Where Did You Begin?

The second week of the “What If” writing marathon intended to inspire both with my first year writing students and the Just Write virtual writing group explored our origin stories – specifically the questions: where did we begin and where are we from. This creative work built on the Who Are You? writing we did the week before (see Who Are You? for more about the What If unit and inspiration) .

Our work began with “Maxwell Street” by Adam Gottlieb and 2Pac’s “Dear Mama.” We then engaged in some freewriting about the place we call home using these questions for additional inspiration:

  • What does your home smell like?
  • What do people do for work?
  • What are the public places where people gather?
  • What are the important streets and intersections?
  • What are the difficult social issues your home faces?
  • What are the sounds you might hear at 10 p.m. on Saturday night?
  • Who are important historical figures and/or events from your home?
  • What slang do people use in your home?
  • What do people fear in your home?
  • What do they hope for?

We also explored how our beginnings have influenced who we are today beginning with “Where I Am From” by George Ella Lyon, Anthony Hamilton’sComin’ From Where I’m From,” and Digable Planets’Where I’m From.”

Our goal was to celebrate where we began by sharing images (or mixture of images) of our culture and influences. Writing about your culture including the places, people, and influences that have made you who you are can be a powerful creative experience. Remember that no one knows you as you know yourself. You are the expert on you. Trust your perspectives.

Just as with the Who Are You? prompt, we created artifacts (human-made objects of significance) to share with our class community or via social media as part of the #WalkMyWorld community which focused on poetry for these learning experiences. I suggested three possible poetry options for my students: short form poems (Haiku, Tanka, and Sijo), found poetry (such as book spine poetry), or free verse. Just like my students, you are invited to write and create as much as you like based on your current capacity. The important thing is to reflect, write, and create something that tells your story even if the only audience is yourself.