I came across this NPR poetry project recently and decided to undertake it with my students when the time came to write poetry. NPR’s collaborative poem effort was inspired by this gem by George Ella Lyon, after which I modeled my own version in order to demonstrate for my students what they’d be doing. I enjoyed writing this so much that I wanted to share it here with you as well.
I am from honeysuckle
Growing on the backyard fence
From monosodium glutamate and transfat
I am from a well-worn copy of Ramona the Pest
(tattered, torn, smelling of love)
I am from majestic magnolia trees
Buds sweetly blossoming
Waxy petals glistening,
From sky-high weeping willows –
The wonder of sap dropping like tears
I am from banana pudding and Pebbles ponytails,
From Ezell and Amazon
I am from too many aunties and uncles to count,
From First Sunday communion and praise dancing teams
I am from John 3:16 and Psalm 23.
I am from mysterious matriarchs
Florence and Mildred and Sheryl and Bennie,
From don’t make me repeat myself
Shirley Chisolm, unbought and unbossed
I am from locked diaries tucked away under my mattress,
Personalized pink and purple stationary,
lines full of hearts and one-day maybe baby names.
I am from neighborhood streets where the midnight pop outside my window
could be a gunshot
or a firecracker,
I am from cheesy Hamburger Helper with green beans on the side,
Rinsed so they don’t taste like the can.
I am from what you see is what you get.
I am from here.