Friday, May 13, 2022

Butterfly Poem


Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Rose at Imagine the Possibilities for Roundup. 

I'm on the road today, heading for Murfreesboro, TN, where tomorrow I'll be part of the Southern Kid Literary Festival. I can't wait to share D-39 and The Cat Man of Aleppo with 3rd-5th graders! And...I get to hang out with my mom and the Tennessee contingent of my family. YAY!

I'll leave you with an ArtSpeak: Animals spring-y butterfly poem. Since the collective noun for sharks (shiver) was so well received last week, I decided to include one of the collective nouns for butterflies. Thank you so much for reading.

Meadow Kaleidoscope

A hundred butterflies

find flower-dish
after delicious flower-

O sippety-slurp!—

enough for you and you
and you!

What is spring,
but a smorgasbord

of wishes
come         true?

Friday, May 6, 2022

Shark Poem

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Indulge in ALL the deliciousness over at Jama's Alphabet Soup

I've got sharks on my mind. And when I found Utagawa Kuniyoshi's gorgeous piece of art, I knew I needed to write a shark poem this week. 

But before we get to that... have you had a chance to read ZOOBILATIONS! by Douglas Florian? It's full of animals and puns and art kids will be able to relate to. There's humor, of course, and some lovely surprises, like "The Dove," which is two lines of wonderment. Get the book and tell me you agree. :)

As for my ArtSpeak: ANIMALS poem, you'll notice the formatting looks different on the graphic than in the body of this post. I wanted to shape this poem like a tornado, but there wasn't room for it on the graphic! So...I tried an alternate formatting for the graphic. (Isn't poetry fun??) Thank you so much for reading!

When a shiver of sharks rise from the deep

you forget for a moment

fins tail teeth—

so graceful

so sleek!

They are one

gray tornado


in a world


than blue.

- Irene Latham

Friday, April 29, 2022

Why Grasshopper Wants to Meet the Moon (poem)

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Jone Rush MacCulloch for our last Roundup of National Poetry Month. (It flew by, didn't it??)

Today's ArtSpeak: Animals poem features a grasshopper! I wrote quite a few drafts for this one, with different angles and ideas... and along the way, I did a little research. One thing I learned is that grasshoppers have existed longer than the dinosaurs! Here are the particulars:

" Modern-day grasshoppers descend from ancient ancestors that lived long before dinosaurs roamed the Earth. The fossil record shows that primitive grasshoppers first appeared during the Carboniferous period, more than 300 million years ago. Most ancient grasshoppers are preserved as fossils, although grasshopper nymphs (the second stage in the grasshopper lifestyle after the initial egg phase) are occasionally found in amber."

 You can read the whole article at Thought Co.

And here's my poem! (Sadly, their dino-history didn't make it into this version of the poem.) Thanks so much for reading.

Why Grasshopper Wants to Meet the Moon

Sunhopper knows


will be over soon—

one must leap,


h a n g  on—

for sky is where

dreams bloom.

- Irene Latham

Friday, April 22, 2022

I followed a little cat one day (poem)

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

Spring has most certainly sprung in these parts! I love this time of year for many reasons, not the least of which is arts & craft fairs. This weekend I'm daytripping to three such occasions...yay!

Earlier this week I presented with Karim Shamsi-Basha at University of Montevallo about The Cat Man of Aleppo. Huge thanks to all you fabulous folks at Montevallo!!

(l-r) Carey Heatherly, Irene Latham,
Karim Shamsi-Basha, Sheila Brandt

Which may explain why this week's ArtSpeak: Animals features a cat poem. Our beloved Maggie is 12 years old now. What a sweet friend she is! In fact, she helped me with this poem. Thank you so much for reading.

I followed a little cat one day

I crouched
yowled and scatted.
I chased my own tail.
Later, I puddled
in a circle of sunshine.
I bathed with July eyes
and an August tongue.
I   s tr e t c h e d—
all the way to next year.
I learned claws
are for sharpening,
string for tangling.
A box is a beginning,
and a purr?
Now this little cat
knows a purr
is the cure
for just about anything.


- Irene Latham

Friday, April 15, 2022

On Parrots and Friendship (poem)


Hello and Happy National Poetry Month! Be sure to visit Matt at Radio, Rhythm, & Rhyme for Roundup.

