Monday, December 29, 2008


Check out my 10ers post on self-help for writers.

"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail."

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, December 28, 2008


New Year's Eve 1988

11:58 on the clock-face
so you pulled over
to the side of Bradford Road
cheeks glowing green
heat humming
eyes never leaving the dial
fingers poised just so
determined to press the tape in
precisely at midnight.

I wanted you to kiss me.

Instead there was
only U2 thickening
the air between us
you closing your eyes
me shifting
and outside the peely bark
on the birches
bristling against the cold.

- Irene Latham

Ever been in a relationship with someone who, for whatever reasons, couldn't give you what you needed from them?

Sigh. It happens. And the only thing to be done about it is to move on, however difficult that may be.

“I chose and my world was shaken. So what? The choice may have been mistaken; the choosing was not. You have to move on.”

- Stephen Sondheim

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Happy day before!

"I like to compare the holiday season with the way a child listens to a favorite story. The pleasure is in the familiar way the story begins, the anticipation of familiar turns it takes, the familiar moments of suspense, and the familiar climax and ending."

- Mr. Rogers

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Einstein's Daughter

Had she been clock or apple,
compass or moving train,
perhaps Einstein would have loved her.

Had she been mysterious,
he might have abandoned
his affair with gravity and the speed of light

and claimed her
as his most important discovery.
Had he taken her small hands, just once,

and kissed each dimple and nail
perhaps he would have puzzled
over a different theory of relativity,

not of black holes,
but of DNA and blood,
how shared time multiplies

and love's abstractions find
definition in bath time and story time
and leaving the light on, just in case.

Instead, Einstein gave his daughter away,
locked himself in a windowless room
with his violin and pipe,

unlocked the secrets
not of life
but of E=mc2.

- Irene Latham

Did you know Einstein had a daughter? Yes, Mileva gave birth before she and Albert were married. Quite the scandal, of course... and easier (apparently) to relinquish the girl than raise her.

This poem is the second (of two) that appeared this month in the wonderful little journal FREE LUNCH. It is merely my imagination at work after reading a coupla biographies and viewing this exhibit.

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed."

- Albert Einstein

Thursday, December 18, 2008


How's this for a non-holiday image? Thank you, Lynn, for sending it my way.

Don't get me wrong, I love the warm family aspects of the holidays, but not the crowded cranky aspects. So this pic is a balm for me, today, as I make one last mad-dash attempt to get everything done before 1 pm tomorrow when the kids get out of school.

Wishing everyone peace and joy!

"If one really loves nature, one can find beauty everywhere."

- Vincent van Gogh

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I am thrilled and honored to find two of my poems in the December issue of Glass, which also includes poems by such poets as Anuja Ghimire, Mary C. O'Malley, Robert Hastings, Caroline Miller, and others. Check 'em out! And if you've got something ready to submit, do consider this wonderful journal.

Now, a question: how do you writers out there feel about being edited?

I was reminded yesterday of the very first time I was edited, way back at the college newspaper. I remember how I picked up that newspaper article, and I was SO MAD to see my byline on something that was so spliced and diced, it barely resembled the words I had originally written. (My beautiful, wonderful words! Gone!)

Now, of course, I've had years to toughen my skin, as well as the opportunity to work the other side of the desk. But I gotta tell you, sometimes it still stings.

But only for a little while.

Then I look at it again (after a piece of Godiva chocolate or a nice long bubble bath) and see all my glaring errors... and suddenly I am overwhelmed with gratitude. To think that another human being took the time to keep me from making a complete fool of myself.... I mean, wow. You really can't put a price on something like that.

So thanks to all you editors out there who dive in again and again and make writers look way more gorgeous than we actually are. We'd be nothing without you.

"A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song."

— Maya Angelou

Sunday, December 14, 2008


My Dress Hangs There

– after the painting by Frida Kahlo

When the maid asks, must you leave

New York so soon?
I will say, it is

just the smell of last week’s uneaten fruit

that makes me long for La Casa Azul.

