Posts Tagged ‘I am From’

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

I was first introduced to Poetic Justice by Sarah Donovan at her site Ethical ELA in July, 2020.

Poetic Justice offers restorative writing and creative arts programs to women who are incarcerated. Since 2014, they have been offering classes in jails and detention facilities that engage in self-reflective, therapeutic writing: “By using poetry, women who have never written in their lives find the confidence to write from their hearts.” (They were featured on CNN Heroes.)

Sarah Donovan, Ethical ELA

Because of the pandemic, Poetic Justice could no longer go into prisons and teach the writing workshops, but that didn’t stop them. Now they have more than 150 inmates and volunteers writing poetry and letters to each other. I volunteered to be a writing partner and am now in my third round of writing.

I believe in the power of poetry to heal. My writing partner, Kwain, has solidified that belief for me in the 8 months that we have been writing to each other. As with any deeply personal project, it has taken a while for her to trust me with her writing. I feel it is a privilege to receive it. This month we exchanged I am From poems.

I am From

I am from the homemade Jalapeño skillet cornbread
with pig intestines known as chitlins.
I am from the Dominoes playing as
the adults yell out foul words
as the odor of cigarettes corrupt the air of the room.
I am from Earth, Wind, and Fire, R Kelly and soul music.
I am from the state flower BlueBonnet,
Texas Longhorn. 
I am from the small church known as Immanuel Baptist Church
where I got saved when I was 9 years old. 
I am from a fatherless home.
I am from being Independent is a must
because all I had was my mom.
I am from “Everything is bigger”.
I am from Amarillo, Texas.

Kwain Monroe

The writing I receive from Kwain comes as scans of notebook pages. I write to her through a paid service (30 cents per letter).

If you are interested in this project, consider a donation. $25 can sponsor one inmate’s participation and supplies. Poetic Justice website.

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Poetry Friday Round-up is at  Today's Little Ditty.

Poetry Friday Round-up is at Today’s Little Ditty.


For National Poetry Month, Chris Lehman has invited teacher/poets to join together to read, listen, and discuss poetry. Chris posed this question to the group, “Why Poetry?” Inspired by Kevin Hodgson, I tried out Tapestry for my response. Click on the link to view my response.


Earlier in the week, I posted about my writing life responding to fellow blogger/writer Sandra Sarr’s questions. I am From poems have been around for a while and are written in many middle grade classrooms. But I wanted to take a different spin on the I am From and write about where my writing life comes from.

I am from a short story contest in tenth grade.
I won for my row.

I am from Dear Diary, “I want to be a writer
if only someone would give me the confidence.”

I am from “Where is Papa going with that ax?”
to “Blue is cackling something awful this morning.”
from Children’s Literature class to
the National Writing Project Teacher Institute.

I am from retreats, marathons, and critique groups
holding me accountable to find an authentic voice
and make writing a daily practice.

I am from pen to paper,
fingers to keyboard,
opening my veins and bleeding
my words,
trusting them to
the world.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

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Slice of Life Tuesday

Slice of Life Tuesday

In celebration of National Poetry Month, I am teaching my students a different poetry form each day. Because of all the interruptions, (testing week, field trips, etc.) we are only on the letter I. Today we wrote I am From poems. The I am From form originated with a poem by George Ella Lyon entitled, “Where I’m From.” Alan Wolf writes about the form in his book, Immersed in Verse. We begin by analyzing Lyon’s poem which uses some wonderful literary elements, specificity, imagery, alliteration, metaphor. Then the students make their own lists of sites, sounds, and tastes from their own lives. The challenge comes when you want to make the poem go beyond the personal to the universal. I have tried this form several times, and I’m never totally happy with the results. For last year’s attempt and some student samples, click here.

My students are continuing to post on their Slice of Life kidblog
, so click the link to read some of their poems. Be sure to leave a comment.

I am from Sunday drives to Morton,
kisses from Grandmother, Aunt Laurie, and Sister,
picking pecans, and the musty smell
of homemade quilts and old tobacco.

I am from Beechcrest Drive,
running behind the sno-cone truck,
catching fireflies, and roller-skating
on the driveway, cartwheels in the grass.

I’m from climbing Paw Paw’s pink mimosa tree,
listening to loud opera,
From jumping on the trampoline
singing “Shimmy, Shimmy, my playmate,
Come out and play with me!”

I’m from loyal companions Loopy then Lucky,
from Bless-this-food-to-our-use
at every supper, surrounded by yellow-flowered
curtains in a bay window.

I am from the solid soil of Mississippi,
deep roots of oak and pine,
legacy of patience and drawl.

c) Margaret Simon

Easter photo with me, the oldest sitting, my brother and my younger sister.

Easter photo with me, the oldest sitting, my brother and my younger sister.

There are so many great poetry month happenings in the blogoshere. Today, I am the guest blogger at Caroline Starr Rose’s blog site, Caroline by Line. Please stop in and leave a comment. Check out the progress of the progressive poem by clicking on the date in the right side bar. I am following Greg Pincus at GottaBook. He posts a poem each day. Heidi Mordhorst is building a poem at My Juicy Little Universe, 30 days, 30 words. She chooses a different word from the comments each day to add to the poem. An interesting process. Happy Poetry Month!

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