Saturday, May 30, 2015

#EveryBrilliantThing May Roundup

This year I am keeping a virtual gratitude list, inspired by the play Every Brilliant ThingHere's my post about it. 

And here's my list for May:

“Hooray, it's May!”
Airport reunions.
Kentucky Derby.
Paper clips.
“Scars prove that you're still here.” - @ashparso STILL WATERS.
Baby ducks.
Andrew giving me a birthday cake shake from Zaxby's for Mother's Day.
Sunday night suppers at Chuy's with Eric.
Banana pancakes with cinnamon and sugar on top.
Andrew doing his own laundry.
Maggie our cat giving herself a bath.
Cookie cake.
Papa's binder where he lists all the books he's read.
People who are passionate about what they do.
Boys in tuxedos.
Don Draper's new idea. #MadMen
Typing “THE END” on the first draft of a novel.
She-crab soup.
Spanish moss.
Live music on the pier.
Road-tripping with Paul.
My own bed.
Quilts on a clothesline.
The color aqua.
Thrift stores.
Having an imaginary friend.
Hay rides.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Ten-Second Rainshowers: Poems by Young People compiled by Sandford Lyne

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

While husband and I vacationed at Georgia's Golden Isles, we visited several thrift shops on St. Simon's Island. At one of them I picked up TEN-SECOND RAINSHOWERS: Poems by Young People compiled by Sandford Lyne, illustrations by Virginia Halstead. It's an oldie - published back in 1996. But, oh, my, what treasures! The book is divided into 6 sections and includes poems from 130 students, ages 8-18. Here's a sampling (warning: at least one of these will break your heart):


The whole class is talking
There's nothing to do
I guess I will sit here and

- Adam Cooke, grade 3


I walked through the empty kitchen
to the door,
to leave the warmth of home
for the bitter-cold anxiety of
a Monday at school.
Ducking the old dogwood outside,
I heard a familiar call,
and turned to see my mother
waving me off to school,
sending me a small fire
to keep my heart a little warmer.

-Richard Furst, Grade 10

When My Mom Died

When my mom died
I was like the winter
With only a young pine growing
Just the pine and a stump of a great poem

-James Powell, grade 8


The cow lay basking in the sun
as nearby flowers swayed.
A mouse scuttled by
in search of a little something to eat.
Each spoke to the field
without saying a word.

-Ivana Perkinson, grade 8


The creek is my friend
it talks to me by
falling over the rocks,
but the sun also
likes my friend
and likes to take
him in the sky

- Scott Denson, grade 7

Who Am I?

I am like a gate
without a name.
I am like stars making something.
I wish
I could be like other children,
but I am just a dud.
I want to be
like horses that have names.

-Jacob Mayes, grade 4

I Saw Myself

I think I am in love
For I am drawing violets.
I feel this joy within my soul.
And yesterday I saw myself in the river
And for the first time
I smiled.

- Karen Navarez, grade 4

A Boat of Blue

I will hop in a boat of blue
And drive through the marsh.
The cool breeze will gently brush
  against my face.
My thoughts will be like honey
  on biscuits,
And jam on toast.
Except for the little vroom of the motor,
There will be silence.
It will be summer,
when horseflies bite your toes.
I will be the king of my quiet place.

- Glenn Hoffman, grade 5

On the Road to God

On the road to God I see a cow from
  the pasture.
There's a willow tree on the road to God.
There's a gentle shower on the road
  to God.
It feels like summer on the road to God.

- Laura Novello, grade 3

** Should the author or any of the poets included here happen to find this post, I would be delighted to hear from you! (Wouldn't it be fun to update readers on where these poets are 20 years later?!)  irene (at) irenelatham (dot) com

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Every 25 Years

Early morning, the Atlantic, from Jekyll Island
25 years ago Paul and I took our very first trip together to Jekyll Island, Georgia. Before we went, his older sister told him that traveling together was a good test -- if we did well, we might last. If we didn't -- well, maybe we shouldn't.

That first trip was pretty magical with good food, walks on the beach, and music on the pier. We loved it, and we loved each other, and within a year we were married.

So many times since then we've said we should go back to Jekyll. But there's always been some other trip to go on, some other shore to explore. So a couple of years ago we made a commitment: we'll go back to celebrate our 25th anniversary.

And we did. And it was every bit as magical as the first time! Maybe more so, because we got to tell everyone we met that we were back after 25 years. Such a sweet, sweet trip. Such a sweet, sweet man.

Here we are in 1990 at the St. Simon's lighthouse:

And here we are in 2015 at the St. Simon's lighthouse:

We've decided we're going back again in 25 years. :)

Friday, May 22, 2015

OVER THE HILLS AND FAR AWAY: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes collected by Elizabeth Hammill

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

I'm excited to share with you a gorgeous book that I am completely enamored of: OVER THE HILLS AND FAR AWAY. It's "A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes" which may not seem all that fresh or exciting -- until you realize the book is illustrated by "more than 70 celebrated artists."

