Friday, July 23, 2021

Instructions for a Sunwashed Sunday (poem)

 

Beautiful 13!
Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Kathryn Apel for what's sure to be an inspiring Roundup. 

I'm away from my desk this week—celebrating my little sister's 13th birthday and also helping my mom through hip replacement surgery. (!)

For my latest ArtSpeak: FOUR SEASONS, I totally should have written a "girl time" poem, but maybe that will come later! 

Instead I am again focusing on weather... it's been a rather wet summer here in the Alabama foothills! Thank you so much for reading.

OH. And I have beautiful new Home and Books pages at my website! Please head on over there right now and check them out. :)


Instructions for a Sunwashed Sunday (After a Week of Rain)

stash galoshes,
forget strife;
let go of pain—
step into
               your life

- Irene Latham


Friday, July 16, 2021

Because No One's Cheerful All the Time...

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone for Roundup.

There have been some exciting things this week, including:


...an early morning phone call with Radio Europe (in Spain!), sharing about THE CAT MAN OF ALEPPO.

...the arrival of a single author copy of WILD PEACE. I would buy this book for its endpapers alone... bravo, Il Sung Na

...also in the mailbox, the Japanese edition of CAT MAN. (You can imagine how special this is to Yuko Shimizu!)

...Betsy Bird's cover reveal of AFRICAN TOWN (and interview with me and Charles) over at A Fuse #8 Production.

...and a new octopus friend to add to my collection, thanks to a dear one among us. 🐙 I'm so grateful for this community!

For today's ArtSpeak: FOUR SEASONS poem, I return to van Gogh. We've had a lot of storms lately, and that kind of shows up in this poem! Thank you so much for reading.


Sometimes


Clouds rise,
thunder calls—

somewhere,
a raven:

caw caw
             caw—


Sun sputters,
cypress shudders.

No one's cheerful
all the time—

not even 
            summer.

- Irene Latham

Friday, July 9, 2021

An Accidental Wedding Poem!

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure and visit Margaret at Reflections on the Teche for Roundup. Thanks to all—especially the teachers among us—who shared experiences about transitioning to summer. I'm lifting a glass of homemade strawberry lemonade to all of you!

Something fun this week: My friend & poet & anthologist Nancy Tupper Ling invited me to be part of her Author Acrostic series! Be sure to check out all the authors in the series at Nancy's website. I'm on a social media hiatus, so I'll share mine with you here:


In the beginning, my parents

Read to me. I learned the joyful

Exuberance of words!

Now I'm learning there aren't

Enough words, and even less time.

- Irene Latham


Also, this week, I've been updating my website! More on that soon. And Tabatha helped me format a little zine to go with WILD PEACE. Link coming soon! Creating digital content sure does gobble the time, doesn't it?

For my ARTSPEAK: Four Seasons poem this week, I knew I wanted to write after this Klimt apple piece, and I decided to use a 7-line mentor poem with an odd rhyme scheme. I couldn't figure out my beginning, so I started building the poem from the bottom up... and I'd only got the last four lines done when I decided it was a poem! (I'll try the 7-liner poem another time.)


Mountain Wedding

Afternoon rain
becomes summer's champagne
as sunbeam marries shadow in a forest chapel—
and outside, trees carry bouquets of apples.

- Irene Latham


Friday, July 2, 2021

Twilight Time (poem)

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Laura Shovan for Roundup.

This week I have been learning again how to relax! I don't know if this happens to you, but after a period of intense activity (2 months of many presentations and mad revisions!), it's taken me a couple of weeks to wind down... and this week, finally, I felt myself sink into the days, my mind not constantly cataloging what needs to be done next. Also this week I was able to connect with some dear-to-me folks, so that certainly has added to my sense of peace and contentment. I guess I'm summering! And I hope you are too.

Here's my latest ArtSpeak: FOUR SEASONS poem. Thank you so much for reading.



Twilight Time

When night rises,
shadows fall—
warm stars
welcome all
across the yard,
across the dark—
where lightning bugs
leave their mark.
How these summer
             evenings
glitter-gleam!
Each blink
both a heartbeat
and forever
as Sun settles in
to dream.


