Thursday, November 20, 2014

Template: Where I'm From

A poem by George Ella Lyon called "Where I'm From," has been around the internet for awhile, but I've never felt drawn to make the time to try it.

But then it was assigned to my son's English class, and I had to wonder why it never called to me. After talking to him about it, we saw all the directions an assignment like this could take. You could complete this like a driver's license application, or beat poetry night, you could be as abstract as a dream. That's it right there, how do you write about yourself?

Funny, serious, heartbreaking, a reporting of facts? Any way and as many ways that feel like you, you could write forever. The work is in taking yourself on. The pondering of you. 

The undeniable feature of writing your "Where I'm From" is that you realize no one can do it for you. You're the only one.

I encourage you to make the time for your "Where I'm From", like I did with mine here:
It is truly a moving experience. 

Where I'm From

I am from early morning voices humming in the dawn, from flowered aprons and wooden mortars and pestles.

I am from a house where the kitchen was home, small faces pressed against windows, breathing out steam to make our artist's canvas. 

I am from cumin, cilantro, coarse meal, ground fine by a garden's rock. 

I am from sad melodies and voices that break, from Lilias, and Rositas, and Anas and Marias.

I am from dreams brazenly spoken and sighs kept in silence. 

From the one who once held so much to starting anew. 

I am from time-worn beads grooved from prayer, from belief strong enough to break strands.  

I'm from stories of miracles told with a hush, from streets of cobbled bricks and the mountains beyond.

From an Abuela who held me, in arms that were never too full, too busy, too tired.

I am from pieces and bits, smudged faded scraps of her words, born in her soul and written by hands that swept my tears away into my curls.
Here is the basic Where I'm From template. *I'd love it if you tried it with your kids.  
I am from _______ (specific ordinary item), from _______ (product name) and _______.
I am from the _______ (home description... adjective, adjective, sensory detail).
I am from the _______ (plant, flower, natural item), the _______ (plant, flower, natural detail)
I am from _______ (family tradition) and _______ (family trait), from _______ (name of family member) and _______ (another family name) and _______ (family name).
I am from the _______ (description of family tendency) and _______ (another one).
From _______ (something you were told as a child) and _______ (another).
I am from (representation of religion, or lack of it). Further description.
I'm from _______ (place of birth and family ancestry), _______ (two food items representing your family).
From the _______ (specific family story about a specific person and detail), the _______ (another detail, and the _______ (another detail about another family member).
I am from _______ (location of family pictures, mementos, archives and several more lines indicating their worth).

* * *


  1. I've done this one twice: and I think it's time I did one again!

  2. You got it lady. We'll all answer over breakfast tomorrow.

    And then I will likely use the texts to rock Day 21 of NaBloPoWritMo. Because you made me.


  3. I love this template, I wrote mine a couple of years ago and it remains one of my favorite posts. Yours is beautiful!

  4. My son made a version of this poem in grade school and it is one of my greatest treasures.

  5. Wonderful! My kids did these as well and I treasure them It really let me know that all those little things we did together mattered to them.

  6. What a lovely poem. And I've never seen a template for a poem before!

  7. Beautiful poem. I put the template in a draft so that I can do it one of these NaBloPoMo days.

  8. Absolutely beautiful, Alexandra! One day I will ask my boy to make this too :)

  9. Elan: I have to read yours. It's a wonderful, pensive, exercise.
    Maureen : thank you, friend. I"d love to read yours.
    Naptime: Did you do it?
    Denise: I hope you do, it was very centering for me.
    Bright Precious: I wish there were more out there. I"ll have to search.
    Alison: I loved yours. It was such an example of the wonder of the internet and what it brings to our lives.
    Peyton:I know just what you mean.
    Bossy Betty: That is beautiful to know.

  10. Thank You.
    I shall use this at school w/ the students.
    Btw, Alexandra, I read your piece in My Other Ex & LOVED it. I've known women like her.

  11. Your poem is beautiful! I'm going to try this tonight, and if it works out, I'll post it on my own blog tomorrow. Thanks for the inspiration!

  12. Very cool indeed. I found this via Suheiry's blog - thanks for the template. I'm going to try it to see what comes out :)

  13. Lizzi R: I loved doing this, so very much.
    Suheiry: THANK YOU... I wan to see yours, too.
    My Inner Chick: THank you so much for reading. It was a very painful season in my life... one that I still feel when I see her.



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