Monday, March 18, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: FIRST JOB

For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.


I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?
In January I wrote about: apron, bar, basketball, bed, bicycle, birthday, boat, broom, button, cake, car.

In February: chair, chlorine, church, concert, cookbook, couch, dancing, desk, dessert, dining room table, diploma.

Here are March's prompts: divorce, door, dream, emergency room, envelope, eyebrows, first apartment, first job, food, game, garden.

FIRST JOB

We were given lots of household chores in our family, both indoor and out. One I particularly remember was Saturday mornings spent "picking up sticks" in the front yard of our Folsom, LA house. We rotated jobs, and I always enjoyed the dusting and cleaning mirrors best. :)

When it came to jobs for other people, the first and most consistent thing I ever did was babysit. I loved babysitting. For several years in high school I babysat the Mann girls: Phoenix, Noel, Merry Lynn and Alaina. I adored those girls! (Still do.) It was so much fun to watch them grow up and to be loved by them. What an honor! It was also great preparation for becoming a mom. I remember getting lots of praise for how I handled the girls -- we had a lot of fun together! -- except for one time when I carried the girls with me to take one of my mom's foster babies to the doctor. Oh boy, was Jana mad! She did NOT want her girls picking up some something in that doctor's office. I've never forgotten that.

Other jobs I had (for pay) were working as a cashier at Krystal's (nothing like fast food to teach you a thing or two about people), working in Sears (hardware department, about which I knew virtually nothing going in), and as a Mother's Day Out teacher (which is basically babysitting, but with a curriculum). 

Anyhow, here is a poem about the kind of babysitter I tried to be, and the kind of babysitter I wanted (and had! Hi, Jessica!) for my boys. My ideal *might* be a little bit influenced by one Mary Poppins. :)

The Best Babysitter

The best babysitter
hardly ever sits –
she invites us to climb
her like a jungle gym,
then she tickles us to bits.
She reads us
stacks of stories
and makes mealtime fun.
Her fingers are puppets
and she knows the best songs
to get the chores done.
She keeps us safe and clean.
She warms our chilly toes.
Everyone who meets her
says the same thing:
I want one of those!

- Irene Latham

Sunday, March 17, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: FIRST APARTMENT


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For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.


I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?
In January I wrote about: apron, bar, basketball, bed, bicycle, birthday, boat, broom, button, cake, car.

In February: chair, chlorine, church, concert, cookbook, couch, dancing, desk, dessert, dining room table, diploma.

Here are March's prompts: divorce, door, dream, emergency room, envelope, eyebrows, first apartment, first job, food, game, garden.

First Apartment

some Disney mementos
I've only ever lived in an apartment once, and it was only for one semester of college while I attended Walt Disney College Program in Orlando, Florida. It was my first time away from home, and shared a second-floor apartment with three other girls – Linda, Laurie and Lori. Laurie and Lori shared a room and bathroom, and so did Linda and me. Sometimes Linda would bring home her boyfriend Grant over to spend the night... in the twin bed not three feet from mine! For an introvert, it was pretty awful to have virtually no privacy.

Lori, Mickey, me (in
Easter dress my mom
made me, Laurie (front)
A couple of things stand out to me about the apartment experience: I learned the very first day how uncool I was in terms of clothing. These girls had “outfits” and I had shorts and a t-shirt. (I later borrowed clothes from them.) I also learned that it was unusual for a girl my age to include in the photo collage on her wall a picture of her little brother kissing her on the cheek. (They thought he was a boyfriend.) I understood pretty quickly how the rest of the world must see my odd family, and it was hard – especially when I was so lonely for all of them! I learned so so much about myself and my family.

Other memories include shopping at Publix for the only staples I could afford: Kraft macaroni and cheese (the blue box) and peanut butter (crunchy) and apple jelly, for the many sandwiches I ate. (The College Program deducted our rent from our paychecks, and let me tell you, there wasn't a lot left!)

