Thursday, March 29, 2018

Announcing my 2018 ARTSPEAK! Theme (and Some Other Stuff, Too!)

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday on this the eve of National Poetry Month! Be sure to visit Heidi at my juicy little universe for Roundup, where you can learn some interesting things about our Progressive Poem tradition! I'm excited to read Liz's first line Sunday! (Yes, it will be a surprise to me as well!)

I know so many of you have celebratory things planned for the month... I'm so grateful for Jama's roundup post of National Poetry Month happenings!

Here I'll be continuing my ARTSPEAK! tradition of writing poems inspired by art. The fancy word for this is "ekphrasis" or "ekphrastic" poems, but I do NOT like the way that word tastes AT ALL! So 'round here, I'll just call them "art poems." :)

I mentioned in this post how I've been inspired by ONE LITTLE WORD by Nikki Grimes. No, I haven't written a single Golden Shovel poem. But reading that book totally made me want to learn about art from the Harlem Renaissance! I realized I knew something about the musicians and poets/writers from that time, but nothing about a single visual artist. And so, in order to remedy that, I give you.... ARTSPEAK! Harlem Renaissance.

The cover image is "Lift Up Thy Voice and Sing" by William H. Johnson. Don't you love it? I've selected works by Aaron Douglas, Meta Warrick Fuller, Palmer Hayden, William H. Johnson, Archibald Motley and James Van Der Zee. I'll be learning more about these artists as I go, and about art's place in the Harlem Renaissance as well. My goal is to create poems that embody the spirit of the Harlem Renaissance: creativity, reawakening, change, vitality, unity, dreams... I'm excited to find out what these pieces of art will say to me.


On the topic of art poems, I am also excited to share with you WORLD MAKE WAY: New Poems Inspired by Art from The Metropolitan Museum of Art edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins, brought to us by Abrams. I am in love with this book! And not just because I have a poem in it. :) The words and art are breathtaking... I sent a note right away to Lee to tell him this is a book I will read and read again... truly the mark of a good book. It really deserves its own post, but I won't be able to during April, so I will leave you with a look at my contribution. Please do find this book! It's gorgeous!

Painted Plaster Pavement Fragment,
ca. 1390-1353 BC, Anonymous

This Is the Hour

This is the hour
the sun dreams,
and the river 
its silky song.

This is the hour
Duck wades 
into the warm,
whispery grass
to settle
onto its nest.

This is the hour
Duck asks: 
     What is yours?
     What is 

River answers:

     Look how 
     your wings 

     How my eyes 

Yes, Duck says.

     Now I see –
     this is the hour
     almighty sun 
     gives itself

     to everything.

- Irene Latham
And now, to make this the longest post EVER, allow me to share with you some of my April events! I've got a few school and Skype visits that are private, and here are the open-to-the-public happenings:
April 9 (Twitter)

April 11-12 (Hattiesburg, MS)
(presenting on diversity with Leah Henderson)

April 14 (Tallahassee, FL)

April 21 (New York City)
(with Charles Waters, Selina Alko and Sean Qualls)

April 21 (New York City)
Please let me know if you are able to join me for any of these things -- would love to see you! Wishing all the most glorious April ever! Can't wait to read everyone's offerings. xo

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Baby Names, Character Names, My Name and ALMA

I've been thinking more about my name -- see my last post about meeting another (younger!) Irene and an earlier (2010!) post about learning to love my name.

We can learn a lot about a person by their nicknames. My father's favorite nickname for me was "Harriet." He also called me "Honey" and "Sugar Girl" quite often. But he used those for other people, too -- only Harriet was all mine. I don't know why or where or what. It never mattered. I WAS Harriet.

Somewhere along the line my brother Ken called me Reniebob. It stuck. Sometimes it gets shortened to Renie. Even Paul calls me Renie!

Irene "The Boss" t-shirt
in its current life as a quilt
The women in my family dubbed me The Boss. (My mom even made me a t-shirt once with "The Boss" monogrammed on the pocket.) I'm generally the organizer and instigator. I get things done! And I *might* have been a bit of a bossy big sister... I do have memories of playing house with my sister Lynn and insisting that she be the father, because of course I HAD to be the mother. Lucky for me Lynn was always pretty flexible and agreeable. (Still is.)

