Tuesday, April 18, 2017

ARTSPEAK! Portraits poem "Night"

Hello and welcome to day 18 of  ARTSPEAK! Portraits, my 2017 National Poetry Month poem-a-day project, during which I am looking, listening with my spirit ear, and asking these subject to share with me their secrets.

But first: Be sure to check in with Buffy at Buffy's Blog to see how our Progressive Poem is progressing!

Here are the ARTSPEAK! Portraits poems so far:

17. "Boy Blowing Bubbles" after The Bubble Boy by Paul Peel
16. "Morning" after Buki Rinsen by Tsuchida Bakusen
15. "When Papa Paints" after Portrait of Anne by George Wesley Bellows
14. "Whistler's Mother" after Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 1 by James McNeill Whistler
13. "In the Company of Kittens" after Contentment 1900 by Henriette Ronner-Knip
12. "Sixteen" after Jeanne Hubuturne-1919 by Amedeo Modigliani
11. "Promise" after Portrait of a Little Italian Girl by Maria Kroyer
10. "Portrait of a Writer" after Oskar Maria Graf by Georg Schrimpf
9. "Speaking of the Weather" after Profile of a Woman by Fujishima Takeji
8. "Happiness" after Self-Portrait with Straw Hat by Elisabeth Vigee le Brun
7. "Virginia, Sitting for a Portrait" after Portrait of Virginia (Little Girl) by Frida Kahlo
6. "Paint-by-Number" after Portrait of a Woman by Alexei von Jawlensky
4. "I Am" after The White Cloud, Head Chief of the Iowas by George Catlin
3. "What If?" after Portrait of Camille Roulin by Vincent van Gogh
2. "The Lady Confesses" after Portrait of a Lady with Mask and Cherries by Benjamin Wilson
1. "Mona Lisa in Love" after Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci

Today I have a piece for you that is both a departure, and a return. It's not a close-up portrait, as has characterized this series so far. But it's subject brings us back to poem #4 "I Am," which also features a First Nations man. Here's what he said to me:

-after “The Outlier” by Frederick Sackrider Remington

You think I'm alone,
that I will fade
into darkness.
But I am joined
by this steady mount,
this cold steel
across my thighs.
I know every river.
From this grassy hill
I can see the beast's
teeth, I can feel its
August breath.
What else would
you take from me,
the moon?

- Irene Latham

Readers, I waffled on the title of this one. I couldn't decided between "The Outlier" or "Night." I ultimately chose "Night" because I think it adds another layer of meaning to the poem. Plus, Sunday's poem was titled "Morning." :) For more information about the artwork, click through to the Brooklyn Museum, where this painting is on view.



  1. Irene, your poem is poignant and defiant at the same time, "What else. . ."

  2. What a powerful poem! It deserves a place beside the artwork,

  3. Those last three lines gave me the absolute shivers. Some people would take the moon if they could. We must resist and read poems like this one. We must stay human. xx

  4. August breath....what else would you take from me? Those words pack so much punch. I love the steel in this portrait. The subject is made of it. I just know it.
    I got back to school from spring break to a BEAUTIFUL poetry postcard. Thank you!


Your thoughts?