Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Where I'm From

A few weeks ago, I attempted to face my fear of writing poetry after Anna Gratz Cockerille encouraged slicers to create their own rendition of the "The Good Old Days", using Ralph Fletcher's original poem as a mentor text.  After getting my feet wet with that poem, my supervising teacher for my TESOL field experience (and the one who inspired me to start blogging with the Slice of Life community) introduced me to another great mentor text for poetry: "Where I'm From" by George Ella Lyon.

In light of it being National Poetry Month and the  fact that I just spent the last 5 days with my wonderful family in my childhood home, today seems like the perfect day to compose my own "Where I'm From" poem. To create my work, I used both the original poem and my supervising teacher's poem as mentor texts.

To be honest, I have been working on this poem sporadically for a couple of weeks and am just now putting the "final" touches on it (though I'm not sure I will ever be completely finished revising it). As I composed it, I found myself wondering if the most personal poems are the hardest to publish. I struggled to know which descriptions of "Where I'm From" to include and it pained me to leave some of them behind. Even today, my fingers hesitate as they hover over the "Publish" button on my screen, listening to the doubts in my mind of whether or not my poem is "ready."

Like many of my previous posts, creating this one has, I believe, prepared me in a small way for my future life as an ESL teacher. I have been reminded of how personal our writing can be and of the hesitancy writers may face as they prepare to share their work with others. Today, I am able to try my hand at poetry and attempt to describe "Where I'm From" with the Slice of Life community because there is a pre-exiting relationship there characterized by trust and a lack of judgement. I know that what I write does not have to be the best...it just needs to be my best right now. As I reflect on this, I am inspired to take active measures to create this same sense of community in my future classroom in order to help my students blossom into confident writers. I know that it won't come easily, but it is certainly a goal worth pursuing! Perhaps in the future, I will be able to tell them "Where I'm From" and listen to them share their own stories with me.
Where I’m From 

I am from bicycles,
from hiking boots and family-sized camping tents.
I am from the motor boat on “Grandpa’s Lake.”
(Wrinkled and wet, my fingers
wore the effects of swimming all day long.)
I am from mounds of white snow
piled high 
outside a grey brick house,
the perfect building blocks for snow day forts.

I am from tea parties and Happy Hunters,
carousels and Spiedies,
       from Aud and Zig.
I’m from the cyclists
       and the mini-golfers,
from Why worry when you can pray?
I’m from Say 3 nice things about your sister!
       with ridiculous responses
       that ended our fights in giggles.

I’m from Buttermilk Falls and Jones’ Humdinger,
beautiful gorges and ice cream cones with jimmies.
From Beanie Babies and Precious Moments,
       given by my Aunt Mary
whose memory lives strong in my heart.

Around the dinner table
my family shares our memories
with stories and laughter.
They abide in my heart,
bringing me back
to where I’m from
whenever it seems far away.


  1. I think this is perfect! It truly hold so many great stories of where you are from and what has made you YOU. I'm glad you jumped in and tried it and then shared it this week. If we do not show our vulnerability, how will our students? How will they take risks and just try? Your reflection shows your learning and growth. I think it is your best right now and I hope you share it with your family (especially your sister!). I may have to try that little trick with my daughters: Say 3 nice things...

  2. I love that you have had this wonderful life. You have been blessed. I also, a generation ahead was lucky to have the same type of experiences. I also was from a giant, 3 room tent and snow mounds surrounding a brick house. Your personal attempt was beautiful to behold. xo