Is there life after Disney World?
I'd also left a boyfriend behind (we'd both interviewed for Disney, but I was the only one to get in), and during my stay at Disney, we were struggling – we didn't know whether to work harder for our relationship, or to let it go. (I met someone in Orlando and was having my own adventures...) Some nights I would use the apartment phone (located in the kitchen) and stretch the curly cord all the way down the hall and hide in my room (whenever Linda wasn't home) with the door partially closed in order to have a semi-private conversation with that boy. (We broke up for good shortly after my return to Birmingham, and he later did a few semesters with the Walt Disney College Program without me.)

For half a minute I thought about staying at Disney and transferring to University of Central Florida, but it just didn't make sense. At UAB, I could commute from my family's home. Instead I came home with a new bumper sticker: “Is there life after Disney World?”

Turns out the answer to that question is YES. Yes there is! Four months after returning home I met Paul... next month we will celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary!

Friday, March 15, 2019

"The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog" by Allan Wolf

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Heidi at my juicy little universe for a Youth Climate Strike-themed roundup.

While I don't have a poem related to that, please do go see the adorable Youth Climate Strike illustration by Thea Baker (who also illustrated my LOVE, AGNES: POSTCARDS FROM AN OCTOPUS).



Just 6 more slots left for this year's Progressive Poem! Please join us!!!



I'm in with the title poem from the newly released THE PROPER WAY TO MEET A HEDGEHOG AND OTHER HOW-TO POEMS, edited by the late Paul B. Janeczko, illus. by Richard Jones, poems by some wonderful poets we know and adore!

It's hard to write those words -- "the late Paul B. Janeczko." Paul was such a kind human, and I'm so so honored he chose to include 3 of my poems in this collection. There's more I want to say eventually.

But today I want to share with you the title poem, which happens to be written by poet-extraordinaire Allan Wolf. Allan was kind enough to answer a few questions for me, too -- so please keep reading! And, in a nod to PBJ, I'll forever think of Allan as "Wolfman" now. You'll see... read on! 

The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog

Today I walked outside and spied
a hedgehog on the hill.
When she and I met eye to eye,
she raised up straight and still.

The quills across her back puffed out.
She froze in blind alarm.
In turn, I ceased to move about
to show I meant no harm.

Awhile we stood there silently
in time as if to say,
"I'll leave you be if you leave me,"
then went our separate ways.

- Allan Wolf



Rosie's favorite toy stash
IL: What inspired this poem? 
WOLFMAN: I wrote the poem years and years ago, in one of my favorite hiding places on the second floor of Ramsey Library at UNC-Asheville. It is pin-drop quiet there. If memory serves me, I actually wrote The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog around the same time I wrote "How to Care for Your Tree" (another How-To poem in the Janeczko collection). And I recall I had plans for my own How-To Poem collection, though I ultimately moved on to other things. At that time, probably, around 1999, I was writing up a storm and trying a whole variety of things. I wrote a bazillion "double dactyl" poems (one that ended up in A Kick in the Head) at this time as well. None of that really explains the poem's inspiration, of course. Perhaps on that day I was feeling particularly erinaceous. 

Rosie guarding hedgehog toy
IL: Why a hedgehog? 
WOLFMAN: I liked the musical sound of the double H in hedgehog. And to be quite honest, I didn't really KNOW all that much about hedgehogs. This was years before hedgehogs would become popular cute pets. I sort of equated hedgehogs with porcupines. So the "meeting" (or maybe it started out as "greeting"?) was actually a bit fraught with danger--moreso than the poem takes on today. It was a time of experimentation as I was trying to find my own voice.  I specifically wrote the poem in the old-school classic way of A.A. Milne. And "How to Care for Your Tree" was specifically written in the style of Lewis Carroll. 

Rosie wrestling around
with hedgehog toy
IL: Do you have any words about finding out your poem would be the title of the book?
WOLFMAN: I'm glad you asked me that, cause I remember feeling pleased and honored, in the first place when Paul contacted me in 2016 to say he wanted two of my poems for the collection. He said he would pay me "two crisp one hundred dollar bills." I said I'd take my daughter out to the Chinese Buffet and he replied, "Poo Poo for all!" Anthologies are a long, slow process, I had submitted the poems to him so long ago that I had forgotten all about the project. So it was a nice surprise to have the cash for a couple poems that had just been lying about. Later that same year, in December he sent me the following brief e-mail: 


Allan Wolf
Yo, Wolfman
Ho, ho, etc. I wanted you to know that the title of the book of how-to poems has been decided: The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog and Other How-To Poems. I thought you’d get a kick out of that. (I get my kicks from champagne. Or, used to.) Happy holiday, my friend.

