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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Where the I Comes From

  • Author(s): Kwong-Brown, Ursula
  • Advisor(s): Melford, Myra
  • et al.


Where the I Comes From


Ursula Kwong-Brown

Doctor of Philosophy in Music

and the

Designated Emphasis in New Media

in the

Graduate Division

University of California, Berkeley

Professor Myra Melford, Chair

I first read Josh Bell’s poem “Where the I Comes From” in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, at a time when it seemed like America was being torn apart by class and racial conflict. The poem spoke to me because it so honestly describes the propensity for violence which is hidden inside each of us. It is easy to blame one another for our country’s current state of xenophobia and the daily destruction of our democratic institutions, but much harder to recognize the seeds of jealousy, narcissism and hatred within ourselves. We must see our own faults clearly before we can find the common humanity from which we can address everyone – even our enemies – with love and compassion.

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