All the Voices: Our Political Family Trees

All the Voices: Our Political Family Trees

  Political beliefs are so polarized that even some family members aren’t speaking to each other. Here’s your chance to speak Across the Great Divide and share how your beliefs came to be!  

This spring, 150 straight-from-the-heart poems or short statements of why you believe what you believe will be selected for a new book by City Lore and Bowery Poetry. The result will be All the Voices – a book in which EVERYBODY’S voice, all across the spectrum, will be Heard and Respected. 

Poems or statements must begin with “I am from…“ and use “I am from…” at least one more time.  Our maximum length is 23 lines. We are looking for poems that tell a story about the evolution of your beliefs, rather than those that simply state a political position. The poems we are looking for are, in a sense, your political family tree.

Authors of selected poems will receive $50 and a copy of the book. Others will have their poems featured on our Facebook page.

Send poems via email to . Include name, city and state, age and phone number – this information will not be used for any purpose other than the book. 

Deadline: midnight, September 30, 2022. There is no submission fee. Please don’t hesitate to write if you have questions.

Steve and Bob




The poet George Ella Lyon’s family ran a dry cleaning shop in Harlan, Kentucky.  She began her poem, “Where I’m From” this way –

I am from clothespins,

from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.

I am from dirt under the back porch . . .


I’m from the know-it-alls

and the pass-it-ons,

from Perk up! and Pipe down!

I’m from He restoreth my soul

with a cottonball lamb

and ten verses I can say myself.

Inspired by her poem we are gathering a particular kind of “Where I’m from” poem that aims to bring people together across the divisions that are tearing our country apart.  Here are some questions which can tease out a poem from you about who you are as a citizen of this country. Answer the ones that spark ideas in you.

What personal experiences and people have shaped your ideas about what kind of country we should be?

Who shaped your values and beliefs about society – your parents, grandparents, friends, people you admire?

When was the first time you became aware of “politics”?

Did your parents take you with them into the voting booth?

Does your family talk politics at the dinner table? Has this changed over the years?

In what ways do you express your beliefs about how our society should be run (letters, conversations, protests, voting)?

What would you say are the reasons you believe what you believe?  What truths do you believe to be self-evident?