I wrote a poem recently about my name, in the voice of 5th-grade me (just like in the book CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR?) Here it is:


When I tell Dennis
I'm named for my
great grandmother,
he giggles. Sounds 
like an old-lady name.

I shrink a little
inside, even though
I've always
liked my name –

especially when Papa
tells me stories
about how that Irene
never said a bad thing
about anyone.

I don't think I can
possibly live up to that,
but I want to try.

So I push back my shoulders,
look Dennis in the eye,
and tell him the other
thing I know about my name.
Actually, Irene is the Greek 
goddess of Peace.

And, by the way,
old ladies are cool.
I'm going to be one


- Irene Latham

And then I received in the mail from the publisher a beautiful book ALMA AND HOW SHE GOT HER NAME by Juana Martinez-Neal (Candlewick). This is Juana's debut as an author-illustrator, but her illustration work has been well awarded! This book, too, has gotten a number of starred reviews already, and it's easy to see why.

Little Alma has six names (!), and she wants to know where they all come from. So her daddy introduces her to the people for whom she's been named. The book is wonderfully affirming and also leaves the reader with these questions: What is the story of your name? What story would you like it to tell?

The above poem is part of my answer. As for the story I'd like it to tell.... well, I think every book I write is the answer to that question! As is this blog... I hope the story "Irene" tells is this: "she lives her poem."

What about you, your name, your story?

Monday, March 26, 2018

It's Not Every Day I Meet Another Irene

assembly with 6th graders
at Springville Middle  School
Last week it was my great pleasure to spend some time in Springville, Alabama -- which is a mere 15 minutes from my new home! I sure didn't know when we scheduled the visit that I would be living so close by the time the visit came around. And it was such a great day! 

sharing my Ludelphia doll
with some great guys!
at the library with one of the classes
Thanks to the mad organizational skills of Jamie Twente, director of Springville Public Library who (along with lovelies Sarah and Ann!) coordinated with Springville Middle School, all the 6th graders read my book LEAVING GEE'S BEND before the visit. Isn't that fabulous?! It makes SUCH a difference in the quality and impact of the visit. 
We began the day with an assembly at the school first thing in the morning. The rest of the day was spent just a few blocks away at the library, as one by one, the classes came in for a Q&A session. The kids were so sweet and asked such great questions! 

This was a walking field trip for students that also included a stop at a quilt exhibit on the adult side of the library as well as a visit to the local historical museum. (I haven't checked it out yet, but I will!) What a sweet little town filled with sweet people! I'm so grateful for this opportunity, and for the warm welcome.

AND... I was especially delighted when one girl introduced herself -- her middle name is Irene! Which is quite unusual these days, as Irene is such an old name... she, too, was named after a great grandmother. We had to take a selfie:

Two Irenes!
I look forward to spending more time at the Springville Library. Who knows? We might even start a book club... or a poetry camp! Stay tuned. :)

Friday, March 23, 2018

Dreaming and Making with Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit lovely Laura at Writing the World for Kids for Roundup.

In these parts, today marks the beginning of spring break. Woohooo! We have some adventures planned for the break -- and some relaxation, too.... calm before the storm that is National Poetry Month. :)

Today I am celebrating the lovely, generous and wise Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, who has not one but TWO new books this month. Congratulations, Amy!!! I'm excited to share with all of you a bit from each.

First, DREAMING OF YOU by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, illus. by Aaron DeWitt, brought to us by Boyds Mills Press. This is a sweet bedtime book, and it's earned a starred review from Kirkus!

Amy IS a star, and always has been, so this feels particularly fitting - and I know how validating critical acclaim can be... it helps make us feel like our work is valuable, that someone "gets" it. And it can be the shot in the arm we need to keep going in this oh-so-challenging children's book industry. So, yay!