- Irene Latham



Friday, June 25, 2021

Paddling During a Pandemic (poem)

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit LInda at A Word Edgewise for Roundup.

Now that I've entered the ArtSpeak: FOUR SEASONS "Summer" Museum, I realize I have written A LOT of art poems about summer! And I am quite excited to add more to the collection. 

Funny thing: during the pandemic, I wanted nothing to do with writing about the pandemic. And now that it feels mostly in the rearview mirror, voila! a pandemic poem! Thank you so much for reading.


Paddling During a Pandemic

sun's blade
slices morning

as canoe
cuts river's
current—

peace glides in
with a ripple,

   dip,
            splash!

each stroke
a kaleidoscope
of hope

- Irene Latham

Friday, June 18, 2021

Last Poem of Spring!

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Buffy Silverman for Roundup.

I can't believe we are on the verge of Summer...O Spring, where did you go?

Highlights form the past week:


1) an in-person book signing for D-39! Kids came for a special, intimate ticketed event for the first hour (and invented their own robodogs!), and then the second hour was open to the public. Imagine my delight when dear friends (Ann Marie! Paige! Kai! Katie Jane!), new friends (Olive! Walter!), and Cappuccino (a dog!) showed up! I'm so grateful to Little Professor Books for hosting this event. Independent bookstores are THE BEST!

Check out Macie's D-88 robodog. :)

2) an in-person teaching students how to write nonets at a Literacy Camp in Auburn, Alabama. Thank you, Betty, for inviting me!

3) participating in a zoom panel for a keynote session as part of ASLA conference, along with Randi Pink and Anna Birch.

4) presenting in-person PD with Alabama history teachers. I also got to share with them about the forthcoming (with Charles Waters) AFRICAN TOWN. :)

And tonight I'll be watching some of my favorite kids perform in a play. Life is good!

As for my ArtSpeak: FOUR SEASONS poem, turns out it's my last Spring poem. Wow! I'll be searching out some Summer art between now and next Poetry Friday. Thank you so much for reading!


Horses Plowing in Spring


dirt moves
easy
beneath blades—

hooves leave
secret messages
in the furrows—

Spring: welcome!

Rain: come often,
but don't stay too
                    long. . .


Farmer: thank you
for giving us work.


Sun: shine on!

- Irene Latham



Friday, June 11, 2021

Margot Says Hello to Spring (poem)

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Carol at Carol's Corner for Roundup.

Sometimes when I have only a few minutes, I turn to old favorite poems as mentor texts to jumpstart my writing. Such was the case this week, when yesterday, upon returning from a most lovely week away from home, I needed to write another ArtSpeak: FOUR SEASONS poem. I used "Summer Stars" by Carl Sandburg as my mentor text and set it to a gorgeous piece by Mary Cassatt. Thank you so much for reading.


Margot Says Hello to Spring


Grow with me,
afternoon of spring blossoms.
So friendly you are,
garden of spring blossoms,
So friendly, a girl in a hat
can swim in blossoms,
wade across oceans
of splashy colors,
So friendly you are,
spring blossoms,
So friendly, waving,
                       waving,
So warm and brave-waving.

- Irene Latham

Friday, June 4, 2021

"May Promenade" poem

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Margaret at Reflections on the Teche for Roundup.

I am out adventuring! I did (of course) make time to write a new ArtSpeak: FOUR SEASONS poem... though in my poem, it's May instead of June! (Where did May go?!) Thank you so much for reading!


May Promenade

parasols
              pop

kites kiss
clouds

sun shatters
afternoon

as dusty streets
puff
               praise

sudden
downpour

           of boots

- Irene Latham


Friday, May 28, 2021

"Why Roses" poem

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Michelle at Michelle Kogan for Roundup.