Happy almost Easter! On this Good Friday I'm out gallivanting with my Garden Girls, but I do have a poem...and a pic of me and the sweetest, fluffiest Angora rabbit you ever did see. Holding it, I felt like I was 8 years old again. :)

Today's ArtSpeak: Animals poem features parrots. Don't you love those across-the-decades friendships where you can instantly dive in with honesty and vulnerability? Today's poem is about that.

Two Parrots Take a Walk Together in Spring

While songbirds patter about sky and rain,
parrots promenade like twin kings.

Old friends, they chatter about the beauty
the season brings—

Bees, wide-awake petals;
heat, and tender new wings.

Never enough time, so they're quick
to say the important things—

You are the cure for winter.
When we're together, my spirit sings.

- Irene Latham

Friday, April 8, 2022

On Indecision (and Zebras!)

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Janice at Salt City Verse for Roundup.

Our community is simply bursting with poetic goodness this month, isn't it? So lovely.

My ArtSpeak: Animals poem today features a zebra. 

I have attempted to write on this particular piece of art several times so far this year, and it just wasn't working!  

Today's effort has an emotional focus—about something I struggle with in real life! I'm a fence-stradler, a Pisces (fish swimming in opposite directions)...I can most often see both sides of a situation. Do I have to choose? Can't I have BOTH? Sigh. And so...this poem. Thank you so much for reading.



my zebra heart

doesn't know

when to


and when to


- Irene Latham


Long-time readers may remember I had another zebra poem in my debut poetry book for kids (way back in 2014!) DEAR WANDERING WILDEBEEST: And Other Poems From the Water Hole.

It features that quality among zebra herds in which the zebras work as a team. The whole herd starts moving about so that predators can't tell where one zebra begins and the other ends! 

 If you're one of those writing a poem a day this month, what a gift you're giving yourself and the world. KEEP GOING!!! xo

Friday, April 1, 2022

National Poetry Month Begins!

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Heidi at my juicy little universe for Roundup. Yay for the start of National Poetry Month, too.

In case you missed it, Tuesday 2-Minute Writing Tip #20 is about "How to Live Your Poem." What better time than National Poetry Month to share the wisdom and guidance poetry can provide? To hear some of the lines that inspire me, check out the (short!) video on youtube.

AND... I am away from my desk today, but I do have the first line of our Progressive Poem for you!

It's not an original-by-me line. Instead I lifted a line from one of my most favorite books ever: THE IMAGINARIES: Little Scraps of Larger Stories by Emily Winfield Martin. All the lines (and art) in this book were meant to inspire new projects... so, voila!

2022 Progressive Poem

Where they were going, there were no maps.


I can't wait to see what happens next! You can follow along with this schedule. Thanks so much to Margaret for organizing and creating the beautiful graphic!

1 April 1 Irene at Live Your Poem

2 Donna Smith at Mainly Write
3 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
4 Mary Lee at A(nother) Year of Reading
5 Buffy at Buffy Silverman
6 Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone
7 Kim Johnson at Common Threads
8 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
9 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
10 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
11 Janet Fagel at Reflections on the Teche
12 Jone at Jone Rush MacCulloch
13 Karin Fisher-Golton at Still in Awe
14 Denise Krebs at Dare to Care
15 Carol Labuzzetta @ The Apples in my Orchard
16 Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
17 Ruth at There is no such thing as a God-forsaken Town
18 Patricia at Reverie
19 Christie at Wondering and Wandering
20 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
21 Kevin at Dog Trax
22 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
23 Leigh Anne at A Day in the Life
24 Marcie Atkins
25 Marilyn Garcia
26 JoAnn Early Macken
27 Janice at Salt City Verse
28 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
29 Karen Eastlund at Karen’s Got a Blog
30 Michelle Kogan Painting, Illustration, & Writing

and now, the latest poem in my Artspeak: Animals adventure! Today I have a(nother) tiger for you. Thank you so much for reading.

Tiger Talk Triolet

When a tiger's tail begins to flick
she's roaring with her muscles:
Go away, quick!
When a tiger's tail begins to flick,
giving her space is the trick.
Notice how your heart rustles
when a tiger's tail begins to flick?
Tiger's not the only one roaring with her muscles.

- Irene Latham

Friday, March 25, 2022

Empathy Has Long Ears (poem)

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Amy at The Poem Farm for Roundup. Amy has a new book If This Bird Had Pockets that I haven't read yet, but am very much looking forward to!

It's always exciting to read books written by those in our community. This week it was my delight to read two: What Snail Knows by Kathryn Apel and Hidden Powers: Lise Meitner's Call to Science by Jeannine Atkins.

