"Where I am From" Poems by Calabrian High School Students

Poems written by high school students in Vibo Valentia, Italy

Based on the work of George Ella Lyon

Edited by Eva Pedriglieri


For decades, the southern region of Calabria, "the toe of the boot" as one student wrote in their poem, has received a lot of hate and discrimination from the northern Italians. This is a sentiment that affects my students, colleagues, and many locals I've encountered very profoundly. Though there are indeed many shortcomings in Calabria, with faulty infrastructure, lack of resources, and the elephant in the room that another student referred to as an act of "violence and silence" in their poem, it is impossible to generalize this region based solely on the negatives. My students know the riches and beauty their land represents. They wrote their poems to highlight where they come from with a sense of pride and joy that is inspirational.


Based on the work of George Ella Lyon, a poet and writer from Kentucky, I engaged my students in this creative writing activity to make them recognize that those special moments they remember from childhood and the cultural traditions they practice everyday--from Calabria, Vibo, Pizzo, Tropea, Italia--are all art worthy of being shared.


Some poems from my students:

I am from Ipponion or Monteleone I am from the sun and sweat I am from silence and violence I am from Sunday visits to my grandmother I am from folklore and tarantella I am from Vincenzo Ammirà I am from beauty ruined by ignorance


I am from where we eat pizza with our hands I am from where the smell of food gets into your head I am from where you hear old men and women screaming and then laughing very loud I am from where you can see both the sea and the mountains just a few meters away


I am from green hills which are

caressed by the scent of sea

I love everything concerned with nature, its smells,

Its creatures embraced my life.

From a story of humble Greek or Latin people

to an amazing hospitality code.

I am from a criticized country,

pervaded by a sense of uncertainty.

But I manage to find inspiration by the semplicità of food,

And the breath of sunsets.

In this way I hide myself in this beauty.


I am from nduja land. We spread to America, an example is Lucky Luciano. I am from a land that was rebuilt after an earthquake. Life was not easy but the hope for resurrection was great. I am proud to be one of them and not one from northern Italy who stole our fortunes.


I am from sweet grandmothers I am from narrow dialects I am from the sea and corona sale e limone I am from cin cin pizza I am from affrontata I am from hearty people I am from great family lunches I am from the only city in the world without McDonalds I am from spicy food


I am from “Ci vediamo sul viale alberato”

I am from fileja with tomato sauce

I am from the Sunday lunch at grandma’s

I am from the pasticcini that you receive when you have guests

I am from the Sunday midnight cornetto after dinner

I am from the kisses on the cheek when you greet someone

I am from the “pizza o panino?” on Saturday nights

I am from some of the best sea localities of Italy

I am from “Andiamo a prendere un gelato”

I am from “Mamma mia” for every situation


I come from the most beautiful country, the Calabrian Zante,

where there are more churches than inhabitants

I come from the nature that Venus created

I come from the country that has only the name of a saint

I come from the place where your clear clouds and your branches

draw reverberation from the Cucco fountain

I sing the town where the pastry shops are more numerous than the supermarkets

I come from the place where the “affruntata” counts more than the election of the mayor.

Earth, you will have nothing but the son's song, or maternal Earth.


I am from a chaotic place full of noisy people with great energy and happiness always sunny and positive


I am From the land where the great Greek gods used to live I am from the place where you burn as soon as the sun’s out I am from the spiciest place you can taste I am from the breeze of Africa I am from the warmth of Mother Nature I am from the Ancient Magna Grecia I am from the smell of wet leaves I am from my grandma’s lasagnas I am from the sound of my people’s laugh I am from the place where my heart melts as soon as I hear nduja


I’m from the town of the ice cream

I’m from where the sea looks like the blue sky

I’m from the land where the people feel like family

I’m from the place I consider my home forever

I’m from the sunrise that warms my heart every time I see it

I’m from the garden where I spent my childhood

I’m from rides with a scooter in-between loads of cars

I’m from the long walks where I look around and realize how beautiful the view is

I’m from the moments in which I’m grateful I was born here

I’m from Pizzo Calabro


I’m from dancing in my room like nobody’s watching

I’m from fake butterflyes on my wall

I’m from eating chocolate when i study

I’m from listening to 70’s rock


We are from colouring children’s books

We are from sleeping in a bed all 3 of us

We are from laughing for everything

We are from arguing for stupid things and then hugging


I’m from the sea, because even if I was born in January

my heart belongs to the summer season.

I’m from the sand that is wet by the waves and

the starfish on the shore.

I’m from swimming offshore where everything is silent and

below me an infinite expanse of water full of fish.

I’m from sunrises and sunsets at the sea.

bonfires on the beach and long walks with ice cream in hand.

From days of having fun in the water with friends.

I’m from Tropea and Capo Vaticano.

I’m from Tyrrhenian Sea❤️


I am from Schiavello’s “crocchette di patate”

I am from ice-cream after the beach

I am from clean streets only for Giro d’Italia

I am from beautiful sunsets almost every day

I am from “sagra della nduja”

I am from “allerta meteo” when it’s sunny

I am from my nonna’s lasagna

I am from the saltiness of your skin from June to August

I am from BBB’s gin lemon and chips

I am from the poor Christmas lights in the main street

I am from the view from the castle of Vibo

I am from eating pizza on the shore watching the red sunset

I am from homemade things and the smell of fried at 6 am

I am from “calippo al limone” in August when it’s 40 °C in the shade

I am from “affruntata” of Easter

I am from little towns and big hearts


I’m from Ruggero by Altavillas of Normandy

from the cathedrals

from art

from earthquakes

from Garibaldi’s stop

The other part of me is from “o sol”

From “o mar”

From “o cor”

From pizza and from good people


I am from the beautiful countryside I am from olive oil I am from Nduja’s home I am from the amazing sea I am from the football region I am from the region where it’s important to eat twice as much on Sundays I am from mafia’s country I am from Calabria.