I'm in with a quick kind-of-experimental latest poem in my ArtSpeak: Four Seasons series. As many of you know, van Gogh is my artist of choice. Today's piece is one he created while in the asylum, so I put it in his voice—and I tried to create something that could be read in two different ways: both as a traditional l-r poem and as 2-poems-in-1 (when read in columns). What a challenge! I'm sure I'll keep tinkering, but here's where I've landed for now.

Speaking of tinkering: so many thanks for friends sending notes after reading D-39 (and meeting tinkerer-heroine Klynt!). Truly, it means so much to hear your reactions. Mwah! Thank you so much for reading!



Why Roses

because—                                  asylum walls
                                                   are grey

because I have—                        thorns

because
I remember                                 Paris—

(ribbons of pink                          hopeful green)

because my song
is paint &                                    brushstrokes—

I am                                             alive!

- Irene Latham



Friday, May 21, 2021

"A Good Teacher" #PoemsforMaryLee #MarvelousMaryLee

 


Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Christie at Wondering and Wandering for Roundup. 

It's a very special Poetry Friday today because we are celebrating  #MarvelousMaryLee with #PoemsforMaryLee—because Mary Lee is retiring after 37 years as a classroom teacher!

How I wish I'd had a teacher like Mary Lee! I love thinking about the impact Mary Lee has had on so many lives... including mine. I've been learning from Mary Lee ever since I joined the Poetry Friday community. Nearly 10 years ago I wrote a post/poem "Ode to Mary Lee." I admire Mary Lee's willingness to be vulnerable and the bold way she embraces teaching/human challenges like talking about race. I'm often inspired by her poems and thoughts, and always always grateful for the ways she brings all of us together by organizing the Roundup schedule time and time again.

In honor of Mary Lee's service to so many, here is the "Service" poem from DICTIONARY FOR A BETTER WORLD.


... and here is a new poem I wrote for Mary Lee... with a haiku syllable count, because I know Mary Lee loves haiku!... but I had to add a title:


 A Good Teacher

fills young minds with more
than mathematics—they learn
how to spell themselves

- Irene Latham

*THIS JUST IN! A bonus #MarvelousMaryLee #PoemsforMaryLee from dear Ann Marie Corgill!

A Poem For #MarvelousMaryLee 

From Ann Marie


Roses are red
But I’m not a poet
Mary Lee is quite awesome
Can I adequately show it?

I’ll just write from my heart
Because words come from there
She’s a gift to our profession
A friend, true and rare.

Classrooms full of kids, year after year
Have learned, grown, and thrived
Under her care.

Far across the miles, or across the dinner table,
Mary Lee’s taught us all
Always willing and able.

Now it’s time to take a break
Smell the roses, catch the fish
Read, write, rest, and travel
Do exactly as you wish!

Happy retirement, Mary Lee!
All good wishes I do send
Enjoy your new beginning
My poem is over now….The End.

----

... and here is my latest ArtSpeak: FOUR SEASONS poem! Thanks so much for reading. xo


Fishing in Spring (Life is but a Dream)

row row row your boat

fish ignore
flashy lure

                sink
                deep

row row row your boat

afternoon
drifts,
                floats

row row row your boat

let your heart
bobble,

                catch       hope

- Irene Latham


Thursday, May 13, 2021

Because a poem is for everyone. (Roundup is Here!)

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Roundup is here at Live Your Poem.

Note: if you have a WordPress blog, due to some setting/error/? I am currently not able to leave a comment. I am so sorry! 

When I signed up to host I was thinking how lovely it would be, because SPRING! 

And now here it is, and my new middle grade dystopian verse novel D-39: A Robodog's Journey releases next Tuesday!

Many thanks to those who have already helped me to celebrate... Sylvia had me (and others!) answer some tough questions about writing verse novels with tough topics over at Poetry for Children.

Janice gave a sneak peek over at Salt City Verse.

and Linda's post today at A Word Edgewise has me answering just 3 of the 8 (excellent! thoughtful!) questions Linda crafted after reading D-39... because I am (still) buried in revisions, she's given me permission to address the other ones at a later date. 

Thank you!

One of the really exciting things about D-39 is that Mary Lee Hahn wrote the Discussion Guide! It's pretty amazing, just like Mary Lee.

