Thursday, May 29, 2008


Okay, this pic would benefit from a bit of editing, but I didn't want to wait to share it. I took it at the Nickelodeon Suites in Orlando, Florida, the last time we traveled to Disney World. (While Paul and the kids were getting slimed, I was wandering around the lake taking nature pics.)

Don't you love that question-mark shadow? Check back for Sunday's showcase poem that was inspired (in part) by this photo.

“Question everything. Learn something. Answer nothing.”

- Euripides (Greek playwright, c. 480-406 BC)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I read once that middle children are the fiercest competitors, despite what you may have heard about those high-achieving firstborn kids.

And I gotta tell you, as a middle child who also knows that peacekeeper role really well, I think it's true about the competitive spirit being alive and well in those who find themselves in the middle. Which is why I love this Gandhi quote. Because his name is almost synonymous with "peace" yet he was also a fighter.

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

- Mahatma Gandhi

Sunday, May 25, 2008


On Monday I Flew to Selma

with my brother’s friend Bob
in his little green 210 Cessna
and my hair was up in a ponytail
and I had on this cute pink top

and on the way back
he let me take the wheel
and it’s very sensitive, that wheel,
even the slightest movement
makes the plane move
and I wasn’t nervous, no,
not with Bob there,
but it wasn’t much fun, either –
too much responsibility,
but oh boy how the world looks
different from up there,
the cars all tiny
and Bob all big right there beside me
our shoulders touching
Whaddoyathink, Kid? he shouted
over the noise of the motor

and three days later
my head is still spinning a little,
I’m so happy we’re friends,
me and Bob,
like he could be my father,
but he’s not,
and he could be my lover,
but he’s not,
He’s Bob, and the slightest
little move he made in that plane,
I felt it.

- Irene Latham

I really did ride to Selma with my friend Bob... it was my first time to be up in a small plane, and it was really cool but it also made me feel very fragile and small. Since then Bob has also taken me up in a different plane -- I think he had high hopes of turning me into a pilot. Alas. It's not for me. But I wouldn't have known that had I not given it a whirl.

"If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise."

- Robert Fritz

Friday, May 23, 2008


Whew! I'm "happy as a dog with two tails." (that one courtesy of Mark Twain, from The Adventures of Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass)

Thursday, May 22, 2008


I took the kids to the park the other day, and this is what I got for my trouble.

Doesn't it look like someone took a giant paintbrush and just swirled those clouds all around? Or maybe the setting sun is the jar of paint. I don't know, but it totally inspires me. Hope it does something for you too!

"Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic, be enthusiastic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


As many of you know, I am all about the interaction of the arts. So far for me, this has mostly involved combining poetry with visual art in the WHICH CAME FIRST - POETRY OR PAINT? exhibit with poems by me and art by Liz Reed.

But how exciting is this? Literature and MUSIC.

If you are as intrigued as I am, submit something to my friend and fellow poet Marianne Worthington. (This is on my short list - yes, Marianne, I will be sending you something just as soon as I write it!)

M O T I F is a new anthology series published annually by MotesBooks of Louisville, KY

Each volume in the series focuses on a theme. The first is MUSIC.
Anthology series title: M O T I F
Working title for Volume 1: WRITING BY EAR
Theme for this volume: music
Editor: Marianne Worthington
Submission deadline: August 5, 2008
Publication: November 2008

The inaugural Motif Anthology will accept submissions of these lengths:
prose - under 3,000 words
poetry/lyrics - up to 3 pieces.
All genres will be considered as long as music is referenced in the works. Submissions may address music either directly or indirectly, but the presence of music should figure significantly and artfully in the piece.

Submissions may be poems, short stories, song lyrics, short memoirs, essays, letters, creative nonfiction, or other forms. Combinations of forms are acceptable up to the limits described herein.

Each contributor whose work is accepted will receive one (1) complimentary copy of the book upon publication as payment. Contributors will also receive an ongoing contributor's discount (equivalent to wholesale pricing) for unlimited purchase of additional copies to use or resell.

Marketing outlets will include,, and the publisher's website: Special marketing strategies will also be utilized, including at least one public reading with selected contributors by invitation of the publisher.

* Submit by email.
* Send manuscript (Arial 12 pt., single-spaced) as a .doc file (Word document) to IMPORTANT: Use "MOTIF Anthology" as the subject line (email containing blank subject lines will automatically be deleted; other subject lines may inadvertently be tagged as spam).
* Include all author contact information (including phone, snail mail, and e-mail address) with each submission.
* Do not send previously published or simultaneously submitted material.
* Include a 50-60 word bio to appear in “contributor's notes” section of the anthology if work is accepted.
* Submission period closes August 5, 2008. Publication is slated for November 2008.

For clarification or questions, visit
or email

"The secret to my success is that I bit off more than I could chew and chewed as fast as I could."

- Paul Hogan

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


So I'm a few days from the deadline for my revision, and I'm to that point where my brain is so saturated I can hardly see straight.

