Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Where I'm From

at Two Writing Teachers!
This Saturday is the annual Alumni Band Reunion, where over 500 alumni will come back to march on the field at Ohio Stadium "just one more time".  It's a week full of fun, friends, and LOTS of hard work... just like my 5 years in TBDBITL!

Unfortunately, right now that means squeezing marching practice, full band rehearsals, and music memorization into my already overcrowded-with-schoolwork schedule.  (Sorry kids, you're going to have to wait just a little longer than usual to get those assignments back!)

However, I just couldn't miss out on writing this week!  Last week, my Intermediate and Advanced student wrote their own "Where I'm From" poems, modeled after the original by George Ella Lyon. As I try to do with any major assignment, I wrote my own first and shared my writing process with them as we worked through the process in class.

We got our brains going with a 3 minute freewrite on "home" and then expanded to lists, since that's how George Ella Lyon said her poem took shape.
Students: "How long did that take you?!"  Me: "About 45 min. I just got going..."
I think I need to write a few more poems, because there were so many things I wanted to write about that just didn't fit into the poem!  Maybe I'll write a new one each year?  :-)

Anyway, here's what I ended up with:

"Where I'm From" (based on the original poem by George Ella Lyon)

I am from bicycles,
from Legos and fuzzy stuffed friends.
I am from balancing on fallen logs.
(My muddy pink shoes
following Daddy's huge footsteps.)
I am from cherry trees
filling flaky pies,
portulaca who slept and awakened 
like faithful friends.

I'm from raspberries and neon bows,
from Ann, Wade, and Joshie Dave.
I'm from the engineers
and the poem-keepers,
from "Be a Marine" and "Hum a little, Marion."
I'm from How Great Thou Art,
soaring handbells and squirming choirs
and Silent Night with glowing candles aloft.

I'm from the Oval and the Shoe,
simmering spaghetti sauce and steaming Nani Soup.
From my Grandaddy's shuffling limp, a bullet
buried in his spine,
to the coiled fawn on my brother's grave.

Smiles shine out of thick blue albums,
bookshelves boast tattered storytime edges.
A puzzle piece of crinkly eyes,
Sweet Pea with a swinging golden braid.
Warm hugs and laughter light my path.

It was a blast sharing my writing with my students, and they did an amazing job with their poems.  I hope to share some of their special lines with you soon!  (Like, after I make it through this week!)


  1. I am using the original poem with my freshman writers tomorrow. Yours would be great to share as well.
    Your students must have been inspired!

  2. What a wonderful poem I am going to use the original poem with my grad students later this month but I will share your version too as inspiration.

  3. Thank you for sharing with us. The second to last stanza touched me. I will carry those images with me.

    Enjoy your weekend!

  4. Love your poem!That is one of my favorites to use as a mentor. Yours revealed so much of who you are. I bet your students loved discovering bits of your life, as you will when you read their poems. Awesome! Have a great time at the band reunion, that's so cool!

  5. It's really beautiful, Jennifer. I can see from your lists that you could include so much more, yet I think you got it just about enough. I loved reading it & looking at the 'unknowns', like "Hum A Little Marion", wondering what story that would be. You have so many stories here, just in this poem! Great stuff. And thank you!

  6. I loved reading your poem. My favorite line - " warm hugs and laughter light my path."
    Thank you for sharing.

  7. What a great assignment! There is so much depth about your story in those few words of your example.

  8. I will never cease to love reading I am From poems. Thanks for sharing yours.


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