The book features animals and what they are dreaming about... kittens, turtles, fireflies... and horses! I have to share with you the verse about horses:

Horses are dreaming of wild, windy rides.
Horses are dreaming of wide open spaces.
Horses are dreaming of you telling secrets
into long ears as you nuzzle their faces.

Isn't that lovely and sweet and exactly what horses are surely dreaming about? It makes me want to write verses about what other animals are dreaming... and maybe what Ruby (our dog) is dreaming! (A rubber chicken, perhaps? That squirrel that always always gets away? The sway of the breeze and the swell of the sun as she rides with us on the boat?) Fun.

And now, I've got to share with you about WITH MY HANDS: Poems about Making Things by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, picutres by Lou Fancher & Steve Johnson, brought to us by Clarion Books. Amy is a maker, a do-er, so this book is like sharing an afternoon in Amy-land! I love it. Maybe because I am a maker and a do-er, too... my whole life I've been painting and doodling and stained-glassing and scrapbooking and collaging and quilting and stitching and baking and crafting. And there are poems in this book for many of these things! I'd like to share 2 of my favorites:
I am in love with the placement
of the text on the page!

by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

My grandma
                       taught me
how to knit
                       and when it's cold
I like to sit
                       with needles
and a ball of yarn.
                        I think of sheep
out in the barn
                        wearing wool
that soon will be 
                         knitted by
someone like me.
                         And as my fingers
                         each stitch into
a knit or purl
                         I watch my window
fill with snow.
                         I listen
as my needles go
to and fro
                          and watch
my knitting
and grow.

.... and the closing poem:

With My Hands
by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

When I make something new
I am never the same.

I can never go back
to the person I was.

For the thing that I made
is a part of me now.

I changed it.
It changed me.

I am different

I brought a new something
to lie with my hands.

If you are a maker
then you understand.

I DO understand! I DO! Thank you, Amy. And here are a few of my latest creations...
a sign pointing the way (down)
to the lake!

...and here it is close-up, while the paint was still drying:

....and here is a garland of origami swans... my son has made and gifted these to me over the years, and I finally figured out a lovely way to display them!

....finally, here is a double-sided t-shirt quilt I've just made for our youngest son as a graduation gift (shh!). It includes t-shirts from all the concerts he's been to with his dad. :)

side "Rock"

side "Roll"
Happy making! Happy reading! Happy dreaming! xo

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

VOICES IN THE AIR by Naomi Shihab Nye

Just wanted to share today a couple of favorite poems from VOICES IN THE AIR: Poems for Listeners by Naomi Shihab Nye. The book is in part a celebration of some of Naomi's favorite poets and artists. It's also kind of a recipe for living. AND it shows readers how this writing life isn't solitary at all. Our writing is impacted by everything we read... and we should be reading A LOT. Including this book. :) Enjoy!

Woven by Air, Texture by Air

“Your job is to find out what the world is trying to be.” - William Stafford

Some birds hide in leaves so effectively
you don't see they're all around you.
Brown tilted heads, observing human maneuvers
on a sidewalk. Ws that a crumb someone threw?
Picking and poking, no fanfare for company,
gray huddle on a branch, blending in.
Attention deeper than a whole day.
Who says, I'll be a thoughtful bird when I grow up?
Stay humble, blend, belong to all directions.
Fly love, love a shadow. And sing, sing freely,
never let anything get in the way of your singing,
not darkness, not winter,
not the cries of flashier birds, not the silence
that finds you steadfast
pen ready, at the edge of four a.m.
Your day is so wide it will outlive everyone.
It has no roof, no sides.

- Naomi Shihab Nye

In Transit

I mailed a package to myself, it never arrived.
Months later, wondering what it contained...
the package was oversized, I paid extra.
Mailed it from a place under trees. Surely shade
and sunlight was in the package. Mailed it
from a place compassionate to refugees.
Unopened envelopes inside the package,
poems from kind students hoping for response.
How do we answer without knowing
who they were or what they said?
This is why you must smile at everyone,
living and dead, everywhere you go.
You have no idea what has been lost
in transit.