He signed it in his usual lower case "pbj,"  the goofiest initials in the history of initials. 

You ask me how I felt. I was pleased, of course, because to have written the titular poem is something of an extra honor. I actually purchased a shirt with a cute little hedgehog pattern! (See photo attached). While it doesn't necessarily indicate that it is the "best" poem, it does show that it captures the essence of the collection as a whole. I was also pleased because I knew I wanted to use poems in the collection as "mentor texts" in future writing workshops. I
Allan's new book
THE DAY THE UNIVERSE
EXPLODED MY HEAD
suppose you might also say that it was recognition to my readers and my poetic peers that I was "officially" a part of the "canon" of contemporary children's poetry. Perhaps it makes me an "overnight success"--after 30 years in the business! But most impactful of all, is the bitter sweet appreciation I feel toward this collection (with its wonderful, who's-who line-up of authors writing poetry for young people) and how it pays tribute to Paul Janeczko's spirit, heart, and vision. 

So many thanks to Allan for sharing here today... and so much love to Paul for filling the world with beautiful words.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

STARDUST by Jeanne Willis, illus. by Briony May Smith

I love books about sibling issues... maybe because with 3 brothers and 1 sister, I had sibling issues! And as a parent of 3 sons, I've witnessed many sibling issues.

And when I say "issues," I should say that not all of those issues are bad, per se... I am so so lucky I got The Best Sister in the World. She and I saved each other's lives more than once and in more ways than I can ever adequately communicate.

Irene & Lynn, BFASF
Anyway... there was a time when I felt overshadowed by my (little) sister. She was not only beautiful (and participated -- and won! -- lots of beauty pageants), she's also smart and driven. Of the two of us, she was definitely a higher achiever in school! For a while I wasn't sure where -- or how --I could shine.

And that's what STARDUST by Jeanne Willis, illus. by Briony May Smith, brought to us by Nosy Crow, is all about. The heroine in the book is lucky to have a grandfather who reminds her of her worth and all the possibilities for her. (I, too, was lucky to have so many loving adults in my life to make me feel loved and valued.)

By the end of the book her focus has shifted from what she's not (her sister) to how big the world is and how many possibilities there are for her (and everyone!).

The last spread leads us to believe this little girl becomes an astronaut with her own star-y adventures. It's hopeful and sweet, and might be just the message some kid in your life needs to hear.

Yes, we are all stardust. xo


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: ENVELOPE


For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.


I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?
In January I wrote about: apron, bar, basketball, bed, bicycle, birthday, boat, broom, button, cake, car.

In February: chair, chlorine, church, concert, cookbook, couch, dancing, desk, dessert, dining room table, diploma.

Here are March's prompts: divorce, door, dream, emergency room, envelope, eyebrows, first apartment, first job, food, game, garden.

ENVELOPE

Best Envelope in a Book I've Read So Far.
Photo by Rae Tian on Unsplash
Mostly I associate envelopes with happy mail. Whatever home I've lived in, walking out to the mailbox has always been one of my favorite parts of the day. Sending and receiving handwritten, heartfelt notes is definitely one of my primary love languages. However, not all mail is good.

One not-so-happy envelope I remember distinctly was the one my mother gave me after she caught me at school wearing different clothes than the ones I'd left home in. My mom is a seamstress, and when I was in 6th grade, I was suddenly aware of how un-cool my homemade dresses were. I wanted other clothes, ones that made me feel like I fit in. So, a friend loaned me some jeans and a cute top, and each morning I would change into them on the bus. (It's not hard to change discreetly when you wear a skirt and a tank top!) 

Imagine my surprise when I was on the monkey bars during recess and I saw my mom coming down the sidewalk?? She was there to check out my brother, who was sick. I remember how exposed I felt up there on the monkey bars, and the way my mother's lips were pressed together as she passed by. She didn't say anything at that moment, but I knew I was busted. I had all the rest of the school day to think about it and imagine what terrors awaited me at home. 

