Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Michigan Report

Last week Charles and I had such a great time in snowy Michigan! Here's the welcome sign that made us feel... welcome!

Thanks to Charles for braving the weather to take the pictures. And thanks to East Grand Rapids Middle School for sharing the days with us. I loved meeting these eager educators and students! Big thanks to Principal Anthony Morey and teacher-poet Kim Doele for doing all the behind-the-scenes-work... SO much goes into an author visit. I'm always touched to be in the presence of those who are willing to do this work for the kids. That's what it's about. That's why we do this.

Here are a few of the many stand-out moments:

1. Driving down neighborhood streets on snowy pre-dawn days with blue-lit sky and trees arching over Lake Dr... for an Alabama gal, it was magical! I was enchanted by the snow pretty much the entire trip -- until I thought it might interfere with me getting home! Charles was kind enough to brush our car down each (cold!) morning, and now I've got snow-driving experience. :)

One of the many gingerbread houses we passed!

2. Presenting with Charles! After all our hard work creating the presentation, finally, we were able to share it with students. 6 times. In one day.

3. Meeting Gary D. Schmidt. I am a HUGE fan of Gary's work -- and I knew he lived near Grand Rapids. So, imagine my delight when Kim was able to set up a supper for us! We had a great time talking books and words and LIFE at a neat restaurant on (frozen) Lake Reeds called Rose's. Plus Gary signed my copy of OKAY FOR NOW, which happens to be my favorite of his novels.
Irene Latham, Gary D. Schmidt,
Kim Doele, Charles Waters

4. The analogies workshop with students, in which I introduced the Private Eye method using a jeweler's loupe. We wrote poems about the moon and our palms and lions... fun to hear these students' amazing ideas and images.

5. Sharing LEAVING GEE'S BEND with a special group of readers... they asked some really thoughtful questions!

6. The diversity group. Nothing I type here will do justice to our discussion with these students! So many good hearts, so many amazing poems! I was filled with hope after all the sharing in that room. We will be posting responses to our CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR? Gallery very soon!
In the sharing circle...

student with "Talking Stick" reading
her poem while we all listened.
7. Presenting with Charles in front of the 811 (poetry!) section at the Wealthy Elementary Library. So many good titles!! And what great kids... I will introduce you to a special student tomorrow. :)

8. Being interviewed by the Wealthy Elementary video team... and doing The Yarn with Charles and Travis Jonker! Air date to be determined, but should be in the next month or two.

Young journalists!
9. Sharing boots (!) and rainbow shoelaces with one very loving and enthusiastic educator at Wealthy Elementary. #Startaconversation

10. Coming home full of poetry and light and happiness and gratitude! Even though Friday ended up being a snow day, my flights still went out as scheduled... and Charles and I were able to write across the table from one another, instead of across the country! :) To everyone who had a hand in this one... THANK YOU. I am here fairy-clapping. xo

Irene Latham, Kim Doele, Charles Waters


  1. Yay! Thanks for sharing this! It looks so wonderful. Wish you guys were coming to my school!

  2. Looks like a terrific trip! Thanks for the snapshots of it :-)

  3. It was so much fun to read this post, Irene. I almost feel like I was there with you and Charles. How wonderful that you got to meet Gary Schmidt. And I cannot wait to hear you both on the Yarn!!

  4. The Latham/Waters Poetic Express is off and running!

  5. Snowy photos, showy prompts, loving sharing - so much nourishment.
    The kids will always remember you two & how great you made them feel,
    how you listened to them think. Brava.


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