Poetry Friday: Where I’m From

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Poetry Friday is hosted by Violet Nesdoly

Poetry is one of  the elements of our year end multi genre writing project, and (luckily) George Ella Lyons’ “Where I’m From” is one of the poetic forms in our poetry toolbox.  On Monday, we shared Lyons’ poem and my kids and I wrote together.  They were amazing – so many fearless poems about naming and honoring where we’re from. Here’s the one I composed as a free write for my kids – just to get their writing going….

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Where I’m From

I am from drenching monsoons

and dusty droughts,

I am from the land of my birth,

from Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras…

of teeming streets and sylvan compounds

the two halves of my soul.


I am from Cape Comorin and the Arabian Sea

from tri colored sand and ancient stones.

I am from discovering the new

amid the ruins of the old

sea shells and temple fragments

the Red Fort and Elephanta caves

the past, present and future always



coming into view, and then disappearing.


I am from Jane Eyre and  David Copperfield,

Shakespeare and Tagore.

Verses, phrases and words

memorized and whispered.

I am from many languages

some understood and others parsed.

I am from “say it with actions”,

and “never give up, or give in”.


I am from the sound of the sitar

traveling through the many rooms of my

grandfather’s house.

I am from his glorious gladioli

his fragrant mango orchards

and jasmine trees.

I am from exuberant scents and textures

of long ago memories.


I am from belonging

and not belonging –

knitting together an identity

from fragments, memories and longings.

I am from a family of wanderers

strong souls

adrift and forever free.


14 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Where I’m From

  1. I love introducing this to students, actually to some teachers too, Tara. I bet your students’ work is a wonder to read! And your poem sets that tone, love “knitting together an identity
    from fragments, memories and longings.”

  2. We use this form in my class as well. Do you have the book Immersed in Verse by Allan Wolf? He has a well illustrated deconstruction of Lyon’s original poem.
    Love your version, so rich and sensual. My favorite line: “I am from discovering the new

    amid the ruins of the old

    sea shells and temple fragments” speaks to me of how living among the old can enrich your soul.

  3. Who wouldn’t be inspired to write “fearless poems, naming and honoring…” after hearing yours?! Your students are so fortunate to have you as a model and mentor. I’ve read many “where I’m from” poems based on the Lyons’ one. Yours is one of my favorites.

  4. Tara, such a lovely poem that reflects the fabulous writer you are — I was immersed in so many images as I read the poem. Thank you for sharing! This will be one that will be a joy to read over and over.

  5. I love this! I do these poems with my seventh graders every year, and they are some of my favorite things they write.

  6. Pingback: Poetry Friday: In Memory of Maya Angelou | Check It Out

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