Both are verse novels. Both feature girls who are shy and who bust through limitations to achieve important things.

In What Snail Knows, I instantly related to in-her-shell, always-moving Lucy. I also felt like I knew her don't-need-anyone dad. And I LOVED how playful Kat was with language and shape in the poems! (In the very first poem there's text in the shape of a number 2! (There's also a car-shaped poem, and a snail-shaped one... AND then there's wordplay, like this poem, which happens when the class is helping the environment by participating in an organized catch of an invasive toad species:

We Loop

We group.

    We troop.

        We swoop.

              We scoop.

                  We whoop!

We nab a knot

          ( a lot!)

of toads.

- Kathryn Apel

Yes, a group of toads is called a knot! (New to me -- I love learning things in books!)

This book reminded me of what's possible for our young age 6-7 readers. Lovely! Don't miss it!

Turning now to Hidden Powers. As a book collaborator, I was drawn to Lise and her collaboration with Otto...and how they hang out with Einstein and the Curies. The story behind the discovery and development of the atomic bomb is fascinating. And Jeannine is brilliant at painting her characters as real, full-fleshed out individuals. And this book really shows the struggle women experience, particularly in male-dominated fields. I always enjoy Jeannine's fresh, beautiful figurative language, like:

"She runs her hand over her mother's hair,

wrinkled and gray like a lake in a storm."

Jeannine reminds us the power of verbs in poetry, like here:

"Lise crushes the newspaper, tosses it into the hearth.

The paper flares, darkens, and shivers into ash."

and Jeannine shows us the elegance and emotional truth that poetry offers:

"She won't wish that she didn't discover

what she discovered. But she wishes everyone

would try to see as if by the light of two candles:

one calling to witness, one to remember."

Thanks to both for these beautiful books!

Gratitude also to Saemi for including Live Your Poem alongside some other wonderful poetry blogs for children. View the post of recommendations on Twinkl!


For today's ArtSpeak: Animals poem, I decided to go with a rabbit! (Hoppy Spring!) It took me a while to find the character trait I wanted to use for the metaphor, but when I did, if felt just-right. I love when that happens. :) Thanks so much for reading.

Empathy Has Long Ears

always soft,

with veins
of understanding

both radar
and weathervane


I'm here
I hear you

are the song
I sing

- Irene Latham

Friday, March 18, 2022

Creativity Is a Chameleon (poem)

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Ruth at There is no such thing as a godforsaken town for Roundup.

I realized this week that my ArtSpeak: Animals project so far has been a bit heavy on mammals. So today I have a reptile for you!

Fun fact: I thought chameleons were amphibians...but no! Because they do not undergo metamorphosis, and they are cold blooded with scaly skin, they are reptiles.

And since I've (pretty much always) got creativity on my mind, here you go! Thank you so much for reading.

Creativity is a Chameleon

as it absorbs
of new ideas

    tail curling
    each eye circling

until sticky tongue
zipzaps a fly

as a thousand colors

- Irene Latham

Friday, March 11, 2022

Tenderness is a Tiger (poem)


Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit that oh-so-amazing duo Sylvia & Janet at Poetry for Children for Roundup.

I am teaching today virtually, helping students at Fox Meadow Elementary (Scarsdale, NY) craft anecdotes to go with their poems ala DICTIONARY FOR A BETTER WORLD. Fun!

My latest ArtSpeak: Animals poem started out as a poem about a zebra...and when that wasn't working, I switched to a tiger... and voila! Thank you so much for reading.

Tenderness is a Tiger

Tenderness is a tiger
cleaning its paw

barnacled tongue
creeps between claws


gathering dirt
and crumbs
before they fall.

Tenderness is a tiger
stretching in the sun

whiskers twitch, breath 
soon comes undone


as cubs tackle her tail—
even in sleep,
she welcomes their fun.

- Irene Latham

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Friday, March 4, 2022

Joy Serenades the Stars (poem)

Flowers brightening
my bathroom window
on a sunny morning.
Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit happy Kat at Kathryn Apel for Roundup.

I'm away from my desk this week, at Monroeville Literary Festival in Monroeville, Alabama (home of Harper Lee!) with my mom (!) and Charles Waters. Here's some scenes from traveling some of the same roads a decade ago!

Back in 2020, Monroeville Literary Festival was my last public event before covid shuttered the world...I'm glad to be making new memories.

