I am from..


I am from prickly pear pads covered with cochinil and from the sticky sweet carpet of yellow mesquite beans. I am from the grape Koolade scent of purple Mountain Laurel in March and the musty flame of sumac leaves in October.


OK, let's take a tiny creative break from all that focus.

I spent half an hour this morning soaring around the blogosphere. The best thing by far I picked up was a wonderful writing exercise on Terry Grant's blog, And Sew It Goes (I followed the trail from one of my regular must-reads -PaMdora's Box).

The premise is to write something based on a evocative poemevocative poem  titled I am from by George Ella Lyon.

This is making its way around the internet (see 2 Lime Leaves), not quite a meme as one doesn't exactly get tagged, but  I hope you'll try it, and if you have a blog, post it there with a comment so we can find it. If  you don't have a blog, just put your version in the comments here or in my next post where I will publish my version! See you tomorrow with poem in hand. Here's the template that started it on its internet voyage, from writer  Fred First in his blog  post on February 18, 2005. He put this together from the original poems structure, I think.

I am from _______ (specific ordinary item), from _______ (product name) and _______.

I am from the _______ (home description... adjective, adjective, sensory detail).

I am from the _______ (plant, flower, natural item), the _______ (plant, flower, natural detail)

I am from _______ (family tradition) and _______ (family trait), from _______ (name of family member) and _______ (another family name) and _______ (family name).

I am from the _______ (description of family tendency) and _______ (another one).

From _______ (something you were told as a child) and _______ (another).

I am from (representation of religion, or lack of it). Further description.

I'm from _______ (place of birth and family ancestry), _______ (two food items representing your family).

From the _______ (specific family story about a specific person and detail), the _______ (another detail, and the _______ (another detail about another family member).

I am from _______ (location of family pictures, mementos, archives and several more lines indicating their worth).

Of course, you can make your own version without the template, too; many of those doing this exercise have done just that. But I think I will enjoy the structure -- open-ended forms like this appeal to me, just like figuring out the size of a potential art quilt seems to be the first step my creative process requires. I like filling in a space with colors, rhythms, lines and shapes and this kind of writing is the literary equivalent, I suppose.


Think of this as a creative breather, something that might take an hour out of your busy day, but that will feel as though you've had a wonderful massage, a walk in the woods, a picnic by the lake -- all without taking much time or gasoline to get there. 

Focus is fine. Necessary and Essential. But we creative beings (and that's all of us) also need to take deep drinks of water from the random universe. Playing around with a not-so-familiar framework or media or idea is often just the thing to renew your energy for that big push.