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Becoming a Poet


Kwame Alexander is the award-winning author of The Undefeated, the Crossover series, and many other books. This fall, he’ll release a new book with author James Patterson called Becoming Muhammed Ali. It’s a biographical novel about the boxing legend.

For our special issue all about writing, Alexander shared an excerpt from the book with TIME for Kids. Read it below. Then follow his instructions to create your own poem.

A where-I’m-from poem is a collection of memories of important times, places, and people from our past that draws on all five senses. In my novel Becoming Muhammad Ali, I use this type of poem to tell you a little about where Muhammad Ali came from.

To create your own where-I’m-from poem, begin brainstorming things from your past— details about the home and the neighborhood where you grew up, sayings and phrases that you used or heard, favorite foods, and names of important people and relatives. Now select the most interesting phrases and organize them into a draft, just like mine. Write on!

*Poem above excerpted from Becoming Muhammad Ali, by James Patterson and Kwame Alexander (Jimmy Patterson Books/HMH Books for Young Readers). Used by permission of the author.