That's right: 70 different artists! And oh, my, even without the words, this book would be a stunner. As a lover of illustrated children's books, I get a little breathless looking at all these many styles of art all in one book. Seriously, it's gorgeous. And the text has its own freshness: these are not just Mother Goose American/English nursery rhymes. There are all sorts of cultures represented here, which makes this book, for me, a must-have. Please, please take a look. So enchanting! Betsy Bird thinks so, too!

And just to give you a little flavor of the text, I'm excited to share with you  just a few poems:

How shall I begin my song
In the blue night that is settling:
I will sit here and begin my song.

-Tohono O'odham

We keep a dog to watch the house,
A pig is useful, too;
We keep a cat to catch a mouse,
But what can we do
With a girl like you?

-Chinese American

Put your hands on your hips,
Let your backbone shake,
Shake it to the East,
Shake it to the West,
Shake it to the very one that
you love the best.

-Caribbean clapping rhyme
(This one is so joyously illustrated by Ashley Bryan, that I can't not mention it.)

A riddle, a riddle, as I suppose,
A hundred eyes, and never a nose.

-English (answer to the riddle: a potato!)

Bed is too small for my tiredness.
Give me a hilltop with trees;
Tuck a cloud up under my chin.
Lord, blow out the moon - please.

Rock me to sleep in a cradle of dreams.
Sing me a lullaby of leaves;
Tuck a cloud up under my chin.
Lord, blow out the moon - please.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

O, Sweet Voiced May!

May has been a lovely month so far, full of all kinds of special events. Here's a sampling!

Here I am reading at the Clubhouse on Highland as part of InSpero's Magic City Storytellers event. I was one of several amazing artists, and I shared 5 poems, including "Self-Portrait as a Country Road," which I wrote last month as part of my ARTSPEAK! project. One thing I loved about this event was the inclusion of music. Maybe one of these days I will be good enough at the cello to bring it on stage with me. :) Big thanks to Charlie Ritch for inviting me to participate in this lovely, inspiring evening. And thanks to son Eric for snapping this shot. 

This is a picture from an SCBWI Schmooze about "Sailing the Self-Publishing Boat" led by a former "Rosie" Dr. Frances Tunnel Carter (who also founded the American Rosie the Riveter Association) and her daughter Nell Branum. What a nice turnout we had!

Here I am with some enthusiastic readers in Mrs. Beavers class at Inverness Elementary School. Mrs. Beavers and Mrs. Price read LEAVING GEE'S BEND with their students every year and invite me to come talk with their students about Ludelphia and my experiences as a writer. What a great group!

This is a picture of some of my favorite fellas! They are all dressed up to perform at ASFA's graduation ceremonies at The Alabama Theater. In just 3 years, we'll be watching THESE guys graduate. Wow!

...more of my favorite fellas! We were thrilled to have Papa visit for a few days on his way to Florida. Here is is with Eric and Andrew. We spent our time sharing stories and sharing meals and enjoying one another. Papa and I also had a very productive trip to the Hoover Library bookstore where he stocked up on favorite authors for a buck a book!

Here I am with authors Roger Reid and Claire Datnow at the Green Ribbon Schools annual picnic. Congratulations to this year's winners: Auburn University, Lincoln Elementary, Lincoln High, and Bluff Park Elementary! This is one of my favorite events all year -- I love hanging out with educators who go above and beyond... especially when we share a passion for environmental preservation. I had fun sharing with them about my current and forthcoming books!

I also had the great privilege to Skype with some of Mary Lee Hahn's students who had read LEAVING GEE'S BEND. They had such great questions, and were so engaged and engaging! But the thing that struck me most was their obvious love for their teacher. Who doesn't love Mary Lee?! (Lucky kids!)
Finally I want to share with you a pic of Andrew who is newly graduated from high school! Woohoo! He's posing here on the floor with the t-shirt quilt I made for him out of his high school t-shirts. He loved the quilt, which was a thrill for me. (Those of you who enjoy gifting original crafts/quilt/art, you know how special it is when the item gifted seems to really be appreciated. Priceless!)

What May adventures have you enjoyed? I'd love to hear about them!

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Poetry of Pictures (all the way from Africa!)

Hello, and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit the amazing Diane at Random Noodling for Roundup!

Things are hopping around these parts... our middle son Andrew is graduating from high school this week, my father is here, and I am working every day on a novel-in-progress! All good stuff, but it means less time here at the blog.

So, I offer you something poetry-related that has brought me a great deal of joy this week:

I love telling readers about how DEAR WANDERING WILDEBEEST was inspired by online pics taken by wildlife photographer Greg du Toit. And now I have a gorgeous coffee table book to enjoy every day! Thank you, Greg!

Get your very own copy! SO GORGEOUS. I may have to write a whole new set of poems now. :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wild Wednesday

It's still Wednesday, isn't it?? Thanks to April Halprin Wayland for this quote that's perfect for my "wild" year!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Poem for a Stepmother

When I learned John James Audubon's passion for nature was nurtured by his stepmother, I knew I needed to write a poem about it. This poem appears in my book THE COLOR OF LOST ROOMS, and I dedicate it to all the wonderful stepmothers in the world.

