Friday, July 07, 2006

From Whence I Came

My brain is pretty mushy from an exhausting first week (think four hours of sleep a night - yuck), but I wanted to share an activity we did in our summer school class today. We read a poem by George Ella Lyons called "Where I'm From" (see it here). The students all made lists of things in their house, in their yard, in their neightborhood; names of family members from their past; sayings they heard a lot as children; food they commonly ate or places they visited, etc. From there, they had to write a poem called "Where I'm From," where essentially they could write "I am from..." and fill it in with things from their lists. It was an easy way for them to write a poem, and so many of the poems turned out really beautifully. The images they were able to evoke, and the emotions they conveyed were really powerful. At any rate, I love poetry, as you pretty much all know, and since my CT (cooperating teacher) wanted me to do one along with them and then read it to the class, I decided to share it with you all. Those of you who may be more familiar with my childhood will recognize many of these images (*ahem* Seeser *ahem*). You'll also notice that this, like many of my poems, is written in waltz time - too many years of dance maybe. So, without further ado, "Where I'm From":

I am from Mother's robes - faded black flannel,
from pretty rose china, from brown M&M's.
Paintings were everywhere: unhappy clowns
or a navy blue skyline with windows of fire.
I am from flower beds bordered by brick
under a criss-crossing window of gold.
Ferns reaching upward would tickle my window
beside high-stemmed flowers of purple and white;
Later, imposing white bars on a gate
would welcome the unwelcome visitor out.
I am from safety, "A Nice Place to Live,"
from stars - moons - planets - the sun.
I am from ice cream trucks making the rounds
at seven o' clock on a summery dusk.
I am from Nikolas, Avery, Ruth,
GG and Ron and innumerable Wrays;
'Larry' and 'Kandi' to 'Kari' and 'Landry' -
word games forever inscribed in our selves.
I am from "Get tough," "Brrr Frrrgers," and "So big!"
from high school game sidelines and singing in bed.
I'm from A Custom Stitch, monogrammed letters,
tan wooden hoops around cheerleading bags.
I danced with countertops, never ashamed
of partners invisible teaching me steps.
I am from bacon mac, tomato zuccini,
eggs benedict as a specialty treat.
Every June I'd blow out the candles
on chocolate mayonnaise cake made by my dad.
I am from Mother, connected by phone calls,
and Father, connected in little girl dreams.
Silver box holding my memories waiting
above seven months of empty "In Style."

As with the drawing, don't judge too harshly. This was done as a timed exercise in a class. But I was pretty happy with it, and I liked it as a creative exercise anyway.

On a completely unrelated (to poetry) note, I took this picture of a colleague during our off-period in the teacher's lounge. I told her later that I had to take it because it so aptly captured what we were all feeling:

Woot. I'm planning to be in bed by 10pm. But yes, I still love it, and that makes it all okay.


Natalie said...
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Lady M said...

It's fun to hear about all your class exercises. I hope that you get enough rest in the next crazy weeks!

Lara said...

Eric - I'm glad you liked it. I actually use dactyls fairly often, though I don't follow the general rule of usage that says it's supposed to be used for witty "punchline" poems, like limericks and such.

M - I imagine class exercises will be a recurring theme here. I figure I spend so much time on them in class that I might as well share them with the readers (assuming they're not too dense and boring). I'm hoping I start getting more rest... this schedule is not working well so far... :-P

Natalie said...

Oh, punchline poems, pshhh. If it was good enough for Homer, it's good enough for anything. I really like the rhythm but I think they're hard to do in English, so I was extra impressed.

Lara said...

Interesting... I often find it hard *not* to do poems in that rhythm. Even when I'm explicitly trying to use iambic pentameter or anything else, I often find myself slipping into dactyls without realizing it. Horrible habit, that. :-P

Anonymous said...

A late comment, I know and ever so shocking but it made me cry. It was beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Kari, I'm supposed to be finishing the handout for tomorrow right now, but I couldn't resist reading a few entries. I love your posts on maternal instincts and especially your poem. *tear* (but not streaming tears like when reading your autobio. incident). I'm a huge fan of your writing!