With that in mind, I want to share with you three of D-39's "Poem Friends" from the Guide. (There are 10 in the Guide!)

The first, "The Journey" by Mary Oliver is one you're probably familiar with. If I had to pick ONE poem to pair with D-39, this would be it!

The second you also probably know: "Perhaps the World Ends Here" by Joy Harjo. The accompanying question in the Guide is Where does Klynt's world begin? (Where does your world begin? Where does mine?) Nothing like the end of the world to prompt such queries!

The third is one you may not know— "A Center" by Ha Jin. It begins:

"You must hold your quiet center,
where you do what only you can do.
If others call you a maniac or a fool,
just let them wag their tongues."

Klynt holds her quiet center... and her "distant" center. I loved getting to know her and D-39! And I hope you will, too.

And here's a new (Spring!) ArtSpeak: FOUR SEASONS poem. The "Girl" in the poem could be Klynt. Thank you so much for reading!!



A Poem for the Girl by the Lake


a poem wears a hat in spring
a poem wanders off the path
a poem gathers shy blooms
a poem listens to ticklish grass

a poem ripples along the shore
a poem serenades the sun
a poem isn't afraid of shadows
a poem is for everyone

- Irene Latham


Please leave your links below. xo

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Friday, May 7, 2021

From Here to Happy (poem)

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Bridget at wee words for wee ones for Roundup.

I'm excited to be sharing time with some of you this coming Monday night for Diving into the Wreck: How to Revise Poetry. Yay! (If you missed this before, there's still time to sign up!)


Charles Waters and I are neck-deep in revisions of AFRICAN TOWN, our historical fiction YA verse novel coming early next year... but I did sneak away from that work to write a new ArtSpeak: FOUR SEASONS poem. Thank you so much for reading!


From Here to Happy


Meet me at the bridge
where the wild lilies grow.
Meet me before breakfast,
and we'll watch the Morning Show—

one turtle, two turtles. . .
look, now there's four!
And a pair of glossy ducks
where there were none before.

Meet me at the bridge
where the wild lilies sway.
Between fish-nibbles and sun-ripples
the pond smiles at us all day.

- Irene Latham

Friday, April 30, 2021

Because every day is a symphony in spring (poem)

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Matt at Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme for the last roundup of National Poetry Month. Whew! No month pops its buttons like April. :)

This week I had a great time presenting about how to find poems hiding in art to young poets in Deschutes County, Oregon (thank you, Poetry Paige!)...here's the link to the (free!) replay.

And TODAY at 3 pm CST, Janet Wong will be presenting poems... free! And you're invited! Simply go to this link to join in.

 I also shared this week about all my books to 3rd graders at Appalachian School in my very own Blount County, Alabama... and today (after helping with a community yard sale!) I'll be joining Yuko Shimizu and readers from Homewood Public Library to chat about THE CAT MAN OF ALEPPO. 

Lucky me!

AND... there's a new review of D-39: A ROBODOG'S JOURNEY, from Publisher's Weekly, and it's lovely! 

"Any dog lover will appreciate this heartwarming tale of love and perseverance."

(Just 3 weeks until release day. And thanks to covid I still haven't held a physical copy yet... I'm told it's in the mail...)

In the spirit of celebration, here's my newest ArtSpeak: Four Seasons poem. Thank you for reading! 



Because every day is a symphony in spring

When green

sings,

gold cannot
hold its applause—

Glimmer! Shimmer!

Red rises
from banks

yellow explode
from beds

All is awake,
even the skies—

Flash! Crash!

Blue drops in
with a sudden
downpour

Encore! Encore!

- Irene Latham


Friday, April 23, 2021

ARTSPEAK Poem for the Joy of Reading

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Catherine at Reading to the Core for Roundup. I've been on the road this week, enjoying the fresh green scenes as they roll past my window. And a few times, I stopped, to take a break and READ. 

Is there anything more glorious than reading outside, in spring?


