Monday, June 9, 2014

Where I'm From: Amazing Poems from the Community

I had the honor yesterday of leading a poetry workshop yesterday at Homestead National Monument. Please read the stunning poems that community membersboth children and adults
created in the short amount of time that we spent together. The writers would love it if you posted your favorite lines and images in the Comments (which appears right below this post)and so would I!

Where I’m From
by Brian Crogg

I am from saw dust, arrows, tools, and turkey feathers.
I am from honky tonk music, heater on the wall, breeze
through the screen door.
I am from wood, metal, the taste of blackberry brandy
on a cold winter morning while ice fishing.
I am from John Wayne, football.
I am from hunting seasons, church on Sunday.
I am from wet black labs, my compound bow
in a quiet tree stand at sunrise.
I am from Folsom, West A, where the best
street football games were played.
I am from George’s stubbornness,
Lorraine’s love and for a good time.
I am from apricot trees for when my feelings were hurt.
I am from gardens and flowers.

Where I’m From
by Bailey Crogg, age 10

I am from apple orchards.
I am from my dog licking my face,
friends making me laugh.
I am from the open pastures to play in.
I am from apple crisp, the smell
of cookies and brownies from the oven.
I am from dogs and wolves, their bark and howl.
I am from the birds making music.
I am from the flower and plants growing in the garden.
I am from the pine tree and misty air smell.
I am from my dog swimming
and fishing at the lake.
I am from the crickets chirping at night.

Where I’m From
by Alice Meints

I am from small town Barnston,
rushing water, river banks, sand bars, trees.
I am from mom’s bread, the neighbors’ kolaches,
roller skates and laughter.
I am from family—chores, delivering papers,
babysitting, Monopoly.
I am from outdoors—rainbows, butterflies,
gardens, flowers, swimming in the river.
I am from animals—dog Teddy, baby chicks, goats.
I am from people—John Kennedy, Abe Lincoln, Maya Angelou.
I am from my mother, dad, grandmother Hattie,
father-in-law Ollie.
I am from sports—Nebraska football, volleyball, golf,
softball, Anti-Anti-Over.
I am from local sights and longer trips—to the Blackhills, Colorado.
I am from ham balls, homemade ice cream, shrimp, catfish.

Where I’m From
by Jessica Crogg

I am from blue skies with pine trees all around,
from doves calling and cows mooing.
I am from warm sunshine with rows and rows of corn,
from green grass and cold refreshing water.
I am from steak on the grill with baked potatoes,
from juicy strawberries from the garden.
I am from a quiet country place with a cool breeze,
from a big white grainery and dirt-floored machine shed.
I am from hearing the rhythm of my feet running on the gravel road,
from petting my dog and riding my bike.
I am from tractors working in the field with the rich smell of the earth,
from guineas cackling and fluffing polka dot feathers.
I am from homemade cinnamon rolls
and roast chicken or beef with potatoes and gravy.
I am from church every Sunday and praying in between,
from Rural Route 2 and playing the piano.
I am from Grandma Matzner and Aunt Judy,
always welcoming, always loving, always home.

Where I’m From
by Gavin Crogg, age 7

I am from cheese pizza, hot from the oven. I peel the cheese skin off with my fork.
I am from grass, sometimes wet, sometimes dry.
I am from robins building a nest, making its babies, cheep, cheep, cheep.
I am from spaghetti with shredded cheese.
I am from football, running with the ball and playing defense.
I am from a small, peaceful town with lots of old people.
I am from big, fat, scary bees hanging out by the barn.
I am from a bumpy toad.
I am from my black dog, Morgan, who catches his ball when I throw it.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Making a "living" and the pursuit of happiness

Already on day 7 of my residency at Homestead National Monument. I can't believe that's halfway done. But in those 7 days, I've packed my brain so full of prairie plants and birds and Willa Cather and thoughts about how I want to live...and how home might be a much larger place than the physical structures we find shelter within.

This morning, walking the prairie, I was thinking about the phrase "making a living" and the Declaration of Independence. Particularly, I was thinking about this phrase that we all know so well: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

So we've got the right to live and be free, but we don't have the right to just naturally BE happy. We've got the right to pursue happiness. And that's where sometimes I think I've gotten pretty tripped up. What exactly is this happiness that I'm trying to pursue? And how does that tie in to the idea of "making a living?" Are our lives too cluttered up with stuff, as I heard Dan Deffenbaugh say yesterday at the Willa Cather conference, for us to see our happiness and our living as part of something larger than ourselves? Perhaps a true home?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

"Coming to a New Eden"

Day 2 of my residency at the Homestead National Monument, I've learned about the 1862 Homestead Act and how it gave people (including women and freed slaves) in 30 states the chance at land ownership, as long as they improved or "proved up" their land by living on it and making it agriculturally sustainable. Of course, this same act that helped those who believed they'd never own land of their own took the land away from Native Americans. For Native Americans, the idea of owning land was anathema to their way of thinking. One was on this earth for a short time; it was impossible to believe that a person could own a piece of land and all of the resources upon it.

I read a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson today that I think sums much of this up: "If man owns the land, the land owns him." For better and for worse, I think.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Where I'm from...

I'll be spending the first two weeks of June at the Homestead National Monument as a writer-in-residence where I'll be working on my poetry manuscript-in-progress, The Cold Reaches, which explores many themes relating to home. As someone who has moved in my adult life a fair amount, I'm particularly interested in learning about how others define home. Is it man-made place? A feeling? A piece of land? It is changeable, or has it remained fixed in one's mind? 

So, with that, how do you answer these two questions?

Where are you from? 
Where is home?

I'd love to collect your comments and get some discussions going!