October 18–19, 2019
Radisson Blu, Bucharest
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October 19, 2015

Where I’m From: The collective poem that ended #Story15

This year's conference had a special ending: a collective poem that the speakers read in front of the audience.


Since the first day of the conference, Jacqui Banaszynski told the participants that she would collect their words for a personal project that she would reveal the next day.

Inspired by the work of George Ella Lyon, she asked for personal confessions about important places, tastes, sounds, people, moments and passions – all written down on post-its.

As it turned out, she used all of these to create a collective poem that she and the other speakers read out loud at the end of the second day, as a gift to all of us.

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It was simple and it was big. It was unexpected and emotional. It was the perfect ending to a fifth edition centered on A sense of Place.

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For more images from The Power of Storytelling, go to our official Facebook page.

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Below you can watch the live performance and read the poem you’ve all created together and put together by Jacqui:

Where I’m From: A rough-draft masterpiece group story-poem “youfie”

Bucharest, Oct. 9-10, 2015

I am from the building where my mother used to live as a child and a young adult, before my father.

Before me.

From the bricked wall of a warehouse behind my block of flats

And the place where I can meet a new stranger every day.

From postcards on my desk wall

And my rented one-room apartment with my boyfriend in it.

I am from my mother’s face every time she sees me come into her home.

My daughters’ sleeping face, a reminder of what love means.

The most peaceful blue eyes framed by the most golden curls.

From plane-spotting at night on a field.

Hundreds of birds making their way into the day.

Flowers, two squirrels in a tree, the train station.

Trees, trees, trees.

From sauvage beach in Goa, India.

Cismigiu Garden.

Darkness.

I’ll show you a picture on my phone.

I am from the news on the radio, a football match on TV and dancing music from the neighbors, all while doing my homework.

From rock meets alternative meets heavy metal.

A guitar trill.

No music.

From the sound of the city at nighttime when there’s nobody on the streets.

A breath in a room where you are alone.

A gurgling coffee machine.

Birds in the forest.

The rattle of thunder in the might.

My Whatsapp alert.

From the squeak of the floor of my ballet class.

Angry steps on the wooden stairs.

Bones cracking.

Slammed gates.

A death rattle.

I am from my baby’s laugh

.…

I am from Angelica, Ene, Ortansa, Constantin.

Filofteia.

Anastaisa.

Minerva, Tacu, Johnny, Cati.

From my great grandmother’s name, that we believed she changed because it sounded too Jewish.

From Radita and Niculiua and Cornelia.

I am from the innocent love of two teenagers,

And the “I wish I had never gotten married and given birth to you.”

From “you think you know everything”

To “don’t get lost”

And “wear clean undies!”

From my grandma teaching me how to read before anyone else.

My music teacher who thought I could sing when my mother didn’t.

And that blond teacher who taught me what hate was.

From all the men I’ve ever been with,

And my 6-year-old brother letting me explain to his entire class what “fuck” means.

From my best friend thousands of kilometers away.

And those who didn’t speak the same language as me.

I am from motorbike riding and paragliding and swimming,

A seaside view room after a chilly walk on the empty beach.

A mattress.

A basement.

The tool shed roof.

The internet.

From my study at home,

And the 6th floor apartment where he rested his hands on my stomach and his head on my head.

From Marakesh

And my lambada yellow skirt.

My father’s house in the mountains with only the sound of wind as a background.

And Gallifrey, the home world of the Time Lords

I am from an oil knife painting,

And taking photos as eternal memories.

I am from fear of what I love.

Fear that blocks me but makes me feel alive.

Fear I need never to leave my brain because it’s the only thing that keeps the two of us alive.

From a fear of birds

And losing my teeth.

Of insects

And that my father will die

Where nothing and everything is possible in the same time.

Where my son’s eyes glitter when he spots me.

I am from the taste of my grandfather’s stewed peas

My grandma’s sour cherry jelly

Fruit with unpronounceable names that only exist in my childhood.

Watermelon and cheese

Bland hospital food and dry vodka at weddings

From tastes that are wet and intrusive

Wood in the winter and sand in the summer.

Sweat that drips in my eyes, especially sometimes when I run

And I don’t know if I’m sweating or crying.

From a kissing game when I was lucky enough to be kissed by exactly the boy I fancied.

I am from biscuits and lemon.

Mold, mice and smoke.

Cauliflower and boiled potatoes cooked too long.

From a cookie jar and toast and coffee.

The smell of coffee all day long mixed with the rich food my grandmother would make.

Sarmale warming the entire home on Christmas eve.

Gasoline and Christmas-tree shaped air freshener.

From shoe stores that smell like journeys.

My grandfather’s B.T. cigarettes.

A musty basement and linden trees after summer showers.

Freshly cut grass.

I thought January 2003 had the smell of death until I realized it had the smell of grief.

It wasn’t the smell of burning candles and a still body. It was pain.

I am from a kiss the night before and waking up with his sweet perfume in my hair.

He wasn’t my lover.

From my perfume on his skin, Lacoste White, which I went to smell in Sephora after the breakup because I missed him.

From the smell of five nights violently loving each other

But knowing his Casio watch will dictate our timelessness.

It hits me like a train on a track because he’s not here anymore, and although it’s his cologne I’m feeling, it’s on a body of a stranger passing me by on the subway.

I am from the touch of my favorite laptop keyboard.

From the button I ripped out from my father’s leather coat when he had to leave me in the hospital for an operation when I was 4.

And the three rings on my left hand which keep me calm when my OCD is crushing me.

From my mother’s slap.

From breast cancer

And a hollow shoulder

And the loneliness of not being touched

From being soaked in the nakedness of the moon.

I am from 9 years old, falling from a tree, the day I broke my hand.

From centre court tickets to the Wimbledon seminfinals,

When I fell in love

And realized I have to end a 7-year relationship.

From the surprise party my friends threw for my 17th anniversary, when I felt more loved than ever.

I am from champagne and Corn Puffs on Morii Lake in Bucharest.

From the day I lost my innocence.

From the first note written to me by a boy.

And surprising notes from my husband while he travels alone.

The day I felt my baby kicking,

The day I saw my own child take out of my cut belly.

From the day my father hit me.

And the day I learned to truly forgive.

I am from within my own heart.

I am from the day that didn’t happen yet.