Where I’m From Poems A reflective and lyrical look at your past
What Works Introduces poetry or creative writing about the self Provides models for students to mimic or use as an outline—students learn through imitation and following a safe skeletal structure Can introduce social and ethnic diversity in a classroom (understand and respect differences and value similarities)
Great way to learn more about students and what they bring into the classroom Helps students with writing apprehension to begin to get some personal ideas down on paper Allows students to share both who they are and where they come from
List names of relatives (these can be nicknames, pet names, things only you called them, etc.).
List old family sayings or sayings you remember from childhood.
List foods you remember from your youth (maybe these bring back happy memories, or maybe these are foods you only got at certain relatives’ houses).
List the places you kept your childhood memories (secret hiding places, places that weren’t so secret, just places to store important items, etc.).
List anything else you can remember from your childhood that stands out.
My “Where I’m From” Poem Where I’m From I am from shag carpets That beg to be laid upon From matchbox cars and broken-in furniture To pass the lazy days of summer. I am from tomato plants Spilling red across the yard From tobacco fields Where character was born. I am from dirt roads and general stores And small town southern life From next-door neighbors Too far away to see. I am from Uncle Brother Whose name always confused me From Sawyer family reunions And country folk gettin dressed up. I am from “Rise ‘n Shine” Too early every morning From “I’ll give you something to cry about” And following through if you called their bluff. I am from spaghetti and french fries Which only made sense to us From vegetable soup That’ll cure anything that ails ya I am from photo albums Documenting life From boxes in the attic That prove I was here. I am from love A kind unparalleled From pride and thanks In knowing where I’m from. ~Michael Cook
The Where I’m From Poem Works Well With Elementary Students As Well
The Where I’m From Poem Can Even Be Found In Country Music
Time to Write!! Use your responses to the prompts and compose your own “Where I’m From Poem” Feel free to use either George Ella Lyon’s poem or mine as a model to follow. You may also go your own route if you feel so inspired. Other things to keep in mind:
A few excerpts from my own students. This always turns out to be an interesting and learning experience. Where I’m FromWhere I’m from Couples argue late at nightthere’s a part called nigga city Kids walk around and start fightsmen and teenage boys sell drugs Strays whine and bark all nightpeople call themselves thugs Where I’m fromwhere I’m from ~Zaiquian I’m from a place where tractorswhere turkey and hog houses Replace luxurious vehiclesare the nice, refreshing fragrance Where double-wides are betteryou wake up to Than mansionswhere duct tape and gorilla glue Where ponds are not onlyare the sure fix for anything Used for fishing, but for swimming ~Haley
Def Poetry Jam Even Has Its Own Version Of The Where I’m From Poem
Literature supporting the “Where I’m From” Poem: Bigelow, Bill et al., Rethinking Our Classrooms: Teaching for Equity and Justice. Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools, 1994, pp. 4-5. Blum, Joshua, Holman, Bob & Pelington, Mark (Eds.). The United States of Poetry. New York: Harry N. Adams, 1996. Christensen, Linda (2008). Where I’m From: Inviting Students’ Lives into the Classroom. Rethinking Schools, 12(2), pp. 22-23. Handouts of the Christensen article have been provided.