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Tuesday
May162017

Try This: Where I'm From

 

Get out your pen and paper. Let's write!

Have you written a "Where I'm From" poem? For many young writers, this form is their first taste of writing poetry. The teacher passes out a template and the kids fill in the blanks to create their poem. 

Sounds like amateur hour, right? Yes, but stick with me. These poems are fun for all ages.

I recently attended a long and tedious professional conference (nothing to do with writing) and toward the end of the session the instructor handed out the tired old templates. I groaned but played along — and it turned out this short writing session was the best part of the day. 

So, yes, give it a try.  

 

Here's the template. Fill in the blanks: 

 

I am from _________________________
(specific ordinary item)

From _____________________________
(product name) 

and ______________________________ 
(product name)

I am from the _____________________
(home description)

I am from _________________________ 
(plant, flower, natural item)

I'm from __________________________
(family tradition) 

and ______________________________  
(family trait)

From _____________________________
(name of family member) 

and _______________________________ 
(another family name)

I'm from the ________________________ 
(description of family tendency)

and ________________________________ 
 (another one)

From _______________________________ 
(something you were told as a child)

and ________________________  (another)

I'm from _____________________________ 
(place of birth and family ancestry)

____________________________________ 
(a food item that represents your family)

____________________________________ 
(another one)

 

Feel free to condense, expand and rearrange your responses. Let this be the door that opens you to a poem. And then, let it take you even further. 

Poetry lore says this form was created in the 1990s by George Ella Lyon, Kentucky Poet Laureate 2015-2016.

"The process was too rich and too much fun to give up after only one poem," she explains on her website. "I decided to try it as an exercise with other writers, and it immediately took off. The list form is simple and familiar, and the question of where you are from reaches deep."

She offers this stellar advice:

"While you can revise (edit, extend, rearrange) your Where I'm From list into a poem, you can also see it as a corridor of doors opening onto further knowledge and other kinds of writing. The key is to let yourself explore these rooms. Don't rush to decide what kind of writing you're going to do or to revise or finish a piece. Let your goal be the writing itself. Learn to let it lead you."

 

Now, let's share. Here's my poem: 

 

Something will come

 

I'm from Capn’ Crunch and Brady Bunch

from Love Boat and Little House

from Sun-In summers and waffle-stomp winters.

 

I’m from peace signs and dusty ferns

from cigarettes and scotch, apples and wheat

from sickness and grit

 

I’m from apartments rattled by railroad noise

from long walks to school and swimming

at the neighborhood pool.

 

I’m from big eaters and hard workers

from Bart and Lucy, Margaret and Andre

and Cindra, best sister and friend.

 

From Oregon, Washington, California, Colorado,

from inner-west, left coast, city, suburb, and farm

from quiet talkers and white-knuckled independence

 

from something will come

and more is not always better.

 

- Drew Myron

 

 

Your turn. Where are you from? Please share your poem in the comments section. 

 

Reader Comments (2)

Perspectives

I am from a southwest past
from mountains and trailer parks,
from cactus and chiles and columbines
from sagebrush and snow and shame and guilt

I am from a frightening present
from Trump and chaos
from Putin and Assad and Kim Jong Il
from walls and racism and leaks and fear

I am from a bygone future
from Bradbury and Heinlein
from BASIC and DOS and Lotus 1-2-3
from Kirk and Solo and Reynolds and Sheridan

I am from a simpler time
from Skinny Minnie and Lyledy Dyledy
from Judy and Bruce and Tuffweetie
from Ralph Edwards and Dick Van Dyke and NBC and CBS

-- Stace Johnson

May 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterStace Johnson

Hi Stace.
" . . . from a bygone future" --- that's a great phrase!
Thanks for writing and sharing. :)

May 21, 2017 | Registered CommenterDrew Myron

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