My father calls it “The Name Game” and it’s a Nova Scotian custom.
Years ago, when I lived in rural Ngapuke, New Zealand, I answered a knock on the door by a stranger on a dark winter night.
“Are you Antony Millen?” the young man asked through the space guarded by the door’s chain lock.
“Yes,” I answered, dubiously.
“From Westville, Nova Scotia?” the young fellow added.
“Yes.” I drew out the word with less suspicion and more anticipation.
He responded by telling me his name and adding, “My mother is friends with your grandmother.”
“Oh well then!” I exclaimed, unhooking the chain. “Come in and have a cup of tea!”
For the next hour, the man and I sat in my kitchen swapping names of people we knew, attempting to make further connections, bridge gaps between distance and age. Ironically, we couldn’t name another person we knew in common! However, I’ve often thought of that night as an example of how we connect with others – it’s who you know.
Māori know the power in this as well. Swapping genealogies between hosts and visitors on the marae is a major feature of their powhiri – their welcoming protocol. Before you take the chain lock off the gate, let’s first establish who’s wanting in.
The Weekend Name Drop is my variation on this custom. I enjoy sharing who I know with others and, particularly for the purposes of my blog, sharing the creative exploits of writers, artists, musicians and others whom I have met in person or online. In a way, this is not a new thing. Many of my reviews and posts here have included people I know from elementary school and university days or from new contacts I’ve made in the literary world. The Weekend Name Drop is my way of continuing this, but in a format that doesn’t require the time it takes to write a comprehensive review.
Here’s how it will work: Each weekend, I will profile a creative person I know using a template that includes things like:
- How I met them
- Their creative exploits
- Reasons I find them inspiring
- Why others should check them out
- Sample of their work (passage of writing, music video)
- Links to their online platforms (websites, social media accounts)
- Links to any significant news articles
The people I select will not need to be involved in any way. I will only select those who have an online presence and would hopefully appreciate a plug they might share with others. I won’t be taking requests for profiles as I already have a list of over 52 people which gives me a year’s worth.
My aim is to add one profile each weekend for 2016 (sometime between Friday evening and Sunday evening New Zealand time). After the year is up, I’ll decide whether I should keep going.
The title, “Weekend Name Drop” is also a play on the practice of dropping names of significant connections into our conversations as if by doing so we can elevate our status in the eyes our listener. So, tongue-in-cheek, I freely admit that I hope this will bring more traffic to my website. But overall, I hope it will be a bit of fun for me, those profiled and anyone else who follows my blog and writing. I also must give credit to author ZR Southcombe whose regular blog feature, Monday Musings, got me thinking of ways to regularly, yet simply, add interesting content to my blog.
First profile on the Weekend Name Drop: Check back this weekend!