Today's ArtSpeak: Animals poem features a coyote! 

I don't have a lot of experience with coyotes, though a highlight of our Yellowstone adventure a few years back was watching a coyote amble across a gas station parking lot. Cars were EVERYWHERE -- people, too -- and this critter wasn't bothered in the least. It wasn't the "in the wild" experience we were after, but it taught us something true about humans and wildlife interaction, something both sad and hopeful. But my poem is not about that, not really. :) Thanks so much for reading!

Joy Serenades the Stars

must stop

must lift voice

must tell the sky
the planets
the galaxies

I am here

night so brisk
so infinite

I am alive

- Irene Latham

Friday, February 25, 2022

Hope Has Long Legs (poem)

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure and visit Tricia at Miss Rumphius Effect for Roundup.

Well, it's been a rough week in these parts. I've been sick! But I'm improving now, thank goodness! Just in time for my birthday. :)  HAPPY! HAPPY! to all the others in our community who have birthday around this time.

I do have an ArtSpeak: Animals poem for you. This time, a stork! 

My favorite storks from childhood:

The stork that brings baby Dumbo in the Disney movie.


These days we spend a lot of time watching stork-like blue herons at the shore of our lake. They definitely do a lot of watching and waiting...

thank you so much for reading!

Hope Has Long Legs

It wades all day
in the shallows


time nothing more
than a ripple
of minnows, mice

each moment
a feast
of sunlight
and possibility

- Irene Latham

Friday, February 18, 2022

Pride Has 12 Points (poem)

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Laura at Small Reads for Brighter Days for Roundup.

Goodness, what a week!
Charles Waters and I traveled to Africatown to share our book as part of The Spirits of Our Ancestors festival. It was A-MAZ-ING!

I was a visitor on Reading With Your Kids podcast about SNAIL'S ARK in such a lovely, rich discussion... Link coming soon!

I joined Charles, our editor Stacey Barney, and other verse novelists Ellen Hagen and Colby Cedar Smith in a beautiful evening of poetry and history and books. View the recording here.

I launched my first-ever digital course for writers by presenting 2 FREE Masterclasses... THANK YOU for joining me!!

In case you missed it, enrollment is now open for Wild & Precious Writer: How to Optimize Your Creativity for More Joy, Confidence, and Your Best Writing Yet! (enrollment will close next Thursday, Feb. 24)

And... I'm not done yet! (Though I am feeling a bit under the weather...) The final free Masterclass will be next Wednesday, Feb. 23, 4 pm cst. Register here.

Meanwhile, here's the latest poem in ArtSpeak: Animals. Poets, please note: this poem shifted to first person (all the others in this series are third person)... I mean, "pride!" It HAS to be in first person, yes? Thank you for reading!

Pride Has 12 Points

I hold my head high,

I look the world
in the eye.

Whatever winds blow,

whatever the day's

I climb.

This mountaintop?


- Irene Latham

Friday, February 11, 2022

Forgiveness is a Small Bird (poem)

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

I am away from my desk today, visiting Africatown with Charles Waters!

But I do have some news for you, and a poem.


I'm offering a FREE Masterclass for writers entitled Optimal Creativity Has Nothing to Do With Discipline: 3 Myths That Can Wreck our Writing (and What to Do Instead). 

I'm super-excited to share this content with all of you! The things I'll be sharing have been game-changers in my writing life, and I know they can make a difference in your writing life as well. I'll also be sharing how you can work with me. :)

Pick your time (3 options!), and I'll see you there! Click here for the registration page.

In case you missed it: This month's Homeschool Poetry Party featured LOVE poems, of course! View the video here.

And now for today's poem! If Carel Fabritius's Goldfinch piece wasn't already a favorite, it gained even more fans when Donna Tartt's Pulitzer Prize winning book THE GOLDFINCH was released (and also adapted for film). 

I puzzled for several days about what metaphor I wanted to lend this piece...and then voila! it came to me, and it feels just-right. (Turns out, during the time this painting was created, people were fond of keeping goldfinches as pets. It's hard to see the chain attached to the bird's leg in the painting, but look closer, it's there.)

Thank you so much for reading!

Forgiveness is a Small Bird


it will lift 

into the sky

sun kissing

its wings 

-Irene Latham

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Friday, February 4, 2022

Confidence Wears a Prickly Coat (poem)


Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Elisabeth at Unexpected Intersections for Roundup.

