Friday, April 28, 2017

ARTSPEAK! Portraits poem "Sun & Moon"

Hello and welcome to day 28 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. 
Also: Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit JoAnn at Teaching Authors for Roundup.
I've got school visits today in Florence, Alabama, in conjunction with the inaugural Reader Riot Book Festival! Fun.

Can you believe we are almost done with our Progressive Poem? Be sure to check in with the oh so talnted Michelle Kogan to read the latest.

And now, here are the ARTSPEAK! Portraits poems so far:

27. "Weather Report" after Self-Portrait 1923 by Abraham Angel
26. "The Way You Look at Me" after Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer
25. "Gratitude" after Tahitian Woman's Head by Paul Gaugin
24. "The Postman in Spring" after Portrait of the Postman Joseph Roulin, April 1888 by Vincent van Gogh
23. "Dark the Day" after Little Dutch Girl by Robert Henri
22. "Tiger" after Tiger by Hwang Jong-ha
21. "Self-Portrait as a Painter" after Self-Portrait as a Painter by Vincent van Gogh
20. "What to Do in the Desert" after Nubian Girl by Ervand Demirdjian
19. "In Summer" after In Summer by Auguste-Pierre Renoir
18. "Night" after The Outlier by Frederic Sackrider Remington
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 that lives at our very own Birmingham Museum of Art! And, it's especially special to me because it also looks very much like our son Andrew did when he was young. (see pic below!) We have often visited this portrait of him at the BMA. Here's what "The Laughing Boy" would like you to know:

Sun and Moon
- after “The Laughing Boy” by Robert Henri

Mama says
I am her sunshine,
and my brother
is her moon.
So I do my best
to make her laugh –
especially in
the afternoon.
That's when
my brother gets
and weariness
clouds Mama's eyes.
Look at this, I say,
and make a face.
I tell some silly jokes.
Our laughter
lifts into the air
like a pair of
of dancing kites.
     It's true
I am my mama's
But I am also
my brother's 
Northern Lights.

- Irene Latham
Andrew - age 4
Readers, this poem is sort-of inspired by real life. I have always called Andrew my sunshine, and his older brother Daniel my moon. (Younger son Eric is my Earth. :) But the dynamics portrayed in this poem? Nope, completely fictional! Our boys were pretty competitive as youngsters and have only recently grown to love one another. But Jopie van Slouten, the boy in the portrait? He has his own story. :) Thanks so much for reading! 



  1. Love the pic of your sunshine. What a charmer! A house filled with sunshine, the moon, and the earth. No wonder you write poetry!

  2. Oh my, your sunshine does resemble the portrait! I love how the speaker in your poem wants to help his mama by making her laugh.

  3. Oh my! Just look at that resemblance! How much do I love that you call your sons your sun, moon, and earth, Irene? To the milky way and back, that's how much. It's wonderful how you used your own life as a jumping point, but then gave this boy his own precious story.

  4. Oh, give me goosebumps. I have four children and I call them my compass points as they are all so different...polar opposites in four ways. And yet, I follow each of them. Irene, I have learned so much from you this month. I sincerely hope to meet you in person someday. Watch out, I'm a hugger!

  5. So moving, Irene, to read the tribute to your boys intertwined with your interpretation of the painting. Your son's photo and the boy in the painting aren't dissimilar. Love this poetic glimpse of your mama's heart.

  6. You are so right - those two sparkling sunshines look so much alike! Your poem is wonderful - and I really like how it does that gentle shift at the end, to be the northern lights.

  7. What a charming poem making that red-cheeked boy come alive. I've never thought of my two boys as sun or moon. My daughter is our sky, sometimes sun, sometimes rain. But my boys are like lion and bear, sometimes stuffed and sometimes electric.


Your thoughts?