Writing assignment #3 for our narrative poem class was this:
Write out your full name. Research the meaning of your name (which can include any or all of the following: your nickname, first name, middle name, surname, and/or mother’s maiden name if you use it). If possible, interview someone in your family of origin about the story behind your name. Write a poetic sequence called “How I Got That Name.”
I struggled. My first and middle names are derived from the same name, Hannah, which means grace or mercy. My last name, like so many Irish surnames? Put in the missing O and of course, you get “son of the” (in my case) red-haired man. But it turns out the name Nancy is quite the topic of discussion in the user-created Urban Dictionary as well—I'm sure these are because of the very beguiling Nancy Botwin character on the Showtime series, Weeds, played by Mary-Louise Parker!
Here are some sources/definitions:
NANCY. Origin early 20th cent.: nickname for the given name Ann. Either a typically English metathesis of Anne or a variant of Agnes, perhaps influenced by the Italian Nanna, a diminutive of Anna. ‘A gipsy name’ remarks Charles Williams in his Tarot novel, The Greater Trumps, 1932.
—Eric Partridge, A Dictionary of Traditional First Names
NANCY. a male homosexual. From the female name. Originally as Miss Nancy and then as nancy boy.
—R.W. Holder. A Dictionary of Euphemisms
NANCY. A rare beauty who’s extremely smart and has a love for life. The definition of a great lover. She is an amazing and beautiful girl. Men easily fall for her. She has astounding sex appeal by nature. She has gorgeous green eyes and a breath-taking smile! She is fun, random, and sweet. You may find yourself addicted! If you have the fortune of falling in love with a Nancy, your life will be forever fulfilled. Damn that girl’s a Nancy! —February 5, 2010 entry, www.urbandictionary.com
FLYNN is a surname of Irish origin. It is an Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Floinn ‘descendant of Flann’, a byname meaning ‘red (dish)’, ‘ruddy’. —Wikipedia
2. (also metathesis reaction) Chemistry a reaction in which two compounds exchange ions, typically with precipitation of an insoluble product. Also called double decomposition.
—Oxford English Dictionary
So I played around with all of that. And ended up with one wild and crazy ride of a poem. Which begins:
The Gypsy Exchanges Ions with the Son of the Red-Haired Man
Miss Nancy shuffles the deck,
slaps down the spread,
more swords and cups
beside the Lovers and the Fool.
If sparks could fly,
this nancy boy would flee,
red dish digging
to trump his gypsied nights.
Instead there’s a handshake,
followed by that iconic lift
of a brow—it’s how you know
you’re in like Flynn.