Columnist Dounia Bertuccelli is back with a second round of poems composed by Third Culture Kids in answer to that vexed “where are you from?” question.
Hello Displaced Nationers, global nomads, expats, Third Culture Kids and other curious travelers! Since the last time my column appeared, I trust you have moved on from an enjoyable summer (or winter, for our friends in the Southern Hemisphere) to a splendid fall (or spring).
In celebration of the change in seasons, I’d like to present the second post in my series of TCK poetry here at the TCK Talent column. If you missed the first, be sure to check it out here. As I explained then, the poems are the work of a group of 11th and 12th graders at an international school in Malta. Their teacher wanted them to think more deeply about what “home” means for them, given that they are all growing up in more than one country.
Perhaps because I never even lived in the country of my ancestry (Lebanon), I find it endlessly fascinating to read what these young people had to say in response to the fundamental TCK question: where are you from? The older I get, the more I realize that, although there are places I feel more connected to and that hold a big piece of my heart, I’m definitely not “from” any of these places. I don’t belong entirely to any of them.
And by now I’ve also grown used to the bittersweet flavor of living in-between. At the same time, I feel confident that, given the choice, I would do it all over again—because the sweet far outweighs the bitter.
See what you think of the poems below, readers. Are the young writers on the road to the place where I am now: can they taste more sweet than bitter?
* * *
Where I’m From
By Arabella Ovesen
I am from the tall coconut tree
towering over a blue sea
where the Rhum Runner runs
under the midnight sun.
I’m from the yellow, luxurious castle
Azzurra where father taught me to dazzle.
But one day we went up north,
back to the Vikings’ home
where they work back and forth
in a frozen zone.
And that day, I lost my
Spice Ilse throne.
I’m from the pure white snow
of the Northern Pole.
From being surprised;
At the age of fourteen,
they didn’t want to survive.
I’m from time being slow, dark.
A place where Caribbean purity
lost its innocence,
and left a burnt mark.
Arabella is from Grenada; she has also lived in Malta and Sweden.
Where I’m From
By Clarissa Meyringer
I am from trams
From steel and cement
I am from cold, glistening snow,
It feels like whipped cream.
I am from the towering pines,
giants whose evergreen leaves
were sharp like knives.
I’m from horses of stone
From Fabio and Ben
I’m from the jokers
And the loners
From turning and turmoil
I’m from shadows,
Seen, never heard or spoken of.
I’m from the shallow sea, crystalline.
From the late night snacks
of my grandmother,
The dangerous soccer fan tales of my uncle
I’m from lore and religion, Supernatural;
A friendship with Luci, Castiel and an alliance with Crowley.
On a wall in my room is a drawing
A breathtaking sight
A crayon mess
I am from that place—
Chaotic and free—
Clarissa is Austrian-Italian; she was living in Malta at the time of writing.
Where I’m From
By Gianluca Chincoli
I’m from the mixed sounds of farm animals
The mud, those painful marble stairs, and a giant old farmhouse.
I am from fresh air and immense woods
Extending in all directions like a green ocean.
I’m from those two spiteful creatures
That made my life a horror and a fight since the beginning.
I am from big toothless smiles to every stranger
And all those cheeky jokes we crew of three planned every day.
I’m from the wind of the night and the day,
Warm and cold, strong and weak like a zephyr.
On those plastic crafts with sails it was always a tough adventure
But the prizes were always priceless.
I’m from the screamings of my father
New experiences, like no one else in the world.
I am from the orange porch of golden sunsets,
Where the wolf was acting drama in front of the innocent children.
From Italy, Gianluca has been living in Malta.
* * *
We love to hear from our readers, so please leave any thoughts, questions, suggestions, and yes, poetry in the comments!
Born in Nicosia, Cyprus, to Lebanese parents, Dounia Bertuccelli has lived in France, UK, Australia, Philippines, Mexico, and the USA—but never in Lebanon. She writes about her experiences growing up as a TCK and adjusting as an adult TCK on her blog Next Stop, which is a collection of prose, poetry and photography. She also serves as the managing editor of The Black Expat; Expat Resource Manager for Global Living Magazine; and is a freelance writer and editor. Currently based on the East Coast of the United States, she is happily married to a fellow TCK who shares her love for travel, music and good food. To learn more about Dounia, please read her interview with former TCK Talent columnist Lisa Liang. You can also follow her on Twitter.
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All photos from Pixabay except:
– Photo of Rum Runner boat in Grenada: 1252 Rhum Runner II in Grenada (19), by Mark Morgan via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).
– Photo of Italian football fans: AC Mailand – VfL Wolfsburg (2:2), by funky1opti via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).
– NOTE: The final photo (from Pixabay) is of a hiking path in the Garda Mountains, in northern Italy.
I am from Costa Rica. I am from eternal spring with blue skies and billowing clouds that sometimes rush in from both coasts and clash in the middle in a torrential downpour…..I might say I am from Greece where we moved when I was but weeks old. And my first sentence was “Thélo̱ pso̱mí” (I want bread)…I am from Colombia … I am from cool mountains with orchids and flower farms, hot beaches and lowlands… I remember flying over jungles and snow peaked volcanoes…- from a lifetime ago…… And now I am from California. From warm days and cool nights, egalitarian people, incredible spring wildflowers, tall redwoods, beaches, and deserts …
I wrote this excerpt in a post by the same title in 2014: https://cindamackinnon.wordpress.com/2014/09/18/where-are-you-from/
Thanks so much for sharing your poem here! It’s beautiful and evocative. (I also enjoyed your full blog post and the beautiful photos).