Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Where I'm From Poems

These are the purple flowers mentioned in Mrs. Jackson's poem.
We've been reading and discussing the poetry of Billy Collins, Mary Oliver, Carol Ann Duffy, Langston Hughes, and Elinor Wylie. Now, we're taking our turn at writing poetry as well. The poem we are writing this week and next helps us each answer the question, "where am I from?" What we have discovered is that our childhood memories and experiences are what shape who we are today. Therefore, we are from much more than just the place where we live or were born. Our poems are inspired by the original poem by George Ella Lyon. The poems are due on June 2nd and 3rd--after two periods to work on them in class.  Here's an all-in-one sheet with the model poem, rubric, and the tips.  Print it as a reference.

If you are working on the poem at home, here is the rubric:
The poem touches readers’ emotions, and stirs fresh insights, makes us see what is unique about you.
The poem shows creativity in the use of language including the use of metaphor and simile.  The poem creates sharp new images (imagery).
The poem is inspired by the model poem. (Evidence: Uses the line “I am from…” and “From….” as the framework for the images.) It has a shift that clearly reveals an important image.  Changes to the format after the shift are purposeful and effective.   It follows the guidelines for poem length (20-40), number of stanzas (4-7), and appropriate line breaks.  (It should not look like a paragraph).
The poem is formatted neatly, (if typed use black Times New Roman size 12), single-spaced with an extra space between stanzas.    Careful proofreading for spelling, typos, and other errors is evident. 

In class, we offered students several tips based on having read hundreds of versions of Where I'm From poems.  Be sure to take these to heart as you write.

  • Avoid  the “from-____to“ pattern
                    It’s “where I'm from”  , not
                    Ex: I'm from the figs in the yard to the kumquats on the bush.
                      This makes it sound like you have reached your destination, and makes the poem                         sound done too soon.  
  • Avoid the  "I AM" pattern.
            I'm from the lavender striped flowers NOT I am the lavender striped flowers. 
  • Avoid being too literal.
              I am from Jacksonville or I am from a family who loves me .
  • Avoid the words “that” and “which” These make your details sound over-explained.  Try taking it out and making the line make sense without it.
  • Plan for a shift.  How will you change up your last stanza to reveal your meaning? 
The samples written by your teachers:

Where I’m From
by Christianne Blumberg

I am from the neighborhood of my dad’s own childhood,
From the duck pond, cracked sidewalks, and a snake-filled creek.
I’m from towering oak trees,
swaying giants providing shade from the brutal sun.

I’m from imagination,
a loud, disorganized friend that I’ve always known.
From bagel bites, lemonade sales, and The Tiger Club.
Red roller racers, my little ponies, skip bo, and boom boxes.
I’m from made-up music videos, forts under the dining room table,
and annual live nativity scenes.
I am from Perkin’s lot,
home to slimy earthworms, a decrepit dock,
a make-believe baseball diamond, and a gritty rock wall.

I’m from Momma’s chocolate pies, boiled peanuts, and fried okra.
From Daddy’s cheeseball on Christmas Day.
I’m from Aunt Teeny’s gumdrops, Sissy’s Coca-Cola,
Johnny’s doughburgers, and Osteen’s shrimp.
From a birthday party filled with salty popcorn and pickles.

I am from the strong smell of Chlorine,
the crack of a bat,
the flash of a camera,
and the squishy tumbling mat.

I’m from “Sleeping Booty” and holding books upside down.
From Wee Sing and Raffi,
during long car rides over the bridge.
From library cards glued into the back every book in the house,
an intricate check-out system,
charging a dime per hour for overdue fines.

I am from Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, and Dylan.
From “watch me” dancing in the den
(my fist as the microphone, a milk crate as my stage, my parents as my audience).
From tenor saxophones, piano keys, oboes, and boys who played drums.
I am from “play louder” and being happy with second chair.

I am still from the neighborhood of my dad’s childhood,
The neighborhood of my past, present, and future.
Sidewalks that still have stories to tell,
Oak trees that still have protection to provide,

Memories that still have yet to be made by those who follow.

Where I'm From by Morgan Jackson

I’m from Far-Mor and Far-Far, Clyde, and Manuel
From opening all the presents
From Swedish meatballs and Swedish fish.
From go carts, trampolines, metal mailboxes,
and a Georgia accent that’s too heavy to carry home.

I’m from Mallory, Donald, Cherry, Willowbranch,
and Oak, where I put down my roots.
I’m from trapped tadpoles and freed frogs.

I’m from magenta azaleas, and sulfur water sprinklers.
From figs in the yard,
the outside sueded and brown,  the inside pink and slimy,
(I never ate them).
I’m from the tart, fuzzy violet-striped flowers in my yard
(I ate them all the time).
I’m from “You’ll spoil your dinner” and “go play outside.”

I’m from curls and ponytail-poppers
From hair rolled into buns like princess Leia
From grape bubble gum and Flintstones vitamins
I’m from Annie, Francesca, and
Henrietta, the Wild Woman of Borneo.

I’m from my front steps, bricked and mossy
From the city bus and the rusted floor of the VW
From waiting

But  I awoke each morning under a pink dotted canopy,
A ballerina music box spinning on my nightstand.
I can still hear my mother’s voice:
“Morgan, wake up.  It’s the seven o’clock whistle.”
I’m from that sound,
A low, sweet sound like a train pulling the day behind it;
A sound I thought she created 

  just    for      me.

Where I'm From by Natalie Schoof

I am from antique furniture and shells,
spiny, shiny treasures from the shore
 finding a home
in our house.

I am from forts in the woods, marshy, dense, mysterious.
 From spring azaleas of pink, purple and white,
the giant magnolia tree with blooms
opening slowly, like phases of the moon.

I’m from Selmer saxophones and #3 ½ Vandoren reeds. 
From Sounds good! and Mark time hut! And jazzy lead-ins of a one,
and a two,
and a three
and a four

I’m from our family’s collection of cats,
orange stripes and spotted calico softness,
wiry whiskers,
love and loss.

I am from early morning fishing trips on the lazy green Gulf,
 and day trips to springs,
waving eel grasses of the Ichetucknee
framing mermaid moves.

I’m from our family’s porch,
a stage that hosted this Solid Gold dancer,
this Phantom and Les Mis singer
this Charlie Parker wannabe.

I’m from Stevie and Carl:
a platform from which I was encouraged to dive headlong
into any stream –

 any dream I wished