Thank you for reading --Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 8, 2015

CHANGES: A Child's First Poetry Collection by Charlotte Zolotow

Hello, and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Today's Little Ditty to see what goodies Michelle has to share for Roundup!

I'm happy to share with you today some poems from CHANGES: A Child's First Poetry Collection by Charlotte Zolotow, illus. by Tiphanie Beeke. The book includes an introduction by the author's daughter Crescent Dragonwagon (a name she explains she chose for herself later in life), and it's divided into four sections, one for each season.

My favorite poem is the shortest poem in the book and can be found in the "Spring" section:


Little crocus
like a cup,
holding all that sunlight up!

My favorite in the "Summer" section is this one:

The Bridge

Glittering bridge,
curved like a harp
with your necklace of sparkling lights,
how you shine through the dark
of these silent summer nights!

in the "Autumn" section, I liked this one:

The Leaves

The world is weeping leaves today
golden, crimson, brown,
drifting slowly down.

Lovely autumn, please do stay
here in this little town!

The world is weeping leaves today,
golden, crimson, brown.

and finally, with an echo of the earlier "Crocus" poem, here's my favorite "Winter" poem:


In this spot
covered now by snow,
tangled branch and twig,
in this spot where the ice edges
and the ground is frozen
and the birds peck at bread,
in this spot
there will be
crocuses blooming
yellow and white,
holding petaled cups
of sun,
if only
spring would


Monday, May 4, 2015

This Is What You Shall Do

These beautiful words popped up in my life this past weekend at Brad Walker pottery studio, and I felt so nourished by them that I wanted to share them with all of you!

Friday, May 1, 2015

ARTSPEAK! in Review, #EveryBrilliantThing Roundup, & a Special Thank You

Hello, and Happy first Poetry Friday after the storm that was 2015 National Poetry Month! Be sure to visit Ellen at Space City Scribes for Roundup.

I am traveling today but I did want to leave all of you with a special message!

First of all: to everyone who made the 2015 Progressive Poem a wonderful adventure:

When we started out with that alluvium, I never could have anticipated where we would end up! It's our longest Progressive Poem ever! What an adventure. So much fun to share it with all of you!! 

I will be parking our poem in its entirety with links on the Progressive Poem page just as soon as I can. For now, view it in completion at  Matt's Radio, Rhythm & RhymeAnd for those who've been asking about participating next year, I will post a signup at my blog the first Poetry Friday of March 2016. First come, first served. Mark your calendars!

And now for another THANK YOU: To everyone who stopped by to read my ARTSPEAK! poems... wow! I couldn't have done it without your encouragement. Thank you thank you!
Some stats:

Of the 30 poems, a whopping 22 were in the voice of inanimate objects. 5 were voiced by animals, and 3 by humans.
Water/boats was a popular theme among the art I selected -- it appears in 9 out of the 30.

Waiting is a theme that emerged in about a third of the poems. Don't you love how poetry teaches us about ourselves?

Only 4 poems shared the title of the painting: Rowing Scene, Sewing Chair, The Dance Lesson, and The Music Lesson.

This project generated a 45 page file -- 30 pages of poems and 15 pages of scratch. (I do the vast majority of my writing on the computer... occasionally, if I have to leave my desk, I will print my progress so far, and carry that page with me to scribble on as I work things out. I much MUCH prefer composing on a computer! I really like a neat, clean workspace -- I get distracted by clutter. I also love the instant gratification of changes, and how that prompts other ideas and directions.) 

This one might be my favorite: "Still Live with Straw Hat, Bag and Umbrella."

If you had a favorite, I would love to know what it was! This will help me as I move forward to create a manuscript for a possible ARTSPEAK! book! Thank you!!

This year I am keeping a virtual gratitude list, inspired by the play Every Brilliant Thing. Here's my post about it. And here's my April list:

Walking the neighborhood in the early morning dark.
Azaleas in bloom.
Polka-dots. Especially Eric in polka-dots.
Fried oysters.
That bird outside my window singing so happily in the dark.
When I set a goal for 5 pages and end up with 7 instead.
Morning drive with @bensollee.
Wisdom at morning @jazzerciseinc : “If you can't hide it, decorate it.”
New plants in old pots.
The way Ruby barks at thunder.
Fortune cookies.
Tree art.
Tree Change Dolls.
Breakfast with Papa.
LISTEN, SLOWLY by Thanhha Lai.
Art by @brianandreas.
Mints at Olive Garden.
Friends who say just the right thing. Looking at you, @mattarnett!
Writing in the parking lot.
Those jar grip thingies.
Patio dining.
Metal dresses by Chris Beck at Magic City Art Connection.
That scene when Forrest Gump just stops running.
Restaurant in Atlanta overlooking Oakland Cemetery named Six Feet Under.
Books on hold for me at the library, including THE HONEST TRUTH by Dan Gemeinhart.
Hot tea on a rainy morning.