When I finally got there, what I found was an envelope on my bed. It contained a four page letter from my mom expressing her disappointment in me – maybe not a big deal to some, but it was pretty devastating to a pleaser like me!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The Whole Wide World and Me by Toni Yuly

You know that feeling you get when you're at the beach, where you're simultaneously small in the face of that endless ocean, and also big, simply because you are there on that beach meeting that ocean and looking it in the eye?

This book, THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD AND ME by Toni Yuly, brought to us by Candlewick, is about that feeling. It's about the connectedness we feel with nature, and how no matter who we are, we are a part of something bigger.

So, really, for me, it's a picture book about spirituality. It employs simple text and big, bright art -- I started to say "simple" art, but really, is any art simple? I think the quality I'm responding to is the lack of busy-ness, the absence of anything unnecessary. Maybe "clean" art? Which again might mean something entirely different to someone else... hmmm... not sure how to describe it, except to say: I LOVE IT. What a beautiful way to engage readers with the joy of recognizing our part of this big beautiful world.

I want to read this book to everyone I love, and then go take a nature walk. :) I hope you will, too! (By the way, Kirkus agrees with me!)

Monday, March 11, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: EMERGENCY ROOM

For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.

I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?
In January I wrote about: apron, bar, basketball, bed, bicycle, birthday, boat, broom, button, cake, car.

In February: chair, chlorine, church, concert, cookbook, couch, dancing, desk, dessert, dining room table, diploma.

Here are March's prompts: divorce, door, dream, emergency room, envelope, eyebrows, first apartment, first job, food, game, garden.


EMERGENCY ROOM

I went to the E.R. twice as a child – both times for a broken arm. I don't remember much about the hospital, but I do remember a lot about how I broke the arm each time.

First time I was playing on the church playground with my brother Ken. He challenged me to a contest – who could jump the farthest from the swing? So we both set to pumping ourselves high as possible before leaping out of the swing mid-air. I was determined to win – and I did! I also broke my right arm in the process. It was a compound fracture near the elbow that required an overnight hospital stay and a long recovery.

Second time my sister and I were riding my pony Rusty through the woods, bareback. Lynn sat in front, and I sat just behind her. We rode in the woods behind our house, not on a trail exactly... we urged Rusty to jump over a log (as we'd done many times before), and when he complied, I lost my balance and slipped from his back. I landed near a pine tree, and my wrist hit an exposed root. I knew instantly it was broken. The worst part was holding my broken wrist and running home. My mom promptly put me in the back seat of the car, and drove me to the E.R. Every bump in the road sent pain radiating up my arm, so I pretty much cried the whole way to the hospital. That break required weeks of physical therapy, including a wax dip to help maximize the mobility of my joint. I was able to regain most of it, but not all. I notice it occasionally when I am cello-ing, because it's my right bowing hand, which requires a smooth wrist motion I cannot always achieve.

Much more vivid in my memory are the 3 times we had to take our kids to the E.R.:

a.) Eric, who at age 4 was riding a bike with training wheels in our driveway while under the care of a babysitter, and decided to run over a plastic shampoo bottle (left out after bathing the dog). He wrecked, and the handle bar went through his face (near his mouth). Getting that call from the babysitter was one of the worst things ever! And then watching them wrap my child and stitch his face was pretty awful. He recovered fine, of course, and was left with a scar and a great story. :)
Andrew's broken arm


  • b.) 
  • Andrew, who at age 8, broke his right arm at the skating rink. It's one of the many things he and I have in common!


  • c.) Eric, again. We were vacationing in Pigeon Forge, and when Eric woke up in our hotel room, he couldn't breathe. I banged on his back and called 9-1-1. Paramedics rushed him to the hospital in an ambulance, which is not what you want to happen on vacation (or ever!). It turned out to be strep throat, and he was really past the danger by the time paramedics arrived. But we were in high alert mode at the time, as my mother-in-law was in the last stages of cancer. Eric got an antibiotic shot and was soon feeling better... thank goodness!

    Friday, March 8, 2019

    "On Forgetting That I Am a Tree" by Ruth Awolola

    Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit one of the kindest people on the planet Catherine at Reading to the Core for a celebration of International Women's Day!