Then I will gently fold my lies into a suitcase,

and carry my pain to Mexico

where it can live a colorful life

under skirts that swirl as I raise

the brush, paint myself again and again,

until finally I see glimpses not of me

but of what I will become: strong

eyebrows, long neck, eyes wise.

But for now my dress hangs there

in the room where you sleep without me.

I could say I will miss you but I won’t

and when my back aches, I will paint

and when I am hungry, I will paint

and when I want to be loved

I will rest beneath the mango tree

take out my pain

and devour it.

- Irene Latham

This one I wrote as part of a series on historical women, and it is one of two poems that recently appeared in the journal FREE LUNCH. (Look for the second poem next Sunday.)

Also, this poem (along with six others in the historical women series) was selected for publication in the new anthology EINSTEIN AT THE ODEON CAFE, to be released by Churn Dash Press in March 2009.

I could write for days about Frida. She fascinates me.

"Feet, why do I need them if I have wings to fly?"

- Frida Kahlo

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Don't you love it when someone knows you so very well that they can hear a song and be absolutely certain that you will adore it? And then they bring that CD home to you as a surprise gift, for no reason at all, except that they are absolutely certain that you will adore it?

My husband is like that. And Faith Hill's JOY TO THE WORLD is the CD.

I am a sucker for Christmas music. I love it. It makes me feel happy and joyful and peaceful and just glad to be alive. And this CD has all my favorite songs on it (with a big orchestra!). Plus one more: A Baby Changes Everything.

This song SLAYS me. In the best way possible. Give yourself a little gift and check it out.

"The greatest gift you can give another is the purity of your attention."

- Richard Moss

Monday, December 8, 2008


This weekend it was my great honor to spend some time with Tinnie Pettway, one of the famous quilters from Gee's Bend who has authored a new book entitled GEE'S BEND EXPERIENCE.

I first met Tinnie and her daughter Claudia at an art exhibition last year, where I shared with them my book of poems (that includes the poem "The Quilts of Gee's Bend") and talked with them about my forthcoming novel THE WITCHES OF GEE'S BEND. They were simply wonderful to visit with, so I was thrilled to get to see them again. I bought books and potholders, and this time I remembered to take pictures!

Here is a poem from Tinnie's book:

Quilting Women (1989)

Way back then, women had few friends,
Worked from early morn, till the day's end

They would do their daily household things
While on some song they hummed and sang

They would gather together their quilting things
A few old britches, a few little string

A pair of scissors, their needle and thread
Think of patterns in their heads

Begin to sew old pieces together
Some pieces terrible, some a little better, some of that
stuff was almost leather

It may have been wool or it may have been rubber
But when they was done we all had cover

- Tinnie Pettway

Saturday, December 6, 2008


I spent yesterday in Montgomery tucked away in a private dining room with writing students from Booker T. Washington Magnet High School and their super cool teacher Foster Dickson.

What a great group of kids! And wow, what words they brought to the table.

Thanks to each and every one of you for sharing a piece of yourself. I am absolutely thrilled and inspired by your courage. May our paths cross again.

"First I shake the whole Apple tree, that the ripest might fall. Then I climb the tree and shake each limb, and then each branch and then each twig, and then I look under each leaf."

- Martin Luther

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Here's a wet picture for a wet day, thanks to my lovely sister Lynn. It just so happens that we were together the day she took this one, so it is extra-special to me.

"What greater thing is there for human souls than to feel that they are joined for life - to be with each other in silent unspeakable memories."

- George Eliot

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


First, a confession: I've never been a big fan of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Book or movie. Until now.

See, my novel ESCAPE FROM FIRE MOUNTAIN is set in 1902 Martinique, and my main character is a reader. Which means I've had to figure out what exactly she'd be reading. Enter Alice, published in 1865.

It's a bizarre little book, full of truths and wit and serious word-loving genius. I still prefer the poem "Jabberwocky," but I gotta tell, Alice has really grown on me. I especially like her conversation with the caterpillar. Haven't we all had conversations like that, that go round and round but accomplish nothing?

I leave you with a quote from the book, that totally applies to writing:

"'Begin at the beginning,' the King said gravely, 'and go on till you come to the end: then stop.'"

- Lewis Carroll