Thursday, November 14, 2013


Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to check in with Jama to see what deliciousness she's dishing up for Roundup at Jama's Alphabet Soup!

I am thrilled to share with you today my newest book love: VIEWS FROM A WINDOW SEAT by our very own Jeannine Atkins!

I LOVE THIS BOOK. Jeannine's voice is so beautiful and resonant, and there is so much wisdom packed in these pages.

For our purposes today I am sharing some bits that relate to the poetic life, but please know that this book spans several genres (picture books! historical fiction! novels) and is as much about being a human in this world as it is about being a writer. There's love and pain and fear and loss and always, always hope and beauty. And the book is divided into the seasons, which act as wonderful metaphors for the writing life. The essays are accessible and wise, and you can read them as you see fit.

Writers, READ THIS BOOK. You will feel nurtured and more courageous as you venture forth into whatever comes next on your particular path. Also, Jeannine is one of the loveliest people on the planet, both on the page and in person. You have so much to look forward to!

Straight from the pages, in no particular order:

I wish writing poetry were more like baking.

We work in a field with no finish lines so we make our best guesses as to when to let a poem rest, then come back with fresh eyes. If the poem can surprise me, or if I sense that the words were already tossed and shaken, that's a good sign.

Words should follow each other in clear ways, but leave some sense of an imperfect hand doing the arranging and room for readers to do their own shuffling.

We may say “I remember” with a swagger, but if we're truthful, much of what we claim is faint or broken. Which is all right. We can find a lot even on dim paths.

Not every mystery will be solved, but wondering may connect us as much as answers.

Sometimes we have to be the well rather than just worry about filling it.

Ideas may fall as quietly as feathers or clatter like a teacup on a saucer.

Sometimes just stopping is the best way to end.

The world is inspiration, and art is not a mirror.

We are who we are, and it shows up on our pages.

Here is where I am: green grass, yellow and black bees, white blossoms. My not-great-but-could-be-worse back on the wicker chair.

The unknown can hold more wisdom that what seems certain.

I work line by line, reeling in vagueness, trying to put small gifts in every one. A word that glimmers, a shock in the rhythm, the smack of two clashing things coming together.

My aim is to invite readers to make their own interpretations, leaving them guessing, but not deeply puzzled or lost.

There's illness and too much snow, but also friendship and somewhere singing, and another cardinal at the bird feeder.

Really the only rule is to pay attention.  
And now, a word from Jeannine! 

IL: "What surprised you about self-publishing?"

JA:  Thanks for asking about what surprised me. It was fun working on design and craft sorts of things, and satisfying to look at my book the way I have at scarf or two I’ve knitted, or the African violets I’ve coaxed into flourishing, or banana bread that’s just the right shade of golden brown.  Here was something I had made from inside to out. Not perfect, but I felt proud.

Another surprise was that the day my book became available, I found
myself less worried than I had when books came out that other people
had argued for or over, edited, chosen covers for, or made up cost and
balance sheets. Would we sell enough? Does anyone, ever? Now remarks,
reviews, and sales accounts come straight to me. I get to be in my own
self, which, thank goodness, is only partly a sales rep. And thanks to
print-on-demand, I don’t have to worry about stored boxes of books
either. The book can take its own pace into the world.


Okay. You want a copy, don't you. Not just for yourself, but for your writing friend who is struggling with revisions or beginnings or the muddly middle. You can purchase the book .... and.... if you'll leave a comment below for Jeannine by midnight CST Saturday, November 16, you will be eligible to win a copy! Good luck!! And thank you, Jeannine, for writing (and publishing!) this lovely book. xo


  1. (Waving hand wildly) Me! Me! Me! I want this book! ;0) I'm sighing over these incredible tidbits here, and a few at Jama's today.
    Congratulations, Jeannine, and thanks, Irene, for sharing!

  2. Swoon! I of course share your big love Jeannine's book. Thanks for sharing all those wonderful quotes!

  3. Pushing and shoving everyone out of the way! That book is supposed to be mine, mine, mine!!!

  4. I took a workshop on setting with Jeannine at the NESCBWI conference. Her workshop helped me think more deeply about my WIP. I'm still not quite able to fully articulate how it helped me, but different snippets of guidance/suggestions still drift through my mind when I'm writing.

  5. Irene, thanks so much for your heartfelt words, here and always. And thanks to enthusiastic commenters, with a special smile at bad-mannered Dori!

  6. I already have my own copy but would love another for a gift-actually I'm thinking the book will make a marvelous present for each of my writers group colleagues! I'm taking my time, it really is a book to savor a bite here and one there! I love the quotes, Irene, "I work line by line, reeling in vagueness, trying to put small gifts in every one. A word that glimmers, a shock in the rhythm, the smack of two clashing things coming together." Thank you both for an inspiring post!

  7. I love how each of Jeannine's words and phrases must be savored. This is not one for skim reading-- I'm in it for the long haul. And just for the record, winning this book would be *really* nice, though I will be getting myself a copy regardless... and likely more than one so that I can share with all my writer friends.

    1. Dear Michelle - My son assigned numbers, and my other son chose a number, and long story short: you won Jeannine's book!!! Please send me your address to irene at irenelatham dot com!

  8. I'm going to be pondering, "Sometimes we have to be the well rather than just worry about filling it." And I love the image of clattering ideas!
    I bought myself a copy this morning. How could I not?

  9. I won't knock Robyn Hood Black down to shout "me, me, me too!" louder than she can (you know how quiet haiku writers can be) but can I put my name in the hat to win a copy of what looks to be a great book. My poetry is evolving and changing--I can feel it--and I'd love to have the book to hold my hand and to hold in my hand.

  10. Irene, your excerpts are just the best advertisement for a book that already has its hand patiently in the air knowing it will be chosen by many. Wonderful. Please put my name in the hat, and thank you, Jeannine!

  11. Oh, Jeannine, how many times I've said to myself, "I'm buying this book NOW," and got distracted, or realized I need to transfer $$ to my spending account. Well, I transferred money earlier this evening, the distracting hub is napping, and Irene's post has whetted my appetite beyond what your talent and wisdom has already done. So I'm off to buy it now. And if I win a copy, I'll pass it on (Maybe to Doraine if she promises to stop shoving me.)

  12. Irene, thanks for sharing this book. Your excerpts make me want this book!

  13. I am grateful for the interlude of finding my way to this page this afternoon (the spacing of Jeannine's web address on the NE SCBWI page led me first to the Atkins Diet!). I am happy she decided to self-publish; these excerpts are at once soothing and inspiring!
    I especially like, "Ideas may fall as quietly as feathers or clatter like a teacup on a saucer."

  14. Irene, thank you again for your lovely welcome to my book. And thanks to everyone for such great and various enthusiasm. Janet, I promise reading this book if more fun than the Atkins diet -- glad you found your way to the right spot!

  15. Too bad I missed your deadline for the giveaway! This sounds like nourishment for the tired soul indeed. Beautiful! Congratulations, Jeannine! And thank you Irene for sharing it with us. I loved these lines most of all:
    "If the poem can surprise me, or if I sense that the words were already tossed and shaken, that's a good sign."
    I love it. :)

  16. Ugh. I missed the Saturday deadline but I have to get this book.


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