Jo Carson is a Southern writer with deep roots—in her case to the town and even the house in East Tennessee where her grandparents lived before her. Her sense of place and roots led her to write a book of poems based on conversations she overheard around her. Jo Carson's friend George Ella Lyons was inspired by one of these poems. She jotted down her own images of where she came from, and then made the poem "Where I'm From." Since then, the poem has been used around the world as a writing prompt, helping both adults and children write poems made up of images of where they are from.
Here is the poem "Where I'm From:"
I am from clothespins,
from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the back porch.
it tasted like beets.)
I am from the forsythia bush
the Dutch elm
whose long-gone limbs I remember
as if they were my own.
I'm from fudge and eyeglasses,
from Imogene and Alafair.
I'm from the know-it-alls
and the pass-it-ons,
from Perk up! and Pipe down!
I'm from He restoreth my soul
with a cottonball lamb
and ten verses I can say myself.
I'm from Artemus and Billie's Branch,
fried corn and strong coffee.
From the finger my grandfather lost
to the auger,
the eye my father shut to keep his sight.
Under my bed was a dress box
spilling old pictures,
a sift of lost faces
to drift beneath my dreams.
I am from those moments —
snapped before I budded
leaf-fall from the family tree.