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Where Are Writers From?

Linda Satterlee-McFadin led a free-writing session at the WWW workshop. In a writing exercise based on George Ella Lyon’s “Where I’m From” poem, participants wrote about the people, places, and things that made them who they are. Here are some of their musings:

I am from dust-covered bare feet and eating tomatoes plucked and salted,
Back porch wringer washing clothes in hot water and cold and hanging to dry,
Big brother helping big sister’s friend from peeing on a rattlesnake and little sister loving what I love! Chicken and dumplings, watermelon and playing school. Sitting too close to the TV—Lassie, Mayberry, Queen for a Day, to Kids say the Darnedest Things.

I’m from wilderness, moose meat, dirty snow in winter, mud in summer,
I’m from dark winters and sunny summer nights,
I’m from World War II, soldiers everywhere, fear of invasion.

I am ever coming and going, unsettled, on a search to find my way home.
I was the “perfect child” and am struggling to know it’s OK not to be.

I’m from playing with my Kenya and driving my Barbies ’round in my shoes.
I’m from four eyes are better than two, and I love my braids in but love my hair even more out,
I’m from sharing is caring. And never leave your family out, try to smile and keep a positive mind.

I am from the morning dew, country tea time, and Bob White syrup, too.
I am from playing jacks on the porch, two square on the sidewalk, and hopscotch on the street.
I am from straightened hair with Vaseline and water, halter stops, shorts and sandals on my feet. I am from Sunday school and Hallelujah pews.
Just to name a few.

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Where are Writers From?

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I’m from city dirt, soil, cars, trams, gambling and prostitution.

I am from women and women and women and men.

I’m from wearing pajamas in the back seat at the drive-in and the speaker hanging on the car window,
I’m from Jiffy Pop popcorn and Coke in a glass bottle.

I am from stained hands from summer huckleberry bushes, tender hands that plugged up my bloody nose after a sneezing fit in the garden, joyful hands that turned the rope while I jumped, greasy hands from lying under the car to watch the oil drop out.

I am from a father in dress blues, marching at the tomb of the unknown soldier while cannons at Arlington make my heart jump.
A mother sunning herself on the shore of Lake Erie and a car full of suitcases loaded up every three years.

I am from six girls and no boys—and oh-your-poor-father—from “Hey, y’all, come on in, the more the merrier.” I am from third-grade poems to college essays, from kickball and hide and seek and “ally ally in free” and moms who called us in as dusk fell and street lights sparked on one by one.

I am from noisy streets, looking at the Sears Tower from my backyard and listening to the trains screech in the yard across busy Laramie Avenue.
I’m from muddy water along the curb, making soup with rocks, stirring the glop with sticks.
I’m from badminton in the streets and patiently stepping aside to let a car go by.

I am from homemade seesaws made from slats of wood laid across the stalls in the barn.
I am from blackberries and freshly scratched arms from the gathering.

I am from catfish and crawdads and Falls City Beer.

I come from early mornings, “rise and shine,” to “let’s take a break; it’s dinner time,”
I’m from the sweat on my daddy’s brow, and the matted mud on the blade of the plow.
I’m from hard work and calloused hands, the kind of people that care about their land.

I am offspring of “Russel-with-one-L” and “Don’t call me Lil,”
Parts of both blended into a rich concoction, topped off with a sparkling splash of pure “me.”

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