

Shonte J.

Shonte Daniquewa Centrella Jones.
The four names my mom put
together when I was born.
My first name comes from my
birth father. His name is really
Shonte. My first middle name
comes from my daddy who
took care of me all my life
even though he I wasn’t
his “real” daughter. My second
middle name comes from one
of my aunts who I rarely
see some times. Finally, my
last name comes from my
mother. She wanted to keep
the tradition of the family
name by beginning with me.

Niyahta Dior is what I prefer.
to be. Niyahta is the name
of the African princess who conquers

Racheal M.

The reason my mom named me that because she wanted me named after her, not my dad. Natalia, that’s the name he wanted to name me.

I want my name to be Storm. I just think that name is me. It’s meant for me because when I’m mad, I’m mad.

Zion D.

My name is Zion. I don’t
know where it came from. I just
know that my grandfather named
me. I like my name. It’s really
not a common name because I
don’t know too many people with that

I like my name
because it fits me. I like it
because my grandfather named
me and he died and I looked
up to him.

Most people try to call
me Zeon or Zyon.



“Writing poetry makes me feel like I can see myself, like I can see my reflection, but not in a mirror, in the world. I write and I know I can be reflected.”
-Oscar S.

“Writing poetry makes me feel free.”
-Buenda D.

“Writing poetry is like your best friend.”
-Jessica M.