Where I’m From – A Writing Prompt for Everyone

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

A cup of coffee and a conversation.

by: George Ella Lyon

I am from clothespins,

from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.

I am from the dirt under the back porch.

(Black, glistening,

it tasted like beets.)

I am from the forsythia bush

the Dutch elm

whose long-gone limbs I remember

as if they were my own.

I’m from fudge and eyeglasses,

from Imogene and Alafair.

I’m from the know-it-alls

and the pass-it-ons,

from Perk up! and Pipe down!

I’m from He restoreth my soul

with a cottonball lamb

and ten verses I can say myself.

I’m from Artemus and Billie’s Branch,

fried corn and strong coffee.

From the finger my grandfather lost

to the auger,

the eye my father shut to keep his sight.

Under my bed was a dress box

spilling old pictures,

a sift of lost faces

to drift beneath my dreams.

I am from those moments —

snapped before I budded —

leaf-fall from the family tree.

I have struggled with this poem. Not the reading of it, or the understanding of it, but writing my own version.

As a teacher and a writer, I use mentor texts all the time. The inspiration and springboard to my own writing on the shoulders of a published and admired writer. This is a practice I am familiar with.

The moment of enlightenment came in a 6th grade class in a trailer in the middle of downtown Gary.

To learn about your students this activity can be done the first week of school.

Students can write their own version on their own life.

Another variation is for students to pull their favorite lines from their own and then mix them with favorite lines from the collective of the class to write a collaborative version.

Where are you from?

Where I’m From and Where I’m Not

I’m not from here
Everyone turns away from something
I’m not from here. I’m not from anywhere.
It is easier to live that way.

I am from eipanancake and brotchen
I am from “It’s your responsibility”.
I am from the broken mother daughter relationship

I am not from southern Illinois.
I am not from Ivy league.
I am not from the MFA.

I am from parents that stayed together.
I am from grandparents that nurtured me.
I am not from the mountains.
I am not from money.
I am not from Leipzig but my Oma was.

I am from the lettuce, the cucumbers and the radishes in the garden
I am from Clorox bleach
I am from desk sets and pens and stationery.

I am really from somewhere else.
There is a town I belong to, but am not on the register.

But am I really?

Tammy L. Breitweiser is currently a curriculum coach in Northwest Indiana where she is dedicated to impacting student achievement in grades 3–6. With 24 years of experience, she is a reading advocate who believes reading is the gateway to life. As an accidental inspirationalist, she is always conjuring words; usually in the form of short stories. You can connect with on Twitter @tlbreit or You can sign up for her newsletter here.

Published by TammyB

Tammy Breitweiser is a writer and teacher who is a force of nature and woman of honor; seer of nuance; an accidental inspirationalist; a keeper of the little red doors, and a conjurer of everyday magic who is busy writing short stories. Her poetry has been published in The Storyteller Magazine. Her flash fiction in Spelk, Cabinet of Heed, Clover and White, and Elephants Never. Her essay is published in the I Wrote it Anyway anthology. You can also connect with Tammy through Twitter @Tlbreit

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