Ancestry Poems/Going Inside

T&W writers’ in-class writing prompts and exercises inspired and generated the adapted poem found in A Poem as Big as New York City.  From this imaginative, diverse, massive, and multi-faceted material, an adapted work emerged.  Here’s a peek at one of the lessons that served as the raw clay to shape young writers’ minds.  All lessons were taught in New York City classrooms, but could be adapted to suit your own community and place.

Ancestry Poems/Going Inside

Assuming a poem has been personified and is now its own character, how can it reflect upon its own ancestry? Young writers can use the “Going Inside” exercise from Poetry Everywhere. They can “jump inside” one of their own ancestors or some ancestral object. How was the poem born—to whom was it born? Writers can transpose their own ancestry or unique New York beginnings and represent themselves in the poem.


Me and the Poem jumped inside of my grandmother Laura

and found her all the way in Italy

trying to get to the Statue of Liberty in a boat.

I came with her on the journey she took in 1920!

She told me stories,

we watched the waves…


The Poem jumped inside of my grandmother’s photo,

It traveled past the dust and black and white

To find the souls of my ancestors singing in the night!


The Poem was born in Ireland

and came to New York in 1900.

It likes to rub the Blarney Stone,

It loves the city lights, especially the green lights

because it is reminded of the countryside of Ireland!

Teachers & Writers Magazine

Teachers & Writers Collaborative: