Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Writing Project--Where I'm From

    In my workshop with the Milwaukee Writing Project, one of the presenters brought this powerful lesson for us to experience.  She used the poem "Where I'm From" by George Ella Lyon as a mentor text and had us brainstorm and write our own poems using that format.  I had tried this lesson before in my classroom, but did not do the work of experiencing it as a writer.  Needless to say it was not as successful as I had hoped it would be because I did not know what the hurdles would be for my students.   What a powerful experience writing this poem was.  I think that I would end up with a different poem every time I sat down to write.  So many small moments and experiences came back to me once I started writing.  I will definitely do this activity in my classroom this Fall and I know it will be much more successful because I now know how I need to support my students to make this writing accessible to them.

I had a chance for a quick first draft and now have gone back to revise it.  Here is the second draft of my poem (I would welcome any feedback):

I am from campfires,
from s’mores and lake swimming. 
I am from singing and baring
our souls in the moonlight.

I am from pop-up campers and motorhomes
From walking the dog through camp.
I am from wild raspberry sundaes
and Shish-ka-bobs on the grill.

I am from road trips
and stops along the way to Florida.
I am from visits to old friends
and arriving at Sea-Oats.

I am from drives with 
the sunroof open, blasting
Peter, Paul, and Mary.
I am from worry and pain.
Clutching chests and pacemakers

I am from don’t-stress-your-dad-out 
and don’t-worry-I’m-fine.
From reading in the dark with a flashlight
or hanging from my bed to get 
light from the hall.

I am from used book sales
and Nancy Drew
I am from Agatha Christie 
and The Adventures of Treehorn.

I am from cocktail hour with my Grandparents.
From liver sausage and cherries doled out 
from Brandy Manhattans. 
From 4th of July picnics at their house 
and weeks spent in Florida at their condo.
From Turkey loaf on Thanksgiving
with ice cream roll for dessert.

I am from marathon Monopoly 
that lasted all weekend.
I am from muted baseball games
and eating ice cream past my bedtime.

I am from The Music Man and Grease
from performances big and small.
I am from Little Mermaid and Dirty Dancing.
From belting out the songs with my sister.

I am from Sundays at church 
and midnight services on Christmas.
From youth group and choir
and funeral services too young.
I am from panic and loss 
From relationships strengthened
by tragedy. 

These defining moments wrap 
around me and give 
me the person 
who I am today.

I am from love 
I am from pain
I am from family. 


  1. Wow, this poem is wrapped with emotions and very vivid descriptions. After reading yours, I had to read the original! This is a very powerful activity! I would love to try this with my students after completing my own. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Wonderful. Just wonderful. Poignant and sharp, I smelled the smoke and tasted the cocktails. It begs to be shared with your students!