    If you haven't signed up yet for a line in this year's Progressive Poem, there's still room! Click here to sign up. We'd love to have you.

    I've been busy this week with students in Shelby County, Alabama... what an honor to share with these amazing kids and educators about my books and the writing life and Alabama!

    Also, good news: I am one of 13 speakers (along with fellow children's poet Charles Ghigna) included in Read Alabama 200, a program through Alabama's Bicentennial Commission which will fund my visit to speak to groups in Alabama about my Alabama books, like LEAVING GEE'S BEND, DON'T FEED THE BOY and MEET MISS FANCY. This is a great opportunity, and any Alabama readers who may be interested, I'd love to hear from you!


    I do have a women's history poem for you from SHE IS FIERCE: Brave, bold and beautiful poems by women, selected by Ana Sampson. If you haven't seen this poem before, you are in for a treat: "On Forgetting That I Am a Tree" by Ruth Awolola. Here's the poet reading the poem herself! Wishing all a happy weekend, and a happy day... don't forget to change your clock! :)




    Thursday, March 7, 2019

    On Balance

    Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
    Hello and welcome to Spiritual Journey Thursday! Today's topic, thanks to Doraine, is balance. Be sure to visit her yoga blog for Roundup.

    Just the word makes me feel some sort of resistance. What does it even mean to find balance in our lives??

    I think, maybe, for me, it's not feeling overwhelmed. It's having the right amount of time to myself and time with others; the right amount of work and play; the right amount of quiet and noise; the right amount of travel-time and home-time.

    How to achieve this? Well. I've done a lot of work on this. Learning to say "no" has been a really important thing for me. Listening to my body. Listening to my heart. Slowing down. Taking a breath...

    You know, I think a big part of it has been letting go of expectations, putting down the script. Not measuring my life against anyone else's. Letting life happen... and being there -- really being there -- while it does.

    Here's a quote I found while poking around about "balance," and a just love it. I hope you do, too.

    "God made the forests, the tiny stars, and the wild winds--and I think that he made them partly as a balance for that kind of civilization that would choke the spirit of joy out of our hearts. He made the great open places for the people who want to be alone with him and talk to him, away from the crowds that kill all reverence. And I think that he is glad at times to have us forget our cares and responsibilities that we may be nearer him--as Jesus was when he crept away into the wilderness to pray."
    MARGARET ELIZABETH SANGSTER, "The Gypsy Spirit"

    Wednesday, March 6, 2019

    The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: DREAM


    For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.

    I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?
    In January I wrote about: apron, bar, basketball, bed, bicycle, birthday, boat, broom, button, cake, car.

    In February: chair, chlorine, church, concert, cookbook, couch, dancing, desk, dessert, dining room table, diploma.

    Here are March's prompts: divorce, door, dream, emergency room, envelope, eyebrows, first apartment, first job, food, game, garden.

    DREAM

    Like all kids, I dreamed about my future. I mean, you can't help it when everyone is asking you, “what are you going to be when you grow up?” Also, my parents raised me to believe I could be anything and do anything. I'm so grateful!

    The book I wrote
    inspired by my
    time as a zoo volunteer!
    For most of my childhood I dreamed of being a veterinarian – especially when I was part of the Teen Volunteer Program at the Birmingham Zoo. But, as it turns out, medicine was my sister's field, not mine. (She's a pediatrician.)

    Now my dream is to NOT have to take my pets to the vet, except for yearly shots and well-checks.

    During my horse-crazy years, I dreamed of training a horse my sister would ride to victory in the Kentucky Derby.

    Now my dream is actually to just attend the Kentucky Derby. (I know! How is it that I've never been?!)

    I've been writing poems since I could hold a pencil, but I never dreamed of being an author.

    I never even dreamed of meeting an author.

    My dream come true.
    I dreamed of falling in love, getting married, having kids. And lucky me, all of these dreams came true! 

    And yes, I know these are not particularly popular dreams in today's culture. But that's what it was for me. What it STILL is for me. I can't think of anything more important.

    Tuesday, March 5, 2019

    The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: DOOR


    For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.

