Writers Amabel Kylee Síorghlas and Jaquelyn Fernandez Rieke are creating and publishing an anthology—A Tiny Death: Stories of Identity and Transformation Through Chosen Names. We seek original creative nonfiction essays, poems, and B&W art about the decision to change one’s given name—first, middle, or last name (or all three)—as well as the outcome of implementing the change concerning shifts in identity and within the social realm.
We seek diverse voices to share poignant stories of choosing a new name—to better suit personality or life purpose, to fully inhabit gender or sexual identity, to assimilate into a new culture, as a rite of passage and personal growth, for spiritual purposes, for activist reasons, or for love and marriage … the reasons for choosing a new name are vast and deep, wrought with intense introspection, leading to significant personal transformation.
Our names have power. Our names open doors for us or slam them shut. Whether we like it or not, our names draw conscious and unconscious judgments from the people we meet—in the classroom, the workplace, online, and in personal relationships. Words signify moods, tones, and images. Names have ENERGY, for good or for bad. It follows that these associations shape our thinking about other people as identified by their names and about ourselves in connection with our own names.
The current assumption in Western society is that the name you are given at birth is your name, end of story, no matter what, as fixed as eye color or blood type. Yet a name, being a word, is a movable signifier, a signpost that could, if one has compelling reason and guts, be plucked from the ground and replaced. Choosing a new name for oneself, for whatever reason, can elicit a major psychological shift, profound and far-reaching in self-identification and symbolic meaning.
There is a correlation between liberty and names. The amount of power given over one’s own name—to wield, change and declare it—speaks to the reach of individual liberties in any given society at any given point of history. Modern Western society, whether on purpose or just accidentally through lack of narrative representation, appears to discourage, often through dismissal and ridicule, its members from claiming names for themselves, obscuring the path of authentic being.
Through this anthology project, we hope to open up dialogue about names and identity, to expose constricting cultural taboos and normalize what is normal to expand cultural tolerance for personal truth.
How to submit: Please visit our Submittable site here: https://chosennames.submittable.com/submit
Amabel Kylee Síorghlas has an MFA in poetry from Vermont College of Fine Arts (UI&U) and is a longtime writer and educator. Jaquelyn Fernandez Rieke is an entrepreneur, activist, and poet.