Once Upon a Story Orchard


I am rooted—

hope-drenched,
sun-dappled—

cozy
in a swaddle

of green
        and sky.

Words spring
from pages,

characters
      sprout—

I am first
to bl O O M

- Irene Latham

Friday, April 16, 2021

Make Way for Almond Blossoms

 

a favorite pic from last week's beach trip!

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure and visit Jama's Alphabet Soup for what I am sure will be a delectable Roundup!

I've had so much fun this week reading nonets from Read Aloud Revival kids, after a video lesson I presented. So. Many. FABULOUS. Poems! Truly, nonets are such a great place for young poets to start.

AND... it's my pleasure to be presenting interactive and transformative poetry today alongside Vikram Madan and Laura Purdie Salas for Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival. I love National Poetry Month!

For my ARTSPEAK: Four Seasons offering, I've got a van Gogh-inspired haiku for you! Funny thing: pretty much every time I type "almond blossoms," I first accidentally type "almost blossoms." :) 

It happened so often when working on this poem and creating the post that I've just written "almost blossoms" in my writing notebook to use as a writing prompt later. :) Thanks so much for reading.



snowfluff suspended

in newborn sky—

almond blossoms

- Irene Latham

Friday, April 9, 2021

ArtSpeak: FOUR SEASONS poem "if god was a season"

 

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference for Roundup. 

This week I zoomed with 4th graders at the International School in Bangkok. It's a 12 hour difference, so I presented at 9:30 pm my time to be in their 9:30 am classrooms. What a fabulous experience! I'll be reading and responding to these students' biography writing over the next few weeks.

I also presented with my editor Karen Boss to SLJ folks about D-39: A Robodog's Journey... which comes out next month! So I've been working on All the Things that go along with a book's release. Exciting!

I've got another poetry book to give away this week:


You may know Maggie Smith from her viral poem "Good Bones." Learn more about this book here. Simply leave a comment, and our cat Maggie (!) will select a winner on Sunday!

This week's ArtSpeak: FOUR SEASONS poem comes from a prompt that's been haunting me for some weeks now... and then I was perusing my Spring file of art... and voila! I found a match! I decided to use the prompt with this piece of art in mind. Thank you so much for reading.



if god was a season, it would be spring

for we are made
of riotous bouquets
and glossy green
dreams.

yes, rooted
        by fear
yet still we stretch
toward something
brighter.

god fills our eyes
nose   mouth   ears,
calls us to worship
meadow
             garden,
                          ditch—

each new shoot
and bloom
showing us growth
is beautiful,
and beauty is brave.

- Irene Latham

(The prompt was: if god was a season.)

Monday, April 5, 2021

Progressive Poem is Here!

 

So many thanks to Margaret for coordinating us in this annual tradition! I love how full of surprises this collaborative poem is... and I'm delighted to be a part of it.

Thank you, Kat, for setting us on a kindness journey... and to those poets before me for offering such lovely choices. We're off to a grand start.

Donna scurried in yesterday afternoon with this choice for me:


 
Let me cleanse the world like a rising tide

or
 
As a force of nature, I'll be undenied


And because Donna IS a force of nature, here we are:

I’m a case of kindness – come and catch me if you can!
Easily contagious – sharing smiles is my plan.
I'll spread my joy both far and wide,
As a force of nature I'll be undenied.


I"m thinking we should move into some specifics, yes? Dear Jan, now it's up to you to choose:

See that child sharing grapes with a friend?

OR

Words like, "how can I help?" will bloom in the street.


