Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Homework (Yes, for you!)

You know when you used to be in school, your teachers sometimes gave you homework that was absolutely pointless and stupid and seemed like a complete waste of your time? This is not one of those assignments.

I don't know how I came upon this type of poem, but I liked it immediately (and I am not a fan of poetry.) I was attracted to it because it does not take a lot of creativity; only memory. I have my students do it every year, and no matter what their skill levels, the results are beautiful.

I wrote my first I Am From poem from the perspective of my childhood. I found the experience of writing it to be very empowering and beautiful. That's why I am "assigning" this homework to you. And know this:

*It's super easy to write
*There is a good return on your investment of time; you may even want to put yours on the fridge!
*You can tweak the format however you like (as I did)
*There is no due-date (consider it an open-ended Meme)

The only thing I ask is that if you write one, please consider posting it on your blog and letting me know. If you don't have a blog but want to share, feel free to email it to me, as I love reading those of others. This can be a very personal poem, depending upon how you write it, so of course if you want to keep it private, that's your business; I just want to encourage you to write one.

Okay, so here's mine. I just want you to know that I love this poem. It's real, it's true, and it's who I am. However, when I finished it, I felt compelled to write a second one, based upon my life today. (I'll post that one another time.)

I am Barba Jean

I am from books, clutter, and board games,
beer cans, back-hands, hand-me-downs,
food stamps, free lunches, homemade cookies,
Girl Scouts, and singing.

I am from clotheslines, bikes on the lawn, stray pets,
and flowerbeds filled with Grandma's cuttings.

I am from Astor Park, Porlier Market,
Roosevelt Elementary, St. Mary's Church,
the "alley," St. Vincent Hospital,
and the East River.

I am one of "the Kinney kids," The Draeger Clan,
Grandpa Granville and Grandma Blanche.
I am "Barba Jean" and "Blondie."

I am from "What the hell is the matter with you?!"
"Dad's home!" (Run upstairs before he gets inside!)
and "Your mother is a saint."
I am from family secrets.

I am from homemade pizza, Hamburger Helper,
old-fashioned popped corn, Christmas cookies,
homemade bread, and homemade mayonnaise.

I am from manila envelopes filled with Mothers Day cards,
short stories, and childhood photos.

I am from alcoholism, dysfunction, and love.
I am from family.

P.S. In case you missed the format, here it is: Stuff from your house, from your yard, from your neighborhood, people you're from, quotes heard in your house, food your family likes to eat, and places you keep your memories).

(Class dismissed.)


  1. This is wonderful. I am definitely going to try it.


  2. Good idea. I haven't written poetry in ages. :)


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