Here's the thought I keep coming back to: Every thing we do, every single word we write matters. And if you've ever lived in Alabama or spent any time in the deep south, then you will especially appreciate today's quote.

"If you think you're too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room."

- Anita Roddick

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Things That Can Only Be Whispered

Like names of past lovers
when the lights are out,
when your arms and legs
are wound together in loose knots
and he says tell me.

Like memories of the dead,
especially the ones
that crash into your consciousness
like waves upon a rocky shore,
until even the air you breathe
tastes like salt.

Like accidental confessions
crawling past careless lips
or even intentional ones
coming in a dry rush
that want only to drift
like snow, to find the ground
and erase every detail
yet can’t and don’t.

Like the words
for all the ways
you’d like to love his body,
new words that haven’t
been thought of yet,
syllables you find behind his ear
and in the folds of his kiss
just before he turns to go.

- Irene Latham

"Change the name and it's about you, that story."

- Horace

Friday, May 16, 2008


So Eric, who's eight, says, "Mom,
what's your favorite word?"

I pause as a million words flash through my brain.
A million words I will not choose
because there's only one answer to this question.

"Love," I say.
"I knew you were going to say that," says he.

Wishing each and every one of you a love-filled day!

"At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet."

- Plato

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Here's another great pic courtesy of Lynn the Great.

For some reason it's got me thinking about the word serendipity. I mean, what a great word! And really, isn't serendipity just about paying attention? How many serendipitous moments must we miss simply because we are too busy to notice? How many wonderful stories are hidden inside us just waiting for the pen?

Something to think about...

"Serendipity is looking in a haystack for a needle and discovering a farmer’s daughter."

- Julius Comroe Jr.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


This is what Andrew's arm looked like just after he fell at the skating rink and we knew it was broken but were waiting for the call-back from his doctor to decide which hospital to go to.

This is what Andrew's arm looks like now.

The great thing about it is now Andrew has a new story to tell. And he and I have something new in common: I also broke my arm as a child (twice) and now Andrew has to be left-handed (like me!) for a while.

The bonus for me is I get to go back in time and wash my baby boy's hair. :)

“There isn't any symbolism. The sea is the sea. The old man is an old man. The boy is a boy and the fish is a fish. The shark are all sharks no better and no worse. All the symbolism that people say is shit. What goes beyond is what you see beyond when you know.”

- Ernest Hemingway

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


It truly is the little things that make all the difference. Like this award from Alison. Thank you, my friend, for spreading the joy and making the world a better place.

Now to pay it forward: Paul and the kids made me feel so special on Mother's Day. I got an uninterrupted nap and spinach dip at our most favorite Mexican restaurant. And I got the treasures pictured below. Folks, it doesn't get much better than this.

Thanks, fellas, for making me feel very loved. Now, back to the trenches. Be back tomorrow to explain Andrew's #2 (the last list).

"When you love a man, he becomes more than a body. His physical limbs expand, and his outline recedes, vanishes. He is rich and sweet and right. He is part of the world, the atmosphere, the blue sky and the blue water."

- Gwendolyn Brooks

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Black Dress
- for my mother

Where is the black dress
I watched you cut
from satin sheets?

Handmade with love
the label declared,
as they all did.

What did I know then of love?

I thought I needed
to rid myself of you
to become me

so I put your creations in bags,
left them at the curb
for a truck to carry away.

Now your joints swell,
your sewing machine stays covered,
and I have money for dresses.

But I want them back,
those dresses that were born
of your mind and fingers

the black dress
out of style now
but classic

the way black dresses are,
the way we learn about love
too late.

- Irene Latham

This poem can be found in the book POEMS FROM THE BIG TABLE, and it is one I wrote in response to a piece of art by Liz Reed. The poem is close to my heart especially today on the Mother's Day before my mother moves away from me for the very first time (up till now, we have always lived in the same city) and on the first Mother's Day we celebrate without my mother-in-law.

Big Happy Mother's Day to all my mom friends out there! You are amazing!!

"All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his."

~Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, 1895

Friday, May 9, 2008


Woohooo! WHAT CAME BEFORE made the short list for the Independent Publisher awards!! I've been invited to the BookExpo in Los Angeles May 29 for the announcement of the awards. Here's the complete list (in random order) of semi-finalists in the "Poetry" division:

Rhythms, by Leo Shelton (Tugson Press)
Tahirih Unveiled, by Julia Older (Turning Point Press)
Little Rock, 2005, by Edwin E. Smith
Retreats & Recognitions, by Grace Bauer (Lost Horse Press)
What Came Before, by Irene Latham (Negative Capability Press)
The Origin of the Milky Way, by Barbara Louise Ungar (Gival Press)

Congrats to all my fellow finalists! And thanks to you independent publishers out there who value words more than money and put folks like us in print!!