(Jan,  I tried to keep the ending words rhyme-friendly!) Whee! Be sure and follow Kindness along by visiting these inspiring blogs:

April 1 Kat Apel at Kat Whiskers

2 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
3 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
4 Donna Smith at Mainly Write
5 Irene Latham at Live your Poem
6 Jan Godown Annino at BookseedStudio
7 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
8 Denise Krebs at Dare to Care
9 Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche
10 Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone
11 Buffy Silverman
12 Janet Fagel at Reflections on the Teche
13 Jone Rush MacCulloch
14 Susan Bruck at Soul Blossom Living
15 Wendy Taleo at Tales in eLearning
16 Heidi Mordhorst at my juicy little universe
17 Tricia Stohr Hunt at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
19 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
20 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
21 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
22 Ruth Hersey at There is No Such Thing as a God-forsaken Town
23 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
24 Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference
25 Shari Daniels at Islands of my Soul
26 Tim Gels at Yet There is Method
27 Rebecca Newman
28 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
29 Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wondering
30 Michelle Kogan at More Art 4 All

Friday, April 2, 2021

For Poets, Divers and Revisers

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Mary Lee at A Year of Reading for a special First Friday of National Poetry Month Roundup.

I kind of can't believe it's April! Which means next month it's May... and Writer's Loft is hosting me for a webinar entitled Diving into the Wreck: How to Revise Poetry

(In case you can't read that small print, here's what it says: Most of us have draft-y poems that we're certain contain some bit of treasure, but it's still at least partly buried in the muck. This interactive poetry revision webinar with award-winning author/editor Irene Latham provides a perfect opportunity to plunder what's there, shine it up, and showcase the hidden jewels. The first part of the webinar will provide general revision tactics that teach you how to dig deeper into your poems and bring beauty to the surface. The second half will be modeled after a "first pages" session for fiction writers; participants will submit one page of their poems in advance and Irene will choose a few to critique during the webinar.)

Please sign up to learn revision strategies that I use every day... and I'll also be using attendees' poems to demonstrate on-the-spot how to use these techniques! It's going to be invigorating, as any rescue dive should be. :) Here's a Facebook event link, too.

And... because it's National Poetry Month, and I live in a small house already stacked with books, I'll be giving away poetry books each Friday! Today's offering: the beautiful verse novel LAND OF THE CRANES by Aida Salazar.


Simply leave a comment, and our cat Maggie will choose a winner on Sunday. Good luck!

This week's ArtSpeak: FOUR SEASONS continues our romp into spring... and it's a piece from Portland Art Museum. Thank you for reading!



Spring Forward

If you bend with the river
between stands of bamboo

if you let yourself trickle
          flow

meander
                        move—

you'll land in a cradle
of mountains and sky,

where clouds
billow a bracing lullaby.

Awake!
Let your thoughts quiver!

Dreams will unfurl
if you bend with the river.

- Irene Latham

Friday, March 26, 2021

Early Spring Rispetto

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Susan at Soul Blossom Living for Roundup.


I've been away from my desk this week, spending time with my mother. But I do have two newsy bits to share—D-39: A Robodog's Journey got its first review from Kirkus, and it's a good one! Here's an excerpt: 

"Latham uses an invented lexicon of delightfully creative and expressive hybrid words—jinglesnapboomblastsitchglitchy—to tell this... girl-meets-dog story of hope, perseverance, and survival."


And Miss Fancy is in the news! Yay for this new discovery. I look forward to being part of these celebrations!

 Yes, of course I wrote a new ArtSpeak: FOUR SEASONS poem... the first "spring" poem of the year. Yay! Since it's a new season, I decided to try a new-to-me poetry form. Ever heard of a rispetto? 

1. Rispetto is a short poetic form of Italian origin comprising of 11 syllables per line. 

2. It has 8 lines. 

3. Rispetto uses the ababccdd rhyme scheme.

Fun! I hope you'll try it. Meanwhile, here's mine, after work by new-to-me Aussie artist Elioth Gruner. Thank you for reading!


Early Spring Rispetto


Again frost blankets greening pasture
as cows wait for the warm-faced farmer.
Yesterday it seemed sun climbed faster,
but today shadows wear cold armor.

Cows pace alongside familiar fence—
O, Spring! That season of wild suspense!
Whether sun or rain or heat or breeze,
when the farmer comes, cows low, Yes, please!

- Irene Latham

Friday, March 19, 2021

Experience WILD PEACE with Il Sung Na... and a Cover Reveal!

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Linda at TeacherDance for Roundup. You can find my latest ArtSpeak: FOUR SEASONS poem "Saying Goodbye to Winter" here.

