The poem, Where I’m From by George Ella Lyons is powerful! It is a literary snapshot of the poet’s most memorable images of her childhood. Through her text, she takes the reader on a journey to show them who she was as a child and who she is today. Educators, activists, psychologists, and others have used Ms. Lyons’ poem as a writing exercise for all ages. Let’s have some fun with it!
The Original Poem
Here is the original Where I’m From poem by teacher, poet, and author, George Ella Lyons. You can learn more about Ms. Lyons, her poetry, books, presentations, and a collaborative Where I’m From Project that aims to stamp out hate on her website here: George Ella Lyons.
WHERE I'M FROM I am from clothespins, from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride. I am from the dirt under the back porch. (Black, glistening, it tasted like beets.) I am from the forsythia bush the Dutch elm whose long-gone limbs I remember as if they were my own.
I'm from fudge and eyeglasses,
from Imogene and Alafair.
I'm from the know-it-alls
and the pass-it-ons,
from Perk up! and Pipe down!
I'm from He restoreth my soul
with a cottonball lamb
and ten verses I can say myself.
I'm from Artemus and Billie's Branch,
fried corn and strong coffee.
From the finger my grandfather lost
to the auger,
the eye my father shut to keep his sight.
Under my bed was a dress box spilling old pictures, a sift of lost faces to drift beneath my dreams. I am from those moments-- snapped before I budded -- leaf-fall from the family tree. —by George Ella Lyons
Here’s my attempt
WHERE I’M FROM I am from cardboard box rockets, from books and unicycles. I am from a tumble-down shack, white paint peeling, a kitchen floor perfect for hopscotch on winter days. I am from the ancient elm outside my window whose leaves waved “come play” like a good friend- now gone. I am from bare feet and grand forts built in the summer heat, from grandfathers, Ralph, and Mike. I am from half-truths and whole lies, from missed opportunities and possibilities. I am from the produce box my father carried on his shoulder, from a kaleidoscope of vegetables for dinner. I am from a grandmother who had twelve children and little time for poetry, and from birds of prey perched on my father’s fist. Each week, the bookmobile delivered a new adventure tucked between pages. I am from these moments— the good, the bad, and the in-between that both tethered me and gave me wings. © 2021 Danna Smith at poetrypop.com all rights reserved
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
You can use the template below if you want a little help writing a Where I’m From poem. This interactive template walks you through the lines of a Where I’m from poem through prompts. Easy-peasy!
Just fill in the form with your words; when finished, the interactive template will put your words into a poem format for you (or you can retype it in the original format as I did). Try to use details and expand on the prompted words with descriptions. Dig deep and really let your reader know where you are from. When you get to the bottom of the template—just click “create.” But don’t worry; you’ll have a chance to make changes if needed (use the back arrow in your web browser, make changes, and click “create” again).
tHANKS FOR POPPING IN
I love comments! Please let me know if you enjoyed this writing exercise. And Follow the blog for a weekly pop of poetry. Next week we will have fun with #pandemicpoetry (haiku), one of my favorite forms.
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Here’s a visual example of the template. You can download the full, interactive template here: I Am From Poem – Freeology