Two authors from different cultures ask, “What is in a name?” The Irish poet Eavan Boland and the Puerto Rican playwright/poet Nancy Mercado conclude that the answer is of fundamental importance in defining one’s existence.
In her essay, “Lava Cameo,” Eavan Boland asks, “Was there really no name for my life [as an ordinary woman] in poetry?” Her search for her late grandmother helps Boland validate her “femaleness” in an otherwise largely male Irish literary tradition.
In her concluding essay to the collection What’s in a Nombre? Nancy Mercado states, “Naming is the spiritual act of living beyond the moment, of signifying something beyond the instant ….”
In both instances, each author reclaims the right to name herself and her work apart from the prevailing hegemony of gender and/or culture. In Nancy Mercado’s words, “The act of naming is rebellious; it is the expression of power over a thing or over someone ….”
It is also an affirming act. As Eavan Boland says, “I had written poems. Now I would have to enter them.”
In a perhaps less consequential way, I have renamed this blog. My literary name Judith Mercado now takes precedence over the previous title of Pilgrim Soul. This is a defining act signifying renewed focus on my literary life. I will always be a pilgrim soul, seeking and learning. This blog, however, will now focus primarily on Judith Mercado as a short story author, novelist, poet, and essayist.