Since I saw my birth certificate for the first time in the summer between 8th and 9th grade, I've been introducing myself as JodiAnn which is my real, first name. I never knew until then that my name wasn't just "Jodi" which is what everyone called me. When I asked my mother why she named me "JodiAnn," she explained that she took the first letters of her sisters' and mother's name to make my name. Joanna. Diana. Anita... Jo-Di-An -- JodiAnn. "Jodi" suddenly felt like a dishonoring of my mother who wanted to give me such a meaningful name and of my grandmother who was left out in the shortening. Beyond that, I had discovered something a little special about myself; a little different. In the early 1980s, there were so many Jodis around my age. "Jodi" always felt generic and boring to me. As an artsy, creative kid with a big imagination and big, weird dreams, discovering my real name felt like a piece of magic. I was attracted to the difference and the creative play in the name JodiAnn. And so I tried to make it stick -- and it did with many people, in some circles.
Still, MOST people I meet (especially cis, hetero, white folks) immediately shorten my name to "Jodi." When I moved back to Michigan, I noticed this behavior was ESPECIALLY prevalent. And, when I correct people or ask them to say JodiAnn, many Michiganders look almost pained when they say it. I've noticed that when I travel to the East or West Coast or bigger cities in the midwest, people nicknaming me "Jodi" all on their own is less likely to happen. My interpretation of that is that those folks are more likely to meet all kinds of people from all different cultures and are in the habit of paying attention to the actual sound of someone's real name and repeating it back correctly. There's also a strong element in Michigan (maybe Midwest) culture that rejects things that seem "uppity." We tend to dislike people who act "too big for their britches" or really have high self esteem at all. We reward humility to a fault, particularly in women. And, "JodiAnn," I suspect -- and even more so, INSISTING on being called "JodiAnn" seems uppity AF to some folks.
My name is JodiAnn. Yes, occasionally if I'm placing a book on hold at the library or ordering a pizza, I'll give the person behind the counter the shortened version. And, yes, MANY friends of mine -- especially the oldest, dearest ones -- get away with calling me Jodi (and much worse) regularly. I still love when my nieces and nephews call me "Aunt Jodi" -- though I REALLY love the nickname that some of them have adopted -- AJA (from Aunt JodiAnn) and that I've even been made a G'AJA by some of them! But unless you've sat around my kitchen table, laughed hysterically with me, cried on my shoulder, or allowed me to cry on yours, PLEASE call me JodiAnn (NOT Jodi).
About JodiAnn Stevenson
JodiAnn Stevenson lives in the U.S., in the Northwest Corner of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, on The Big Lake. Her writing has appeared in numerous venues since 1996. She is the author of three published chapbooks of poetry: The Procedure (March Street Press, 2006); Houses Don’t Float (Habernicht Press, 2010); and Diving Headlong Into A Cliff of Our Own Delusion (Saucebox, 2011). Her mixed-genre work Marina Abramovic Is My Mother is available in the form of a short-run podcast. She has also produced eight chapbooks of poetry for The Broken Nose Collective which she co-founded in 2013. JodiAnn was founder and co-managing editor of the feminist micro-press, Binge Press and its sister journal, 27 rue de fleures, from 2004 until 2017.
A (more or less) complete list of publications and appearances: