Poetry Friday: Where I’m From

April 16th, 2010

This week’s Poetry Friday post involves a bit of a writing exercise. It comes from Jennifer Jacobson’s new book, No More “I’m Done!” She shares a year’s worth of mini lessons for primary writers, including this great poetry exercise:

On Hand: The poem “Where I’m From” by George Ella Lyon

Mini-Lesson: In this poem, George Ella Lyon shares specific details from her past that have helped to define her. Read the poem to students.  Model writing your own “I am from” poem, perhaps beginning with the concrete and including what others have said to you:

“I am from birch trees and chickadees
from dry your hair with the canister vacuum hose – reversed
I am from the Not now’s, Not here’s, You will never be’s
And do you expect yo be happy all the time” (yes)”

Invite students to write their own “I am from” poem. Suggest they draw first — the prewriting will help them pick out concrete details and “hear” the voices that are a part of their everyday lives.

Extension: Introduce other poems as scaffolding. You might use Paul Janeczkos’s book A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetric Forms (2005), which demonstrates twenty-nine forms, or simply choose a favorite poem and challenge student to write one using the same pattern.

So, where are you from? Leave your “I am from poem” in the comments section. The best one will receive a free copy of Jennifer’s book!

Entry Filed under: Poetry Friday

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sherry  |  April 16th, 2010 at 9:30 am

    I wrote my “where I am from” poem a few years ago and posted it here: http://www.semicolonblog.com/?p=692

    It is a good exercise for adults and for children.

  • 2. Lisa  |  April 16th, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Great exercise — I’ll have to do that myself . . . and I can see using it with my children’s writing students (both kids and adults).

  • 3. Laura Evans  |  April 16th, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    If I were a teacher, I would regularly recycle paper printed on one side only by cutting the 8.5″ x 11″ paper into quarters. Leave a pile on the end of the teacher’s desk. Allow children to pick one up each morning and carry around in their pocket for the day. When an idea strikes, they can write it down. Have recess teachers carry pencils so a child can come up and ask for one at recess. Let the children know they can ask the teacher for a pencil at recess.

    I think this is the difference between professional writers and hobby writers. Hobby writers always think they will remember a thought later and fail to write it down when it occurs to them. Professional writers know how wild words are. If you don’t capture them on paper when they occur to you, they will run off and hide. Instilling the habit of writing down things when they occur cannot begin too early.

    Laura Evans
    all things poetry

  • 4. Amy  |  April 16th, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    I am from teddy bears and Barbie dolls
    from bedtime stories to bathtime bubbles.
    I am from princesses and fairy tales
    playing dress up to be someone else.
    I am from pink bubble gum and soccer games
    full of cartwheels and somersaults.
    I am from band-aids and “boo-boo’s”
    giving kisses to make it all better.
    I am from giggles and belly laughs
    as the giver and receiver of many tickles.
    I am from hugs and eskimo kisses
    with whispered I love you’s before bed.
    I am from all of those memories
    of loving and being loved.

  • 5. stella Villalba  |  April 17th, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    I am from quiet starry South American nights
    from rhythm and music filling up our lives
    I am from wishing and thinking
    that owning many books is the best gift of all
    I am from smiles and dancing
    that reminded me its all going to be alright
    I am from small spaces but green fields
    surrounding our everyday world
    I am from the words in the Spanish language
    that says, gracias, te amo, y salud!
    I am from the kitchen that fills the air
    with the smells of tortillas
    I am from strengths and perseverance
    that one day I can reach my dreams.
    Look at me, I am here!
    I am from those dreams that now that I am here
    it all came true.

    With this poem, I am trying to map out my journey from growing up in South America to my adulthood life living my dreams in the USA.

    of tortillas

  • 6. LeAnn Carpenter  |  April 18th, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    Here is a little bit of where I am from.

    Today I am from the Wisconsin woods,
    Deep in the woods where the sun can’t break through.
    The shadows of trees make me shiver.
    I am from Hannah, the Danish grandmother
    Who takes me on an adventure into the wild,
    Deep into the woods.
    Most days, I am from the city, but today it is the country
    I will explore to find new treasures not seen in my world.
    Mossy rocks, puff balls, and fungi poking its head up through the soil.
    I am from s’more treats after a long walk.
    Toasted marshmallows, melting chocolate, crunchy crackers, sticky fingers.
    The sun is setting, it’s time to return home.
    I am from the magic of time with my grandma

  • 7. Mary Lee  |  April 23rd, 2010 at 4:53 am


    I’m from the smell of chlorine
    and the heat of sun-baked cement by the pool.

    I’m from cherry tomatoes eaten warm off the plant
    and zinnias, marigolds, and petunias.

    I’m from goatheads and hailstones,
    blizzards and dust storms.

    I’m from “Punkin’ ” and “Sugar Plum”
    and “You are my special angel.”

    I’m from Lawrence Welk and Glenn Miller,
    Ed Sullivan and Johnny Cash.

    I’m from Lubbers Lounge Lu Lu
    and Thanksgiving ham and broiled spareribs.

    I’m from wide horizons
    and big skies,
    and I’m from a small town
    and narrow opportunities.
    I’ve traveled far.
    I’ve kept it all inside my heart.

    by Mary Lee Hahn, copyright 2010

  • 8. Amy  |  May 11th, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    i wrote this today but im stilll trying to finish it

    I am from a crowed city to all dirt roads
    From loud car horns to birds chirping
    I am from sweet and sour memories
    From laughing to crying
    I am from a loving wonderful family
    From old and new friends
    From cold and warm hearts
    I am from a wondering mind
    From a closing door to the next door open
    From the next road over
    I am from that road that never ends
    From a kind and generous heart
    From a cold and brutal one too
    I am from

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