An Exercise in Self Discovery

Where I’m From is a type of self-discovery in the form of a poem that has been classroom classic and taught throughout the world for years. It easy to do and creates a truly unique perspective of your roots – where you’re from.

The ‘Where I’m From’ movement began with George Ella Lyon – a poet, writer, musician, storyteller, and teacher. Her idea was inspired by a book by Jo Carson titled ‘Stories I Ain’t Told Nobody Yet.’ Among the quotes in the book was this: “I want to know when you get to be from a place.” This quote inspired her to create a poem to help her find out just where she came from.

It’s easy to see why it became so popular because we all have our own story to tell and this poem ‘exercise’ helps you to zero in on the details of your story by exploring your background, home, childhood, upbringing and family.

If you want to give it a try, use the simple template below:

The WHERE I’M FROM Template

I am from _______ (specific ordinary item), from _______ (product name) and _______.

I am from the _______ (home description… adjective, adjective, sensory detail).

I am from the _______ (plant, flower, natural item), the _______ (plant, flower, natural detail)

I am from _______ (family tradition) and _______ (family trait), from _______ (name of family member) and _______ (another family name) and _______ (family name).

I am from the _______ (description of family tendency) and _______ (another one).

From _______ (something you were told as a child) and _______ (another).

I am from (representation of religion, or lack of it). Further description.

I’m from _______ (place of birth and family ancestry), _______ (two food items representing your family).

From the _______ (specific family story about a specific person and detail), the _______ (another detail, and the _______ (another detail about another family member).

I am from _______ (location of family pictures, mementos, archives and several more lines indicating their worth).

Personally, I loved writing my ‘Where I’m From’ poem and it gave me new insights into myself and my life.

 Where I’m From


I’m from fresh white sneakers, and cold Coca Cola, and JiffyPop

I’m from the small towns with perfect lawns and friendly gossips

I’m from the Royal Oak trees, pink fragrant roses, and the soft blue sky

The lazy clouds that hang low and become faces, dogs and lizards.

I’m from Irish tempers quick and hot and belly laughs that wet your pants

From Patsy and Lucky and cantankerous Lottie

I’m from blue collars and steel men with strong dirty hands with hearty appetites for food and cold beer

From an ‘answer for everything’ and ‘just like your father’

I’m from altars, incense, and holy water

From jaunty Sunday hats

From parables repeated by brides of Christ and hushed prayers that rattle beads

From the green hills and heather teeming with faeries and leprechauns

Potato salad, hot dogs, and hamburgers

From the motorcycle man who siphoned gas from tractors and the roller rink darling who lied about her age – the brother who died too young and too alone

I’m from boxes in the attic that sealed in the smiles and forced poses

The faded black and whites glued to table tops – the grainy grins that fight the years

Early bed times and late night ice cream cones

Lakeside vacations and car trips

Lazy summer days eating red ripe tomatoes that drip down our faces

From public fireworks and sweet watermelons

And images never lost but buried deep inside 

copyright anita rodgers

How about you? Want to find out where you’re from in this truly unique and special way. Give it a try and feel free to post it in the comments. Or just keep it as a little treasure all your very own. 

4 thoughts on “An Exercise in Self Discovery

  1. I love your poem. The last poem I wrote about “where I’m from” was dark. I’m not a poet but I can say I had no trouble writing that specific poem. I think I’ll pass on trying this template. But like I said, I love your poem with its lazy clouds and soft blue skies. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Elva,
    Happy Easter Weekend.

    I understand about passing – I think once you’ve done it you probably don’t want to go it again. Though I had a thought that it might be a fun exercise to do it from the view of your dad – I suppose you’d have to imagine, but you have so much research about him and his life it might come easy to you. Just a thought.

    Have a blessed Easter.



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