Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Where I'm From

I am from wooden spoons, from Tide detergent and sheets dried on the clothesline.

I am from the clapboard house with the sloping bedroom ceilings in a prairie town ... from snow, sky, and bitter cold wind that takes your breath away.

I am from the white birch trees, the loons calling across the lake at twilight.

I am from military service and orneriness, from Grandpa Gardie and Frazers and Vandergons.

I am from the nature lovers and the dog lovers.

From watching the thermometer climb to 70 before going in the lake and waiting an hour after lunch to go back in.

I am from St. Olaf Lutheran, spire stretching to the sun, singing bells on Sunday morning, from potluck suppers and Special K bars.

I'm from North Dakota and Norway, lutefisk and lefse.

From the international menu Christmas dinners at Grandma Sally's, the square dances called in Grandpa Don's basement, and mom's Delft pottery in the glass cabinet.

I am from scrapbooks, file cabinets and my cluttered attic bedroom, from hardy prairie pioneers, from sodbusting, subsistence farming, and a desire for more opportunity for the next generation. I am from quick wits, reverence for education, and patriots who believed in hard work, responsibility, and the promise of America.


This piece was inspired by several "Where I'm From" poems written on blogs in 2007. Many of those posts credited this website as a source and inspiration. I loved the exercise, and I hope you liked the results.

Update: George Ella Lyon is the originator of this poem, and did me the honor of visiting my blog and leaving a comment. Her Where I'm From poem can be found here. Reading the first poem born of this writing prompt (not just a prompt ... is it a movement? an inspiration? an enlightenment?) has made me decide I will revisit my own piece and add to its depth.

Thank you, Dr. Lyon, for your kind words and the opportunity to share your website and your inspiration with others.


  1. Beautiful poem, Jennifer! I enjoy these and have done this exercise with students many times over the years :)

  2. beautiful! I think I will follow in your footprints for my country's Remembrance Day on November 11th. :D

  3. Loved your WIF poem, Jennifer. I'm the author of the original one. You can hear it on my website,