Zachary McCallum


English 1121-D398 (Prof. Scanlan)

Poetry Explication



Explication of Where I’m From by Willie Perdomo


“Where I’m From” gives a deep description of the area in which the author lives. When a woman asks where the speaker is from, he remembers the positive and negative occurrences in his neighborhood. Willie Perdomo’s description gives the poem a tone in which things that appear to be alarming compared to the norm is quite standard to where he lives. With his words he manages to show the readers the hidden allure of where he is from masked by negative occurrences. The speaker subtly describes the injustice in his community with a tone of aggravation. He gives the readers a glimpse of the relationship his neighbors have with the police in his area. This includes him describing the pointless harassment and murders of the people in his neighborhood. The two lines in the middle of the poem; “Where I’m from, the police come into your house without knocking. They throw us off rooftops and say we slipped,” are one of the most significant lines in this poem. These lines represent symbolism and have assonance that describe the exploitation in his area. The explication of these two lines will describe the injustice of the people in his community that seem to be a norm.

In the first line, “Where I’m from, the police come into your house without knocking,” Willie Perdomo shows the readers the abuse of power by authority in his neighborhood. The tone of this line shows that the author is annoyed. I can tell he is irritated through his choice of words. He says “without knocking” as if the police do not have the right to be in his or anybody else’s house without warning. Even though, this line is very straight forward it also symbolizes the lack of freedom that the people in his area have. The police in his community have made people feel unsafe in their own home just because they are able to. The author uses assonance in the first line with the words from and come which gives that part of the poem a certain flow.

The second line, “They throw us off rooftops and say we slipped,” the speaker uses graphic imagery to show the readers the perilous injustice that goes on in his neighborhood. Based off this line it shows the deaths of people in his community in which the police have not taken accountability for. He also shows how the police can get away with their wrongdoing by being untruthful. This line is very straight forward and easy to understand. He narrates his community’s unpleasant run ins with the authority. Willie Perdomo describes it in a way as if it is something that he is not pleased about but accepts. He realizes that there are just some things that cannot be changed where he is from. Even though, he comes to terms with the tyranny in where he lives, it is clear it still puts on him edge.

With these lines combined, Willie Perdomo exposes the inequality that the people in his community face. The speaker skillfully describes his everyday life in which the things that seem to be normal to him should not really be normal at all. Even though, I chose two lines from the poem that highlight the negative, the author also chose to show the positive in his neighborhood. He ends his poem on a positive note which shows the multidimensionality of where he is from. Although most of the poem is related to violence, class issues, and the grapple of the author’s neighborhood, the last stanza exhibits an instance of beauty, morality, and the affinity that we have with family.


(623 words)