Sunday, August 25, 2013

My Version of "Where I Am From"

George Ella Lyons, poet and teacher,  wrote a moving poem of where she is from----
She was from Clothspins, etc. and since I do not have permission to write her poem on my website, I will put a link, but believe me,  it is worth reading:

http://www.georgeellalyon.com/where.html

and listening to:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdnHl_yW1dQ.

So in school I am having my students do their version of the poem.  It includes a template and a sheet for brainstorming, etc.  I think it is a great way to get to know your students.  I was in for some eyeopeners since the poem has room for students to go as deep as they want to into their past. For some it has been hard and healing. I wasn't expecting it since this was my first time teaching it, but it opened the door for dialogue and healing. It can also be as light, since for other, they are from basketball or baseball bats, Nike or earrings.   All of this is quite alright.  They are all welcome in my room!

Here is the poem, I wrote, fashioned after Ms. Lyon's.

"Where I Am From" by Elba Vazquez Morales




I am from strings to tie pasteles and olives to pop in my mouth,
From Lestoil and Pine Sol and Fabuloso
I am from brown rich earth and green plantain leaves,
Soaring high in the sky, glistening while giving me shade
Tasting like salt in my mouth.
I am from the Yagrumo leaves swaying in the breeze,
The orange Poinciana,
Whose flaming red blossoms and roots
Go deep in my soul

I am from moist coconut candy and hair bands
From Gisela and Samuel,
I’m from Abuelita y Don Pepe,
from the torn up shoes on princess feet
to the seamstress with silver scissors
I’m from a little neighborhood church
Where I sang I Surrender All with all my heart,  
From a wooden Psalm 23
And plastic braided keychains

I am from Old San Juan and Naranjito
From pastelillos and café colao
From the buried treasure near the river and
the ghost story about murdered servants that hid it.
Under my metal lavender bed there was only dust,
On a beat up book of all the countries I would visit,
And all the places I had been, a list that included
Virginia, Texas, and Panama with memories that
Fade into my dreams
I am from all those moments and all those faces
Before I could choose,
I am only a seed from my family tree.




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