I've got snails on my mind...because SNAIL'S ARK comes out next Tuesday! It features gorgeous illustrations by Mehrdokht Amini—who also did the illustrations for DICTIONARY FOR A BETTER WORLD. (The wooden Noah's Ark is a treasure I found recently at a yard sale!)

...and Kat Apel has a snail book coming, too: WHAT SNAIL KNOWS. It's a middle grade verse novel about a shy kid... I can't wait to read it!!

AND I've got CONFIDENCE on my mind, too. Who better than a (prickly) hedgehog to deliver this message? I'm sure there are many animals that could do it, but I'm particularly attracted to quiet confidence. And so...

Confidence Wears a Prickly Coat

it forages
with soft,
quick feet

it rolls
into a simple

stays round,

until it's ready
to amble on

- Irene Latham

Thanks so much for reading!

Thursday, January 27, 2022

A Little Patience for Poetry Friday Roundup!

Hello and welcome to Poetry Friday! Roundup is HERE! Please leave your links below.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
Before I get to my post, here's an event invitation for you!

And some good news from the ALA Youth Media Awards... D-39:A Robodog's Journey was named to the Sci-Fi Notables List, more officially, The Eleanor Cameron Notable Middle Grade Books List. Hooray for Klynt & D-39! So many thanks to the committee for this recognition. 💜

I've been thinking about patience—and how hard it is! Also about how yes, we need patience... but we also need a bit of impatience to accomplish our dreams. 

Sometimes we need to wait less, think less—and DO more. 

Other times we need to hard-stop DOing and simply rest—BE.

Sorry, I have no answers for when to do which! But doesn't it help to know this is something we ALL struggle with?

Poems help, too. Here's a few patience poems for you.


Teach me your mood, O patient stars!
by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Teach me your mood, O patient stars!
Who climb each night the ancient sky,
Leaving no space no shade, no scars,
No trace of age, no fear to die.


Ode to a Maintenance Man and His Family
by Kay Boyle

Renato O. Jones, you maintain my beliefs
And service my thoughts when they cease to function.
You repair the ailing equipage of the present, transform
The past into flowers around the shuffle-board court
Where there were none before. You speak
The melodious languages of countries that bask
In the sun, employ vacuum respirator as though
It were rod or staff from the garden of Paradise.

You anoint windowpanes with Windex and kneel
In concern for stains on the carpeting,
As men knelt in ancient cathedrals where their voices
Murmured in prayer. You restore me with dance-steps
From harbors you knew: Shanghai, Marseilles, Trinidad,
And how many others. The songs that you sing
(As you unclog drains or retrieve lights when bulbs
flicker and fail or weave copper patches into the webs
Of damaged screen doors) are magical with the music
Of names of your family: Carmelita, Christopher, Dissere,
Alex and Mark, and Keven and Kenneth and Kerwin.

Each day you say to me - not in words but in the eloquence 
Of your presence - that infinite patience with mankind is everything.

I found this poem in my (1996) copy of THE GIFT OF TONGUES, a beautiful anthology from Copper Canyon Press. More about Kay Boyle here.


"Patience" by Marilyn Singer —posted here at Live Your Poem a few years ago! It expresses so well one of the reasons I love mountain (lake) life!

...and finally, my latest ArtSpeak: ANIMALS poem continues the theme set forth in "Courage Has Four Feet" and "Wisdom Has Wide Eyes."

Today's piece features a turtle dove as depicted by Chinese Ming Dynasty artist Shen Zhou

Words that come up a lot about Shen Zhou's landscapes, flowers, and other works are "reverent" and "gentle." I find his work both those things and would add: "warm" and "calming." His work definitely inspires patience in me. Thank you so much for reading!

Patience Has a Soft Voice

it hums across
dusty summer

long, searing season
with a whisper-gentle song


drowsy clouds

sky-door opens—



- Irene Latham

Friday, January 21, 2022

Wisdom Has Wide Eyes (poem)

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

I'm super-excited about Wild & Precious Writer, the digital course I'll be launching next month! Gratitude to those who have joined me as Founding Members...I'm so grateful for your enthusiasm and support... and your devotion to your writing life. Beautiful!

And if you don't know what I'm talking about, read this post...and go here to subscribe to my email list so that you don't miss out on all the goodness that's coming. :) (Founding Member offer was made through my email list.)

