Writing Exercise: Where I’m From


“Where I’m From” – by George Ella Lyon

I am from clothespins,
from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the back porch.
(Black, glistening,
it tasted like beets.)
I am from the forsythia bush
the Dutch elm
whose long-gone limbs I remember
as if they were my own.

I’m from fudge and eyeglasses,
from Imogene and Alafair.
I’m from the know-it-alls
and the pass-it-ons,
from Perk up! and Pipe down!
I’m from He restoreth my soul
with a cottonball lamb
and ten verses I can say myself.

I’m from Artemus and Billie’s Branch,
fried corn and strong coffee.
From the finger my grandfather lost
to the auger,
the eye my father shut to keep his sight.

Under my bed was a dress box
spilling old pictures,
a sift of lost faces
to drift beneath my dreams.
I am from those moments–
snapped before I budded —
leaf-fall from the family tree. 

Create your own “Where I’m From” poem

  1. Choose central character (yourself, friend, family member, or historical figure).
  2. Jot down list of things that are SPECIFIC to the character that make him/her special. For example:

Write list of things done, seen, tasted, touched, said, felt and/or heard.
Write list any important family information
Write list of hobbies or special interests
Write list of any important details of past or future
Write something that is always said about the character or TO the character

3. Combine information to reflect style of Lyon’s poem.

Have fun with this one! And let us know in the comments below what you think of it.


Writing Exercise: Haiku

Created for Living Words by Dr. Deno Trakas (

Deno Trakas, has a knack for haiku – a short poem that consist of three lines in a 5/7/5 (a total of 17) “on”, which are Japanese units of sound that we usually translate to mean syllables. The poem usually depicts an image from the natural world that cuts to another image that suggests something more than the literal meaning.  Here’s a well-known example:

At the age old pond
Frog leaps into the water
A deep resonance

Trakas’ interest for haikus became a morning ritual, when for roughly 150 days he greeted each morning by creating a new haiku on a napkin. According to Trakas, “Writing a haiku is an experience that is of the moment, which then becomes a record of the moment.” To get started, look out the window. What do you see? Think of the meaning of the subject you have chosen. Consider similes and metaphors to describe the subject. Try to use original language to describe it. Play with words to fit the syllable pattern.

Here’s one created by a Living Words group. We hope it will help inspire you to create your own. You can do it!

Sagging mattress sky
Slowly opening my eyes
Morning light obscured

We would love it if you would share your haiku with us in the comments below!