Where I Am From
During one writing class I took, the teacher challenged us to write a “Where I Am From” poem.
At the beginning I was a little skeptical, because she gave us a template to write the poem, based off of Where I’m From by George Ella Lyon. I thought, “Who writes poetry off of a template?”
But after doing the exercise, I changed my mind. It was an eye-opening experience taking a deep look into my identity. I think everyone should have a “Where I’m From” poem.
The “Where I’m From” template has become pretty popular with writing teachers. It’s structured, but allows plenty of room for creativity. You may have seen it before, but in case you want to try your own “Where I’m From” poem, here is the template.
I am from ______________________________
(specific ordinary item)
From ______________________ and ________________________
(product name) (product name)
I am from the _____________________________________________
___________________ , _________________ , ____________________
(adjective) (adjective) (sensory detail)
I am from _________________________________________ ,
(plant, flower, natural item)
(description of above item)
I’m from ________________________ and ________________________
(family tradition) (family trait)
From ___________________________ and _________________________
(name of family member) (another family name)
I’m from the ___________________________ and ____________________
(description of family tendency) (another one)
From _________________________________ and _____________________
(something you were told as a child) (another)
I’m from __________________________ , ___________________________
(representation of religion or lack of), (further description)
I’m from _______________________________________________
(place of birth and family ancestry)
_______________________________ , ___________________________
(a food item that represents your family) (another one)
From the _____________________________________________________
(specific family story about a specific person and detail)
(another detail of another family member)
(location of family pictures, mementos, archives)
(line explaining the importance of family items)
My Own “Where I’m From” Poem
My own “Where I’m From” poem, despite being written from a template, is one of my favorite creations.
Because it’s me.
I am from red clay,
From fertilizer and lime.
I am from the wood stove pedestaled in the corner,
Black, ashy, the heat like a mother’s hug.
I am from tulip trees,
The sweetgum where I crawled into my perch between the three wrinkly trunks.
I’m from summer hikes and long hair,
From Crystal and Daniel,
I’m from the minivan trips and Rook battles,
From “sounds like a personal problem” and “better than snuff, and not half as dusty.”
I’m from playing violin barefoot with the worship team, from laughing with my family at the pastor in his blue jeans.
I’m from Alamance and the Scotch-Irish,
Canned green beans and charcoal-grilled hamburgers.
From my father scaling a volcano in New Zealand,
The grass that grew in my mother’s mud-stained car when she worked in the marshes.
The albums in the basement are from a time before I existed,
When my parents said their vows atop a burl in the Redwood forest,
I am from these people,
These two souls who decided to make a home together.