This past Wednesday The Center for Public Humanities visited Harrisburg’s Marshall Elementary School to host an “I Am From” poetry workshop for 6th graders. The student poems were diverse, each of their young authors growing from different places in the world, and each expressing where they’re from with an honest, happy sense of clarity. After seeing their creativity and eagerness to write, a poetic zeal has been passed on, and I will introduce myself en suite.
I am from New Jersey, but only lived there ‘till I was eight
I am from North Carolina, where dead sod replaced snow,
I am from Virginia, where the Civil War is yesterday,
I am from Texas, where not much changed.
I am from my mother, Irish German and catholic outside New York,
And my father, light dark skin, but dark for a rock’s throw.
I am as my brothers, a mixed product of mixed genes,
Consecrated American interracial pedigree,
Like Pennsylvania, surreal itself,
As if Dallas and Charlotte thrown onto hills,
I am from Philly, where hearts stretch around center city,
I am from New York City, where the people stay a live in burrows,
I am from north of Richmond, south of Nutley, north of Grapevine and Fort Worth.
I am from Harrisburg, concomitant rich and poor,
I am from my neighbors’ market, a bit of bones in the stew.
Daniel Smyth is the Project Coordinator for the Center for Public Humanities. He’s lived in the Harrisburg area for much of his adult life. Before Harrisburg, he received a master’s degree in Critical Theory & the Arts and has worked as an art and culture writer, teacher, and writing tutor. As Project Coordinator, he hopes to act as a bridge between Messiah College and the local Harrisburg community.
Above image by Marketa, used with permission under a Creative Commons License.