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Roots



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“I am, in all of my deepest identifications, a Northener.” So begins Sven Birkerts' essay, "Opposite of South".
 
Where do you belong, dear writers, and how does your ancestry inform this identity?
 
Read the beginning of Sven Birkerts' essay, "Opposite of South," below, noticing how he weaves his family's ancestry with his own sense of belonging. Then write your own reflection about your family roots.

If you don't know much about your ancestry, this could be a perfect opportunity to ask your relatives what they might know about past generations. Alternatively, you could focus your reflection on a particular geography (as Birkert does with "north" here), exploring how place has shaped your sense of who you are.

I am, in all of my deepest identifications, a Northener. Genetic background goes a long way toward laying the base. I am a first-generation Latvian American, and both sides of the family, as far back as we can trace, hail from places no more than a hundred kilometers on either side of the fifty-seventh parallel. All of the stories I grew up with, from the lives of my parents and their ancestors and from the books that my mother read to me, were somehow rooted in the geography and climate of that part of the world. Simple primary saturations: forests, winters, and the surges of the Baltic Sea, which has always figured in my imagination, rightly or wrongly, as cold and gray. And while my first vocabulary was Latvian, those sounds forever holding the deepest emotional associations, I have nevertheless always thrilled to the words north and northern whenever I have encountered them.

For further inspiration, check out exemplar works "Ireland In My Blood" by annaocxo and "Red and Gold" by FizzyBaguette.