    I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?
    In January I wrote about: apron, bar, basketball, bed, bicycle, birthday, boat, broom, button, cake, car.

    In February: chair, chlorine, church, concert, cookbook, couch, dancing, desk, dessert, dining room table, diploma.

    Here are March's prompts: divorce, door, dream, emergency room, envelope, eyebrows, first apartment, first job, food, game, garden.

    DOOR

    My mother's dream was for all seven of us (parents and 5 kids) to live in a one-room cabin – no doors. This thought made my stomach knot. I've always needed and appreciated privacy.

    Our house on Willie Road in Folsom, Louisiana was a ranch-style home, all one level. It had a long, narrow wood-paneled hallway, off of which all the bedrooms were located. We kids would close all the doors and literally climb the walls (one foot and hand on either wall of the hall).

    When I was a teen and my boyfriend came over, the rule was “door open.” I understood, but I didn't like it. One time we broke the rule, and there was my father banging on the door, bellowing for us to open it.

    When our teenage son was going through some stuff, we removed his bedroom door. His eyes glittered in a way I'd never seen before. His stomach was probably as knotty as mine had once been upon hearing my mother's one-room cabin idea.

    Sometimes when I think about that same son who is now far away, I breathe this message into the air: you are loved; the door is always open.

    Monday, March 4, 2019

    Talking Books, Poetry & Art at Thompson Intermediate School

    me with Maddie & Jada,
    peer helpers who escorted me
    from the office to gym
    I spent a lovely day last week with some great people at Thompson Intermediate School in Alabaster, Alabama.

    I remember from my first visit to this school (2017) what a loving, nurturing learning environment it provides, and I was again impressed during this visit. Students listened with interest and asked thoughtful questions -- maybe my favorite: "how does it FEEL to write books?" My first response was, "it's exhilarating!" And then I shared about how hard and frustrating it can be sometimes -- and my secret weapon for getting through writer's block. :)

    Aside:  I am currently in the throes of a new project, so I am not sleeping well, and yes, exhilarated, mostly.

    Here's a pic with librarian Christi King, who is a delight, and so easy to work with:

    Christi King & Irene Latham
    After I presented to a gym full of 4th graders, the 5th graders rolled in. I had a wonderful time with both groups, and then it was time to sign some books! I love this part of the visit because it gives me a couple of minutes to engage each child on an individual level. I ask them about their stories -- what they like to do, their pets, their families. I love learning what important to them and seeing a tiny glimpse into their hearts.

    One boy named Jamieson told me he loves to draw, and later came back in to share with me some of his amazing art. What a gift! Someday we'll all be buying his books!

    We rounded out the day with a lunch in the library attended by a special group of eight students. We shared about our lives and enjoyed pizza, sandwiches and CAKE! I do love cake...and this one came from Edgar's Bakery, so what a treat!

    Books, kids, art, cake... being a kids book creator is the Best. Job. Ever! Thank you, TIS Warriors! Hope to see you again in a couple of years. xo

    the lunch bunch - loves those smiling faces!
    p.s. the school library has abandoned Dewey for genre-organized shelves... which means, no 8-1-1 section. (! ) I get it -- books are more likely to get read when they are easy to find -- but it made me a little sad!


    Sunday, March 3, 2019

    The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: DIVORCE


    -->
    Dykes family wedding, 1979
    (fuzzy, faceless...much like
    my memory of the "divorce" days)
    For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.

    I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?
    In January I wrote about: apron, bar, basketball, bed, bicycle, birthday, boat, broom, button, cake, car.

    In February: chair, chlorine, church, concert, cookbook, couch, dancing, desk, dessert, dining room table, diploma.

    Here are March's prompts: divorce, door, dream, emergency room, envelope, eyebrows, first apartment, first job, food, game, garden.

    DIVORCE

    Wow, this word brings up a lot for me -- not a lot of specific memories, but a belly-full of feelings. My parents divorced when I was 6, got remarried when 8, then divorced again shortly after I was grown and out of the house. This impacted me in ways I am still discovering.
    .
    While they were divorced the first time, my mom took a second job as a bus driver. (She was a teacher.) We got free lunch. My mom dated other men. Meanwhile, when we visited my father at his apartment on the weekends, he fed us spaghettios straight out of the can. (He didn't cook.) He took us to Cypress Gardens and Busch Gardens – all the fun things. And it was okay, but his apartment was never “home.” It was a stressful, stressful time.

