I’m three months pregnant and my husband and I disagree about whether or not we should learn the sex of the baby. He wants to be surprised when I give birth, but I want to find out at our next ultrasound. What should we do? — New Mom


Why am I getting all these maternity questions?! Is the word out that I’m pregnant, too? My family jokes that this column should be called “Ask a Pregnant Poet.”  Well, here’s what my gut instinct says: If you want to know the sex of your baby, you have every right. For your husband’s benefit, keep it a secret from him, hide any revealing ultrasound shots and don’t buy any gendered baby clothes, blankets or equipment. Problem solved.

But if that doesn’t sound fun — and… More…


I’m having a baby this year. What name or names would a poet recommend? — Ana

Well, a big congratulations to you!  I would say that, in general, poets consider the four M’s when deciding on a name: match, meaning, musicality, and meter, and not necessarily in that order. Let me explain.

Match:  This is a name matched with another poet’s name, or a character’s name from a favorite poem.  I’m fond of Sweeney as a boy’s name, from Elliot’s “Sweeney and the Nightingales,” who also makes an appearance in “The Fire Sermon” in The Waste Land. Of course, I think Sweeney would work as a girl’s name, too, but my favorite girls names matched with a poet or poet character are Emily, after Dickinson, and Margaret, after the young child in Hopkin’s “Spring and Fall.”

Meaning: … More…