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[Poetry Friday] The Story of “a girl named jack”

Name a girl Jack and people will look at her twice, my father said.

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Fats here.

Almost four years ago, Myra shared a collection of excerpts taken from Jacqueline Woodson’s award-winning book, Brown Girl Dreaming. While browsing through some poems from the Poetry Foundation, I came across another poem by Jacqueline Woodson. The poem—a girl named jack—happens to be in Brown Girl Dreaming as well. Whether you’ve read the book or not, I hope you take delight in Woodson’s way with words.

Poetry Friday is hosted this week by Amy at The Poem Farm!


a girl named jack

Good enough for me, my father said
the day I was born.
Don’t see why
she can’t have it, too.

But women said no.
My mother first.
Then each aunt, pulling my pink blanket back
patting the crop of thick curls
tugging at my new toes
touching my cheeks.

We won’t have a girl named Jack, my mother said.

And my father’s sisters whispered,
A boy named Jack is bad enough.
But only so my mother could hear.
Name a girl Jack, my father said,
and she can’t help but
grow up strong.
Raise her right, my father said,
and she’ll make that name her own.
Name a girl Jack
and people will look at her twice, my father said.

For no good reason but to ask if her parents
were crazy, my mother said.

And back and forth it went until I was Jackie
and my father left the hospital mad.

My mother said to my aunts,
Hand me that pen, wrote
Jacqueline where it asked for a name.
Jacqueline, just in case
someone thought to drop the ie.

Jacqueline,  just in case
I grew up and wanted something a little bit longer
and further away from
Jack.

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