I found this great little writing exercise on Danigirl’s blog. It seems to originate as a professional development project based on George Ella Lyon’s work. I thought it made for a cool post, but the next day one of my fellow teachers suddenly started talking about the heretofore unknown (to me) poet Lyon at an in-service meeting. Well, thought I, that’s some synchronicity for me.
Anyway, It seemed like a cool project to do with my kids, and being the good teacher that I am (and also the kind of person who enjoys these kinds of writing exercises) I figured I should test drive it first…
Where I’m From, an exercise in identity…
I am from maps, from National Geographic and surplus bombing charts of Vietnam used as tarps below our tents.
I am from green soccer fields, orange slices sucked through teeth at halftime and 2..4..6..8…who do we appreciate.
I am from the lonely buoy bell clanging in the bay on open-window summer nights. I am from old forests with forgotten headstones hidden in the undergrowth.
I am from the Smithsonian, concrete bunkers overgrown by jungle, that old monastery on the hill. From birdless gray Octobers and the golden light of northern summer, a fox curled up on the lawn.
I am from the scrub oak, juniper and palms, summer tomato plants and morning glory growing thick on a wire fence. I am from bluebonnets and prickly pear embedded in my palm.
I am from tacos and tamales on Christmas Eve. From Trivial Pursuit and gentleness, from Brushes, Griffins, Tomlinsons and Trouts. From the parrot we birdsat, who never learned to talk, but in our house, learned to laugh.
I am from meals with talk instead of TV, from books and magazines and a telescope pointed at Saturn’s rings.
From books are our friends and may the force be with you.
I am from the King James Bible, New England churches surrounded by three hundred year old graves. From Doubting Thomas and endless questions.
I’m from the cold Narragansett, “King” Arthur’s Illinois basketball court, both sides of the Revolution, and the Valley of the Sun, from home-baked cookies kept in the freezer, tortillas in the ‘fridge.
From Grace who said nothing of her past, from Dorothy who told everything, from Jim whose cursing made me laugh (my parents cringed) and Cecil whose tales I never got to hear.
I am from cluttered closet time capsules, vinyl photo albums, instamatic shots and slide shows of the sea, from treasure boxes and neat ordered files of school projects, drawings, homemade cards.
I am from the Colonial coast, the edge of jungle, the ring of fire, the ruins of Rome, the settled Comanche hills I now call home.
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As a side project, I followed the links from Danigirl back along the trail of meme to see where it began, all the while enjoying the various takes along the way. It goes: Daysgoby to Spanglish to Lolabola to a staff development website.
Here’s the page that explains how to put it together. Give it a whirl.