Photographs by Alicia Wilkinson and Dan Rahe
Post Defiance is proud to partner with Write@253 to present a series of poems written by students at First Creek Middle School.
Write@253 is a nonprofit that seeks to “inspire the writer that lives in everyone.” They hold classes and mentoring activities in cooperation with Tacoma Public Schools, working extensively in Tacoma’s south side middle schools. Write@253 also operate out of their writing center on Martin Luther King Jr. Way through the Spaceworks program.
Community volunteers from various agencies including Write@253 were brought together by Noah Prince of Tacoma 360 and Rachel Smith-Mosel, Instructional Coach of First Creek Middle School for a student summit. Over 100 students joined with community leaders to share and compose their I Am From poems as a celebration of the rich diversity that is the Eastside.
The students’ poetry follows a structure derived from the poem “Where I’m From” by George Ella Lyon, and the poems powerfully reveal the diverse backgrounds that make each of these Tacoma students unique.
Allowing the reader to fully experience these poems, the “I Am From” poems will be presented in two parts.
I Am From the Hilltop
by Jason Salazar
I am from the Hilltop where we build cars for shows – low rides.
I am from a town with gangs and drug dealers and where you hear cops a lot.
I am from a place where it was hard growing up with addiction around me.
I am from fried chicken and kool aid.
I am from pitbulls and walls full of movies and big TVs
I am from a family with Diabetes, from Pacific Islanders and culture.
I am from family reunions, fixing cars, and volleyball.
I am from Mac and Cheese and Texas Toast.
I am from Christ.
I from a mom who did what she could to raise me when my sister’s dad died.
I am from moving place to place and sometimes it’s hard to say goodbye.
I Am From My Mirror
by Kylie Waddill
I am from my mirror, from a lamp and chair.
I am from a small household, a warm household.
I am from the Christmas tree; from the roses my neighbor grows.
I’m from movie night and respecting each other, from my mom and my grandma.
I’m from crying over little things and starting arguments, and from supporting family through thick and thin.
I’m from respecting your elders and protecting your family and sharing is caring.
I’m from taking the long way for the better view.
I’m from St. Joes and Native Americans, fried chicken and mashed potatoes.
From going to treatment to get back what is rightfully yours because you couldn’t go on without them.
I am from doing everything you are told because you care.
I am from the pictures of my past in a box in my closet to look back and see how easy life was.
I Am From Jordans and Nikes
by Ka’Shawna Singleton
I am from Jordans and Nikes
From curling irons and hot combs
I am from fresh air and hopping fences
I am from jasmines and roses who are strong and wise
I am from an urn of ash
From Singletons and Hollands
I am from red velvet cake and grits
and from respect and switches
I am from John 3:16
I am from Fajitas and Fried Chicken
from slavery and segregation.
I am from those moments at Silverwood.
I Am From
by Mariah Cooper
I am from my cellular device, from talk and text.
I am from the cold and wetness of Tacoma.
I am from the evergreen pine trees.
I’m from nativity festivals and hanging out with my friends, my mom and my best friends.
I’m from yelling and making up, and from the love, care, and support.
I’m from the myths and stories and the happy love story of a princess.
I’m from the festival of the nativity.
I’m from Tacoma and America, cultured foods and juicy fruits.
From my mom who went through struggles and yet stayed strong, our photo albums of our memories in the cabinet but always in our hearts.