What’s in a Pen Name?

Some writers are confident writing under their own name while some opt for a pen name, like Mary Anne Evans who became George Eliot. There are many reasons for using pen names. Do you feel comfortable writing under your own name? Or do you think a different name would sound more exotic, more in keeping with the type of stories you tell?

I’ve never felt a need to write under a different name, mostly because my name is my identity. Although I tend to write from different perspectives and view points both fiction and poetry I wouldn’t feel comfortable using a different name. It would feel like being someone else, or like being in character. But that’s just me.

Other writers may have various considerations. It could also be quite exciting. Getting a pen name is like reinventing yourself.

Would you write under a pen name and where would you go to look for a name? What  would you consider when looking for a pen name? How do you select a pen name and where can you find names? Read this interesting article here about selecting pen names.

 

There are both artistic and practical considerations in choosing a pen name. (Image via Bigstock/Vima)

Iowa Online Writing Summer – Power of the Pen: Identities and Social Issues in fiction, nonfiction, poetry and plays

Two courses coming up this summer.

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On May 15, 2017, the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa will open Power of the Pen: Identities and Social Issues in Fiction and Nonfiction, a free massive open online course. This creative writing MOOC will focus on writing about identities, communities, and social issues in fiction and nonfiction. There is no cost to enroll; registration is completely free for all participants. No writing experience is required. This MOOC welcomes writers of all communities and identities.  

COURSE OVERVIEW

This MOOC will:

  • Encourage you to write both fiction and nonfiction
  • Encourage you to explore the intersections between these two genres
  • Encourage you to explore the intersections of individual, community, and global identities
  • Encourage you to examine the effect of current social issues on individual, community, and global identities
  • Foreground the principles of short and long-form fiction
  • Foreground the principles of three forms of nonfiction: literary journalism, memoir essay, and personal essay
  • Support your experience of creative and cultural exchange with writers around the world!
COURSE PROFESSORS

Professors Christopher Merrill and Venise Berry will lead you through this course. Christopher Merrill is Director of the International Writing Program and University of Iowa Professor of English; he has published six collections of poetry, five works of nonfiction, and many works of translation. His new work Still Life with Dogwood has just been published. Venise Berry is Associate Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Iowa; she is the author of four novels as well as four books on African-American representation in film.

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On July 17, 2017, the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa will open Power of the Pen: Identities and Social Issues in Poetry and Plays, a free massive open online course. This creative writing MOOC will focus on writing about identities, communities, and social issues in poetry and plays. There is no cost to enroll; registration is completely free for all participants. No writing experience is required. This MOOC welcomes writers of all communities and identities.

COURSE OVERVIEW

This MOOC will:

  • Encourage you to experiment in both poetry writing and playwriting
  • Encourage you to explore the intersections between these two genres
  • Encourage you to explore the intersections of individual, community, and global identities
  • Encourage you to examine the effect of current social issues on individual, community, and global identities
  • Foreground the principles of writing poetry and plays
  • Support your experience of creative and cultural exchange with writers around the world!
COURSE PROFESSORS

Professors Christopher Merrill and Lisa Schlesinger will lead you through this course. Christopher Merrill is Director of the International Writing Program and University of Iowa Professor of English; he has published six collections of poetry, five works of nonfiction, and many works of translation. His new work Still Life with Dogwood has just been published. Lisa Schlesinger is Associate Professor at the Playwrights Workshop at the University of Iowa; her plays include Celestial Bodies, Wal-martyrs, Same Egg, Manny and Chicken, Rock Ends Ahead, The Bones of Danny Winston, and Twenty-One Positions.

 

Women Rise – Making Movie Poems

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I launched my crowdfunding campaign to make movie poems today on indiegogo. The poems selected are from my soon to be released poetry collection about women. The 5 poems selected are diverse in theme and are representative of the poetry in the collection.

Join me in bringing these poems to life by funding the campaign. There great perks on offer. Also share the information with anyone interested in funding the campaign.

 

 

 

(Photo courtesy of Warna Hettiarachchi)

The Way It Is

We can’t sing certain songs
that speak of our glorious past or our
identity. We are shamed. Tunes
hummed softly to walls that sometimes listen but
don’t record words barely coherent they
brush cheeks against hard surfaces
and sigh to winds passing outside. We
can’t be proud of our
history, the long winding road
of deeds that made us who we
are, those many, many years of development,
innovation, education,
love for humanity and the land we
live in, the great strides we
took into the future that brought us
here where we are, right now. We
are ridiculed, made to feel stupid, those years
slowly erased from memory one word at a time,
dissected, analyzed and thrown away as
not being worth a cent. Our
history. My history that sleeps crammed tight
inside cupboards, imprisoned behind glass
walls in a white man’s home, forgotten, yearning to
return but held back by words agreed with
forced signatures while mothers watched
their infants balanced on swords. We
aren’t allowed to practice our beliefs, our
religion of non-violence. We
are looked down as being inferior practicing an
ancient wisdom they claim has no place
in this new world order rolling in. Everything is being
re-written to suit the white man
somewhere. We
are forced to accept the white man’s ways
and beliefs, his lifestyle, his food filled with things
that harm our bodies. We
are persuaded to sell our values, our businesses,
infrastructure, money making properties that are
made to look as disasters, failures in our
incapable hands, handed over to foreigners with
no idea of their true worth, to appease
buffoons in political power. We watch helpless as our
lands, those many tufts of earth that make up
this place we call home, nurtured with the blood of
warriors that died to save it for a future,
are torn up, lines drawn for
ownership claimed from foreign shores.
Slowly, slowly we
change, turn once again to become slaves to
whiteness this time not controlled with
guns held against us
but through agreements signed in cold climes
behind hushed doors. We
are compelled to obey the rules
follow the oil man’s religion. Shroud our
women in darkness. Our
words are twisted like vines, tied up,
strangled. Simple meanings deconstructed, what we
meant is portrayed as something negative, ugly,
best left unsaid thrown into the gutter. We
become nothing. Beaten up our
backs curved in surrender aged beyond our
years. Coerced
into submission to the white master
oil master coming in different clothes, speaking
through different tongues sliced in two, sugar
coated to please
controlling through regional bullies,
political prophets and
religious puppets, money exercising utmost
authority while debauchery reigns,
reigns, reigns and thugs party with not a care in
the world and the police cheer and the public
cry foul and no one listens for ears
hide inside potholes and words roll in the dirt
desperately waiting for the rains.

© 2016 Shirani Rajapakse