    When my parents decided to remarry, it was for the good of the family. They'd attended a church marriage workshop called Marriage Encounter, and decided to give it another go. This time the wedding ceremony included all five of us kids. My mom made a banner that hung at the altar and we were all dressed in matching shirts. It felt special to be a part of it, and I was really glad our parents would be living together again.

    I'm grateful I mostly grew up in a home with the family intact. It was not without its chaos! But whatever their troubles, our parents were both always incredibly loving with us. And clearly they loved each other. It just wasn't enough.


    Divorce

    a dragon
    spitting
    fireballs –

    you you you

    your skin
    forever
    carries
    the flavor
    smoke

    - Irene Latham


    Friday, March 1, 2019

    2019 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem: Sign Up Here!

    Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit lovely Linda at TeacherDance for Roundup.

    I do have a poem for you today, but first let's take care of some important business:

    It's that time again! National Poetry Month (April) will soon be upon us, which means it is time again to sign up for our annual KIDLITOSPHERE PROGRESSIVE POEM. This year -- our 8th year! -- our goal is to have fun with words, strengthen our community, and again create a poem for kids (our 3rd year with this specific focus!). The only thing I know about the poem so far is that the Voice of the Progressive Poem Matt Forrest will be launching our first line! The rest is up to all of YOU! I invite you to choose your day in comments, and I will update the calendar below as we go along. ETA: I have a school visit today, so I won't be able to update this page till later --  so for the moment, please refer to comments for what dates are available!

    Here's how it works: Poetry Friday Friends and other poetry lovers are invited to join in a community writing experience during National Poetry Month (April).

    What is it? a poem that travels daily from blog to blog, with each host adding a line, beginning April 1. Anyone who wants to join in the fun can sign up below. First come, first served. If you are new to the Progressive Poem, please include your email and blog url in comments -or- send via email: irene (at) irenelatham (dot) com.

    April
    2 Kat @ Kathryn Apel
    4 Jone @ DeoWriter
    5 Linda @ TeacherDance
    6 Tara @ Going to Walden
    8 Mary Lee @ A Year of Reading
    9 Rebecca @ Rebecca Herzog
    10 Janet F. @ Live Your Poem
    12 Margaret @ Reflections on the Teche
    13 Doraine @ Dori Reads
    17 Amy @ The Poem Farm
    18 Linda @ A Word Edgewise
    20 Buffy @ Buffy's Blog
    21 Michelle @ Michelle Kogan
    22 
    25 
    26 Linda @ Write Time
    27 Sheila @ Sheila Renfro
    28 
    29 Irene @ Live Your Poem
    30 Donna @ Mainely Write
    ------
    And now for a poem... and a poem inspired by a poem.
    First, the poem for March 1 from SING A SONG OF SEASONS, A Nature poem for Each Day of the Year selected by Fiona Waters, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon. (This book has become part of my daily morning reading routine!)

    I am the Song

    I am the song that sings the bird,
    I an the leaf that grows the land.
    I am the tide that moves the moon,
    I am the scream that halts the sand.
    I am the cloud that drives the storm.
    I am the earth that lights the sun.
    I am the fire that strikes the stone.
    I am the clay that shapes the hand.
    I am the word that speaks the man.
     - Charles Causley
    ----
    Don't you love the reversal of those verbs? Me too! I decided to try it myself, using my "lake life" as the focus. It reminds e of a poem I wrote for ARTSPEAK! back in 2017 in which I switched out nouns for more provocative adjectives (that describe the nouns). Click here to read "Morning." And here is today's offering:


    Lake Life
    I am morning slicing a kayak,
    I am sky cuddling clouds.
    I am waves painting the sun,
    I am feathers gathering geese.
    I am logs gnawing the beavers,
    I am heat holding stacked boulders.
    I am the shore kissing the current,
    I am a ripple skimming dragonflies.
    I am a lullaby singing the pines to sleep.
     - Irene Latham