Today's poem is a companion piece to last week's "Courage Has Four Feet." Perhaps this is a theme I'll revisit during this year of ArtSpeak: Animals? We'll see! Meanwhile, enjoy Dürer's Little Owl from way back in the Northern Renaissance, when "animal paintings" became a genre of art. 

Like Leonardo da Vinci, Dürer aimed to be precise and often used real (stuffed) specimens as models for his work. At the time, these pieces were considered more "craft" than "art." I'm kind of in love with them and will be featuring quite a few of Dürer's animals this year. :) 

Here's a quote that celebrates the beauty of what's "real," the idea that governed these artists' work:

"Nature holds the beautiful, for the artist who has the insight to extract it. Thus, beauty lies even in humble, perhaps ugly things, and the ideal, which bypasses or improves on nature, may not be truly beautiful in the end." - Albrecht Dürer

Something to think about as we write our poems: what makes them beautiful?

Thank you so much for reading!

Wisdom Has Wide Eyes

it blends in,

listens to starshimmer,
studies canopies
and knotholes

stays awake
across cruelest hours
to hunt

for meaning

once seen,
the sky cannot be

- Irene Latham

Friday, January 14, 2022

Courage Has Four Feet (poem)

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure and visit Mary Lee at A(nother) Year of Reading for Roundup.

Today's ArtSpeak: Animals poem is inspired by one of Leonardo da Vinci's drawings. I so appreciate his desire for accuracy, and how his studies and drawings were an essential part of the process. 

I think we writers do our own versions of this as we research and draft and cut and try again! 

In fact, the Private Eye method (which I've shared about many times and continue to practice!) is equally as concerned with finding the right words as it is about drawing in exquisite detail what you see in the jeweler's loupe. It's such a great practice for writers... if you haven't tried it, I hope you will!

And here's a quote to consider...although please don't use it as an excuse to stay in research mode some point, one must simply WRITE the thing! (Ahem. Writing these words as much for myself as anyone!)

"For verily, great love springs from great knowledge of the beloved object, and if you little know it, you will be able to love it only a little or not at all." - Leonardo da Vinci

And now, my poem! Thank you so much for reading.

Courage Has Four Feet

sometimes it wakes

a bear summoned
by snowmelt

it shuffles
into a greening wood
thunder in its throat
lightning it its eyes

beneath each
wobbly step

- Irene Latham

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Homeschool Poetry Party! (For the Love of Words)

 Hello and welcome to your every-9th-of-the-Month Homeschool Poetry Party!

I love words. Don't you? I love the way they taste and how they feel rolling around in my mouth.

Dictionaries? Yes!

Thesauruses? Delicious!

Books celebrating words? YUM!

(Future Word Nerds are sure to enjoy ABSURB WORDS by Tara Lazar!)

And sometimes (okay, A LOT of times, I like to invent words.

Have you ever invented a word?

Poetry is a great place to put your invented words! Do you know the poem “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll? It contains quite a few invented words.

Here are three invented words in the poem:

1. Jabberwocky – yes, the title of the poem is an invented word! It's a noun (person, place, or thing).

Right now, before we go on, draw a picture of what you think a “jabberwocky” might be.

2. Frabjous – this word is used as an adjective, which means it describes something... “O frabjous day!”

Before you read the poem, what kind of day do you think a “frabjous” day would be like? Happy, sad, windy, hot, winter, spring? Write down a few synonyms.

3. Whiffling – this word is used as a verb, which means it's an action.

Describe the kind of action you imagine a “whiffle” or “whiffling” to be. Is it like “sleep” or “sleeping” or like “run” or “running”? Or something else entirely?

Now here's the poem.


by Lewis Carroll

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

'Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!'

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood a while in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One two! One two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

'And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.


Did your guesses match the poem? Do your definitions “fit”?

Whether they did or not, the great news is that you, too, can write a poem with invented words! 

I invented A LOT of words for my book D-39: A Robodog's Journey.

For those new to the Homeschool Poetry Party, you're invited to join the mailing list and download an Invent-Your-Own-Word worksheet. 

I suggest you invent at least 3 words: one noun, one adjective, and one verb.

Once you've invented a few words, try placing them in a poem! Maybe your poem will be a story-poem like “Jabberwocky.” Maybe it will be about an imaginary creature... or a robodog! Or something else. It's up to you!

You're invited to share your poem on our community Poetry Party padlet.

Coming next month: an exciting announcement about a Poetry Party LIVE virtual event, and you're all invited! If you're not already on the mailing list, be sure to join so you don't miss anything.