(photo by Otto Pfister)

Remember when I was telling you I was just like the mad bluebird because there's this journal I've been wanting to get published in, like FOREVER, only Editor X hadn't yet found my poems worthy?

Well. This just in: Editor X accepted not one but TWO of my poems for publication! And also wrote me a lovely note praising my work and asking for an autographed copy of my book!

Just goes to show you the key to this writing gig is NEVER GIVE UP. Even when you get really really mad about something that happens along the way.

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'press on' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

- Calvin Coolidge

Thursday, May 8, 2008


How cool is this pic? (Thanks, LTG!)

A couple of years ago I stumbled upon a great program for artists (or anyone) called The Private Eye. It involves looking at the world very closely with a jeweler's loupe. Then you start an inquiry process that is based in analogy: What does it look like? What else? What else? What else?

I use The Private Eye program as much as possible when I do school visits. One second grade class I worked with this year created amazing poems -- wait till you read! I will be posting their creations on my website very soon.

This tree bark looks like sand dunes to me, like hair floating in water, like a fingerprint. I love the way it seems to swirl and move. Imagine what it must be like to be an ant crossing this terrain! There is something about the change of perspective that gives the brain a workout and has the potential to really enhance our writing efforts.

"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart..."

- William Wordsworth

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


You know how some words just feel good when you roll 'em around in your mouth? Ever since finding "plump pea dumplings" on a google ad, I am completely enamored and determined to use the phrase somewhere somehow.

It reminds me of the poem BLACKBERRY EATING by Galway Kinnell that was part of the Poetry in Motion program in New York City back in 1992.

I love this idea of words so savory you can taste them when you say them. I might even make plump pea dumplings for supper one of these days. I also love the idea of poems in public places and wish I had lots of money so I could do something like that in Birmingham.

Ummm... probably I should wait till I am done with this revision before I get started on a new and exciting project. (In the homestretch! Twenty pages or so to go!)

"Flaming enthusiasm, backed up by horse sense and persistence, is the quality that most frequently makes for success."

- Dale Carnegie

Sunday, May 4, 2008


Wanda the Wonder Cow Gives Sixteen Gallons of Milk on Some Days

They’ll start the tour by telling you

this land of milk and ice cream

is a haven for girls. Bull calves?

Who needs ‘em? It’s the heifers

they love, so if you are born

that fortunate gender, you will be

coddled and bottle-fed, brought inside

the kitchen on frosty nights.

And it’s true, they love you

for your easy-going nature,

they put you in a pasture

where you’ve got wide open spaces

and endless blue sky

and can eat grass all day long.

You are encouraged to grow fat

and lazy. The only thing

they ask is that you stand politely

while they hook you to a machine

that will tug and swallow, send

your bodily fluids rushing down

small pipes, then larger pipes,

then into the belly

of the pasteurization machine

that you will never see, because by then,

you will be back out in the pasture

grazing sweet grass, chewing your cud,

strolling with a friend to the water tub.

You are happy to give. You are

not burdened with calf-rearing

or barn-cleaning. Could there be a better life?

Only, eventually you’ll begin to feel

something is missing. You’ll get bored

and start gazing across the fence.

Is this really all there is?

Couldn’t they at least bring a bull

over to play instead of just inserting

an artificial insemination needle?

And the calves – after a hard labor,

would it be so bad to be nuzzled and nursed?

You’ll try to get their attention

by withholding milk,

but they won’t understand.

They’ll just give you a slap

on the rump, tell you not to worry,

send you back out to that damn pasture

with its 500 thousand volts

keeping you in.

- Irene Latham

"There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread."

- Mother Teresa

Saturday, May 3, 2008


Last week on our Saturday night date, my husband picked up THE SUCCESS PRINCIPLES by Jack Canfield (cocreator of Chicken Soup for the Soul series). I kind of chuckled, because how many inspiration books can one buy? But when I looked more closely, I was totally hooked. The format for the book is very user-friendly with lots of short sections and famous quotes (you know I love that!), and it is chock-full of people's real life experiences.

Now you know I am all about going out and making your dreams come true. And this book has got some great tools to help get you "from where you are to where you want to be." Check it out!

"Believe and act as if it were impossible to fail."

- Charles F. Kettering (inventor with over 140 patents and honorary doctorates from nearly 30 universities

Friday, May 2, 2008


Stumbled upon the delightful concept of a six-word memoir at Smith Magazine. Check 'em out - there's some really great ones posted.

Here's mine, for what it's worth:


Now tell me yours. :)

"When in doubt, tell the truth."

- Mark Twain

Thursday, May 1, 2008


Don't you just love the light in this one? Lynn took it last November when we were at Cloudland Canyon State Park in the mountains of Georgia. Thanks, Lynn!

Meanwhile, one of the comments in the margin of my manuscript: "recast - things are always 'catching the light.'" We are what we write, aren't we. :)

"Light is the first of painters. There is no object so foul that intense light will not make it beautiful."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson