Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Okay, some folks watch Survivor, others Beauty and the Geek... give me The Bachelor. I love this show. Seriously. It intrigues me what people want in relationships, and this bachelor (from London) in particular seems really in tune with who these women really are and how they might "fit" with him.

I like him. I especially liked last night when he said, "I was gutted."

Oh the heartache! Been there...

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”

- Maya Angelou

Monday, April 28, 2008


So, in between a trillion other things during National Poetry Month, I've been cranking along on this revision (due at the end of May). And I just now realized what THE WITCHES OF GEE'S BEND is really about: courage.

All this time I was thinking it was about love and belongingness, and yes, it's about those things too, but at its heart, at its core, it is about one girl's courage.

"I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do."

- Atticus Finch, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee

Sunday, April 27, 2008


origin: German, meaning: adored warrior

An unbeliever,
she makes love
with the lights on,
her room a bunker
with no windows.

She undresses
her wounds first,
tells tales of civil
wars fought
but never won,

her skin tastes
like gunpowder
and smells like smoke.

She says
not to worry,
she eventually releases
all prisoners.

She pulls your
mouth to hers
captures your hair
in her fingers,
then pushes you
past enemy lines.

Stretch marks
are trenches
in the fierce light,
she sees them, dares you
to call her beautiful.

- Irene Latham

Know someone named Gertrude? Or someone who SHOULD be named Gertrude? Her strength inspires me.

"If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water."

- Ernest Hemingway

Thursday, April 24, 2008


This one is a gift from my sister Lynn, taken at Cape San Blas, Florida. I could look at it for days. (A good choice for the ceiling at the OB/GYN? I'm just saying.)

"See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving.

For in truth it is life that gives unto life - while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.

And you receivers - and you are all receivers - assume no weight of gratitude, lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives.

Rather rise together with the giver on his gifts as on wings;

For to be overmindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity who has the free-hearted earth for mother, and God for father."

-Kahlil Gibran

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


How appropriate that Alison should choose today to give me this sweet award! Isn't it adorable? Alison is adorable too and absolutely a gift to the world. Thank you, and right back at you.

The reason it's especially appropriate is because today I am posting about my father's visit. Papa lives in Bismarck, North Dakota, so visits are few and far between. But oh when they happen, they are wonderful! We talk and laugh and share pictures and stories... and the boys are sweeter and more affectionate when Papa is here. I treasure the small moments and really hate seeing him go.

Papa being here also gives us an excuse to see other folks we love, like the girls in this photo. Meet my sister-in-law/best friend from high school Jennifer and my three oldest nieces Rachael, Katherine, and Sarah. (That's my Eric on the other side of Papa. I think he was a little overwhelmed by all the giggling at the supper table. :)

Aren't they beautiful??

“Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity.”

- Albert Einstein

Monday, April 21, 2008


You gotta love an event that makes poetry a top priority. Why, we even had our own tent! Big thanks and congrats go to Jeanie Thompson and everyone else who worked so hard to pull the whole thing off. It was a pleasure to share some of my own poems as well as meet new-to-me poets like Doug Van Gundy of West Virginia (we must meet again!) and enjoy old faves like Willie James King (what a sweetheart!) and Natasha Tretheway. And hey, even Emily Dickinson and Edgar Allan Poe were there. Seriously! Talk about a party! And me without a camera. Sigh.

I really missed my family at this one. There has got to be a way for me to bring them along on these adventures. If only Paul didn't work on Saturdays... sigh again.

So many great folks in one place... authors and book lovers of all sorts. Including my mentor in the kidlit world, R.A. Nelson. Great job, Russ! And did I mention the weather was simply gorgeous?

"Respect the masterpiece. It is true reverence to man. There is no quality so great, none so much needed now."

- Frank Lloyd Wright

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Posting a short one today, because I am still recovering from yesterday's Alabama Book Festival. (more on that tomorrow) This poem is not from WHAT CAME BEFORE, but a more recent one that originated in response to one of Liz Reed's painting of the Grand Tetons (and also just appeared in Birmingham Arts Journal).


blurred world
suddenly sharp

peaks rise
like prayer

boot after
clumsy boot

we climb

- Irene Latham

"A good book is the purest essence of a human soul."

- Thomas Carlyle

Friday, April 18, 2008


Found this notation in my manuscript, and because I hate to ask stupid questions (a serious character flaw), I looked it up online instead.

Here's what I found at Buried in the Slush Pile:

Stet - Latin for let it stand. Editors and proofreaders place the word stet in the margin of a manuscript to indicate that a marked change or deletion should be ignored, and the copy typeset in its original form.

Well, hallelujah! And here I was thinking it was something really bad...

"This morning I took out a comma and this afternoon I put it back again."

—Oscar Wilde

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Isn't this the sweetest pic? It's my sister Lynn's youngest children, Matt and Anna.

Lynn says it was just a lucky shot -- their dog Jackson approached and this is what happened. Luck or skill or kismet or whatever, I feel lighter and more carefree when I look at this one. Plus I love these kids. And their mother. (SO MUCH!)

Precious, huh?

"What one loves in childhood stays in the heart forever."

- Mary Jo Putney

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Big thanks to Danielle and the Writing Club at Jacksonville State University for a lovely poetry-filled evening last night! Yes, it was COLD... but the fire was nice and what better than poetry to warm a girl up?

Thanks for making me feel so welcome -- it was an honor to speak to such an eager (and talented!) group.

Now back to my revision...

"Writing has laws of perspective, of light and shade, just as painting does, or music. If you are born knowing them, fine. If not, learn them. Then rearrange the rules to suit yourself."

-Truman Capote

Monday, April 14, 2008


Over the weekend we took our youngest scientist-son to see the movie he'd been dying to see: Nim's Island. (Big brothers called it a "chick flick" and had no interest. Hmmmm....)

I really didn't know anything about the movie going in, except that Jodie Foster and Abigail Breslin were in it. My ignorance is probably part of what made it so delightful. Also, I think maybe we Lathams have all been a bit sensory-deprived as we've been grieving, so everything in the movie just seemed to pop in an extra-special way.

Essentially the movie is about courage. About being the hero in your own story. About how often we let things get in the way of our ability to be all courageous and heroic, even in mundane everyday life. And the movie is also about experiencing the wonder of the natural world, and how that, in and of itself, is an adventure.

Check it out. You won't be sorry.

"The hero is one who kindles a great light in the world, who sets up blazing torches in the dark streets of life for men to see by."

- Felix Adler

Sunday, April 13, 2008


To the Boy I Kissed in Four States But Didn’t Marry

I remember you.
I remember Georgia
and Kentucky
and Tennessee.

Once, we loved each other
in Alabama
and I remember
it rained

and your arms
were stretched
above your head,
your whole body spread

out for me
like a sugar-shore.
This is the only
way back

to how many times
we’ve kissed
and where,
how every time

it was like
and sinking,
the two of us

like spun glass
from a string
and dancing.

I don’t remember now
all the reasons
you went your way
and I went mine.

But there are highways
I know
like I still know
every curve

of your lips
and mouth
and tongue,
and some days

I just get in my car
and drive.

- Irene Latham

“It's all right for a perfect stranger to kiss your hand as long as he's perfect.”

- Mae West

Saturday, April 12, 2008


During the time my mother-in-law was sick, people kept asking us if she had a "life list." (I guess this is the same thing as a "bucket list," but I prefer the other terminology.) She didn't. I think this is because she had already done the things she wanted to do in her life. Also, she was sick, so travel or other adventures were not exactly do-able in her condition.

Anyhow, I've been thinking about my own life list. And I've got something to add: I want to learn a foreign language. Trouble is, I haven't decided yet which one! Not French - got my fill of that in high school. Spanish? It would certainly be practical. Mandarin Chinese? That might work. Or maybe Italian, although it never crossed my mind until I read Elizabeth Gilbert's EAT PRAY LOVE.

I guess I've got some deciding to do. And probably I should wait until I get past this novel revision deadline??

"If we really want to live, we better start at once to try."

- W.H. Auden

Thursday, April 10, 2008


I love old graveyards. There's something so holy about them. Probably because all those words engraved on the markers and headstones represent such love.

This one can be found behind the Presbyterian Church at Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I took the pic two days before my mother-in-law died. When I look at it, I feel really connected to her, as if it represents HER, not the person it actually is intended to remember. Isn't that crazy?

"The knack of flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss."

- Douglas Adams

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Last month a new glossy magazine appeared in our office -- called Lipstick. So I cracked it open and found a "Book Club" page where they were asking readers to check out Love Life by Ray Kluun. It's a memoir set in Holland about a guy who is chronically unfaithful, even as his wife is dying of breast cancer.


Well. It's a bit of a train wreck. Atrocious writing in places. But the cancer parts were right on. And my curiosity demanded I stick with it long enough to see how it all ended up between Mr. Kluun and his wife and all these various other women.

In the end, I'm glad I read it. But I can't exactly recommend it. Know what I mean?

"If I had to give young writers advice, I would say don't listen to writers talking about writing or themselves."

-Lillian Hellman

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Seems like I am forever in a rush. It feels good to be accomplishing stuff, but I do get tired and stressed out sometimes. You know, on days when it feels like there is not enough time?

Sometimes I need to remember to slow down.

Which is why I love today's quotes. Yes, that's quotes, as in more than one. Think of it as a two-for-Tuesday like they do on the radio. And even those these may seem at odds with one another, they really aren't.

"Everywhere is walking distance if you have time."

- Steven Wright

"If the doctor told me I had only six minutes to live,
I’d type a little faster."

-Isaac Asimov

Monday, April 7, 2008


Remember these books? My 11 year old has just discovered them.

And last night as he busily looked up the word "abominable" in his handy dandy bedside dictionary (my boy's a word lover! Woohoo!), I was thinking the Choose Your Own Adventure series is a great example of literature that breaks the fourth wall.

Check 'em out! Meanwhile, I'll be plugging along on this revision...

“A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.”

-Steven Wright

Sunday, April 6, 2008



The morning after
there is a peach
on the nightstand

your forehead gleams
in the tender light
and I see a whorl

in your hairline,
the place your mother
must have kissed

when you were new
and I want to
kiss it too

that dark tornado

I want to kiss it
and remember you
this way -

ripe and still,
as if we are just

- Irene Latham

I love peaches. And not just because I was born in Georgia! They are such a sensual fruit - no wonder they are always popping up in my poems. Wishing everyone a peach-y day today... and Paul, Happy Anniversary to Us!

"There are two versions of every story and twelve versions of every song."

- Irish proverb

Friday, April 4, 2008


So I've read and re-read my editor's comments, and I'm just about ready to dive into the latest revision of THE WITCHES OF GEE'S BEND. Currently the book is written in first person past POV, but now I'm considering a switch to first person present.

I love the immediacy of first person present, how it really makes you feel like you are right there with the character inside the story. But do I really want to do all the work it would take to make that switch? Do I even have time with my fast-approaching deadline? And would it make enough of a different to be worth it?

I'm not sure yet. So I'm thinking I'll tackle the other must-do issues first then decide. I'll keep you posted.

“We must plan for the future because people who stay in the present will remain in the past.”

- Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, April 3, 2008


If you drive down the coast from San Francisco on Route 1 (and the road isn't washed out) you'll see this lighthouse at Pigeon Point. Even on a grey day it's a beautiful sight.

"Tough times don't last; tough people do."

- seen earlier this week on a church billboard in Dallas County, Alabama

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


I don't know who exactly decided April should be National Poetry Month, but wow, what a great choice. April is the perfect month for poetry. It is also the perfect month for picnics and first kisses and long walks in the woods.

I will be celebrating National Poetry Month in all sorts of ways. I've got four school visits lined up, three speaking engagements, Alabama Book Festival, and Limestone Dust Poetry Festival. All this on top of my usual poetic endeavors. Catch me if you can!

If you'd like to get in the spirit of poetry, try this.

"Ink runs from the corners of my mouth
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry."

- Mark Strand