Today I am happy to welcome children's book illustrator Il Sung Na to talk about our new book WILD PEACE, which will be released Oct. 18 by Roaring Brook Press. 

WILD PEACE was inspired by a poem: "The Peace of Wild Things" by Wendell Berry, and the text is a long poem that celebrates peace, and explores what wild animals can teach us about peace.

To celebrate the cover reveal (below! keep reading!), I invited Il Sung to respond to a few prompts, specifically about WILD PEACE. 

But before we get to that, I have to share something else about Il Sung: when I contact him with my request to purchase a piece of the original art, Il Sung let me know that the work was created digitally, so there was no original art, per say. Instead he offered to send me a print of my requested spread... which was the "rabbit" spread, since we call our home the Happy Rabbit Hideaway! Only I didn't tell Il Sung that. So imagine my surprise and delight when along with the rabbit spread, he included a small original piece... of a RABBIT!! Oh, the serendipity! And the kindness of one Il Sung Na. Thank you thank you thank you!

what I got in the mail!

And now, please join me in welcoming Il Sung to Live Your Poem!

IL: What was the delicious/best/most enjoyable thing about working on WILD PEACE?

ISN: My all time favorite thing about working on this book and other books is always coloring. When I do colors, I don’t have to worry about composition and layout anymore but just enjoying.

Sometimes it takes a while to find the right colors to convey the mood, sometimes it comes once.

I typically have some color palettes in mind but it can change as I adding colors.


working on endpaper

IL: What was the most difficult thing about working on WILD PEACE?

ISN: The most difficult part was thumbnail sketches, the first idea sketches for the story. When I first got the manuscript and read it multiple times, I had two different ideas for images. The first idea was the girl finds a butterfly and follows, and steps into a wall where she drew some greens. Then all her journey starts in her imagination.

very first thumbnail sketches that the girl
goes through a wall using the gutter

The second idea was more literal. The girl begins her journey away from all noises that other kids make by simply walk out to a door.

This first one's more imaginative, and I wasn’t sure whether the publisher would agree with this concept. But luckily they did!

revised sketches

more revisions


final color spread


I wanted to bring the girl back to the real world somehow and it was a challenge for me to figure out. As I used a butterfly (red) to lead her to a forest, I used a fox (red) to be the one who guides her to come back home. I tried to show a fox stuffed toy as well as a fox drawing on her sketchpad in the beginning of the story, so all visual story connects seamlessly. 

My favorite spread is the one which all three visual elements, the girl, a butterfly and a fox, meet in one place. [below]

Il Sung's favorite spread!

IL: What was something unexpected/fresh (or something that you learned) while working on WILD PEACE?

ISN: It is the story itself. Every project/book I have worked on brings new/unexpected/fresh learning.

There are always struggles and Eureka moments. Understanding the main character’s emotions and finding visual flows is a part of struggles. Each book has a different approach and different struggles.

This book was no different. It was a new challenge from the time I received the manuscript. I wanted to understand this girl’s emotion and how it changes throughout the story. I wanted to capture the moment to convey the right mood. But also I wanted to find the right visual language to show it.

I typically do cover sketches in the end after all inside spreads are done—because I want to know and understand the story more before I work on cover ideas.


cover sketch ideas


revised cover sketch

... and drumroll please...... here's the final cover image:



Aside from Irene: Isn't it dreamy?!!

IL: Where do you find peace?

ISN: There are a few things I do. 

Pippi!

ONE: I find peace while I drink a GOOD hot chocolate or eat GOOD dark chocolate. I have found one place in London where they make REAL hot chocolate. Back when I lived there. I used to visit quite often. (It is a loooooong time ago already!) 

TWO: Being alone in my studio and not working on any books but just doodling. This makes me feel calm and forget about other things.

THREE: Short walk with my wife and Pippi (a little dog, 2yrs old).


IL: Thank you, Il Sung! And thank you, readers, for celebrating WILD PEACE with us. 


Pippi says, "Goodbye! Hope your
day is as happy as mine!"