Thursday, April 27, 2017

ARTSPEAK! Portraits poem "Weather Report"

Hello and welcome to day 27 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. I gotta say: I'm getting a little giddy here at the end of the month! Also, I am traveling today to Florence, Alabama, for school visits and the inaugural Reader Riot Book Festival! I love Florence. More on that soon!

But first: Be sure to check in with Matt at Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme to see how our Progressive Poem is progressing! Hard to believe we're almost at at the end!

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

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's poem is another (the last!) self-portrait. I didn't know anything about Abraham Angel before I selected the painting... his story is tragic.  Here's what he'd like for you to know:

Weather Report
- after “Self Portrait 1923” by Abraham Angel

This city cracks
me            open
like parched

Would you
have me    pray
for la lluvia
or la sombrilla?

All I want
is to hold
your         hand.

- Irene Latham
This is the second time this month I've used weather as a theme! Poem #9 is titled "Speaking of the Weather."

As with my Frida Kahlo-inspired poem "Virginia, Sitting for a Portrait" from earlier in the month, I wanted to be sure and incorporate some Spanish words. Again, I leaned on Google. And I had a little lesson in what translators must go through: there were two choices for umbrella: el paraguas and la sombrilla. I chose la sombrilla because it sounded better with la lluvia (which means "rain.") 

So much of poetry is about sound! Which is part of what makes recording these poems on SoundCloud as much a learning experience as anything. I find that I often make revisions after I hear myself stumble or stutter or, often, say a completely different word!

Anyhow, I chose not to incorporate the English meaning into the poem. I'm hoping there are enough other clues to make the poem comprehensible without an in-poem translation. What do YOU think?


  1. It is a sad story, and he was so brave in that time, wow. The passion comes through in your poem, Irene. "All I want. . ."

  2. I guessed at the meaning of lluvia and was right. I didn't know la sombrilla but love your explanation of why you chose it. I like the connection of umbrella to sombrero. And the learning that comes everyday with your portraits and posts.

  3. Lovely, though sad poem, and so succinctly said, thanks Irene. It's unfortunate he led such a short life, with all his talents. His art reminds me of Frida Kahlo, thanks for all Irene!


Your thoughts?