Claire: Culture

I’m giving my seniors an assignment to write about their own culture or cultures in the hopes of having a rich discussion about what culture is and how we create, understand, change, or encounter culture. I’m going to give them some models of some personal writing in different forms, but I wanted to write a poem myself to share with them. I want to invite them to locate their ideas of their own culture not in abstractions but in concrete images–specific snapshots from their lives. In this way, when we workshop the writing, I hope to get them to a more specific understanding of how culture works and applies to all of us, not just to those out there who come from cultures that are different from our own.I don’t want my poem to be too polished, and I want my students to know that they won’t be able to get everything in there, but I want it to be personal, so here it is. I hope you enjoy reading it!


I am from green quilted fields, and coiling roads, and ashen skies.

I am a patchwork of the quiet moments that reared me,

where I watched the cows amble home

and the sun dip behind the heavy hills.

I am that schoolhouse in Ireland, decaying yet dignified still,

where my childhood footsteps first registered,

and still reverberate—in rural rememberings—

I am story after story after story.


I am fresh bare feet on cold, wet grass, laughing my way over hurdles

as the farmers look on, smoking their cigarettes, stomping their wellied feet.

I am socks on a path and spikes on tracks

on hot afternoons in a Florida daze,

saving my spirit with Florida rains.

I am many pairs of runners, worn and replaced.

I am rock walls, littered city streets, scattered suburban parks:

I am step after step after step.


I am streetcar adventures in New Orleans,

boiled crawfish and potatoes,

po’boys and oysters and chowder.

I am lazy laundromat and library days

I am scholar, sinner, saint—

A lonely girl without a place.

I am a sunflower, strong but often without grace:

I am dance after dance after dance.


I am mother, sister, daughter, partner, teacher, friend

I am seven siblings saying the rosary

and one perfect child holding my hand.

I am love,

sundry and soiled;

I am words and writing and work.

I am chore and choir and cheer:

I am Claire after Claire after Claire.


KHP - work on carving continued.  Just focusing this week

KHP – work on carving continued. Just focusing this week

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6 Responses to Claire: Culture

  1. khpixler says:

    I am trying to pick out my favorite part to share but I will have to continue with my generic cheer. I love this the patchwork, the quilt, the laughing over hurdles, I love this after this after this:-) it also makes me miss my HS students and teaching in the art room so much. Thank you for a wonderful early morning read.

  2. Jan says:

    Wow! Terrific poem Claire! I really love it. And it tells your ongoing story of life and love!

  3. Kristen R. says:

    One of my favorite posts to date. I love this!

  4. wwwmama says:

    You guys are awesome, my personal cheer squad.

  5. Pingback: Claire: On Writing and Truth | Making It Daily

  6. leslie says:

    Lovely imagery being coaxed out of each reader by your words

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