Friday, September 21, 2007

I am....or not

Lary Kleeman and I teach an integrated U.S. History and Language Arts class to freshmen. Lary has the students creating "I Am From" poems that ask the students to reveal who they are by writing about "what" they are from. Confused? So was I, but it's a great exercise in understanding who you are by looking at the past. To set an example for the students, Lary shared his "I Am From" poem with the students. One line in his poem refers to Binks, the ranch dog, who saved his dad. Without Binks, Lary wouldn't be here, he and I wouldn't be teaching together, students wouldn't know bird calls, etc. Lary has the students present their poems and we heard poetry that conjured up great images and stories to share. Then Lary asked me to present. Now I'm no wallflower, but I don't necessarily enjoy sharing my writing--writing for me is like a window on my soul--perhaps that's why I'm a reluctant blogger. But, I figured if 9th graders could share their writing, if Lary could do birdcalls, I could take a chance and share my poem. So I did. Even for a seasoned professional (or, ancient veteran teacher), I found it hard to recite my poem in front of the kids. Eye contact was hard to make and my stomach lurched, but I did it. Then Lary challenged me to put it on my blog. So I am. No eye contact, but my stomach is lurching...
"Cotton Farmers and Gamblers"
I am from windswept plains and sun-drenched earth.
I am from horny toads, bullfrogs and cockroaches.
I am from kolaches and strudel,
brisk German accents and soft Czech sounds.
I am from high dive acts and circus barkers
and German midgets with smuggled books.
I am from Irish wit and a gambler who died too soon.
I am from "Pack up and go!"
Texas, Louisiana, California, Oklahoma, Colorado
I am from a grandpa who foiled the Klan
and a grandma who waltzed.
I am from cotton farmers and a burned, dead child.
I am from a Texas Aggie, Sul Ross volunteer, a conservative
and a French horn playing drum majorette, a liberal
who treasures the written word.
I am from a grandma who swam with sharks to save me.