- Naomi Shihab Nye

Monday, March 19, 2018


Wow, it's been a while since I posted for a Movie Monday -- not because we haven't seen any movies. We have! Bunches! There just hasn't been one I've loved enough to blog about. I mean, the whole Oscar season came and went, and I just felt meh about the nominated movies. Which makes me double happy to be blogging today about a movie that made me think and feel and that we're still talking about days later: TEMPLE GRANDIN, starring Claire Danes.

Originally a 2010 TV movie, it tells the story of Temple, who has autism, and how she learned to use the gifts of autism to make important changes -- and a place for herself -- in the animal husbandry industry.

The message of the movie is a timely one: "different, not less."

I loved how determined Temple was, how truly herself she was. And because I happen to love someone who happens to be on the spectrum, I could relate. I've seen this coexistence of brilliance and struggle. I've wondered so many times, what to do? How to help?

The movie shows us that the best thing we can do is love each other, let people be exactly who they are -- while also encouraging and pushing them to be their best selves. This is not just a gift to give people with autism, but how we can love anyone and everyone in the world.

Pretty inspirational... and now I've got to read Temple Grandin's books. (I've read a number of her articles over the years, but not her books.) Must remedy! Meanwhile, here's Temple giving an amazing TED talk.

Friday, March 16, 2018

HIDDEN CITY: Poems of Urban Wildlife by Sarah Grace Tuttle

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit lovely Linda at TeacherDance for Roundup.

It's my pleasure to share with you today HIDDEN CITY: Poems of Urban Wildlife by Sarah Grace Tuttle, illustrated by Amy Schimler-Safford (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers).

Big congratulations to Sarah on her debut! How exciting. (Also: Sarah gave me permission to share that she goes by "Sarah" in real life, but is using her full name "Sarah Grace Tuttle" for her books to distinguish herself from other Sarah Tuttles and also to honor the "spitfire" great-grandmother she was named after!)

HIDDEN CITY is a collection of little snapshots/celebration of life in the city. It's free verse with lots of movement and sound -- Red-winged blackbird goes “Twee! Twee!” Inchworm “drops!/ dangles/ drops!/dangles” Crickets “chreet...chreet!” The book moves through the seasons across a wide variety of cityscapes and includes a wide variety of life... plants, mammals, birds, and insects.

Here are two excerpts... and then, please keep reading to learn Sarah's answers to three simple prompts!

Bat Breakfast
by Sarah Grace Tuttle

By a glowing street lamp
little brown bats
with a
And a
And a hasty
For moths
drawn by the light.

Falcon Fledge
by Sarah Grace Tuttle

A peregrine falcon
six weeks old
teeters thirty-two stories above
busy sidewalks and a traffic jam.
She clutces the edge of her nest,
bobs her head,
and then
flap! Flap-flap flaps her wings
And fumble-flies down
to a roof across the street:
first flight.
And now, here's Sarah!

Sarah Grace Tuttle
The difficult: Picking which birds to include in Hidden City was extremely difficult! There are many, many city birds that I love, but I decided early on that I wanted the poems to have an even distribution of species diversity. So, I was elated when I saw that Amy’s illustrations included many more of my favorite birds than I could in my writing.

The delicious: Hidden City has been many years in the making. Throughout the course of the book’s development, I’ve watched Urban Ecology become a more accepted and popular scientific discipline, and the movement to recognize, value and foster nature in cities pick up ever-growing speed. It is delicious to me that, in a small way,Hidden City is a part of tha­t movement.

The unexpected: Writing is a very solitary process in many ways, so it has been a joyous surprise to see the ways in which Hidden City has added community to my life. From leading me to seek out additional ways to interact with nature in my area, to sparking fascinating conversations and true friendships… all areas of my life have been enriched by the process of creating this book.
Thank you, Sarah!! So pleased and proud for your very first book of children's poetry. May there be many more! xo

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Books Have Helped Me

I recently read OVERHEARD IN A TOWER BLOCK: Poems by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Kate Milner. This book has garnered some critical acclaim in the UK, so I wanted to check it out. It's a series of poems, all about growing up in a housing project -- which can be gritty and difficult, but also with beautiful moments. These poems all stand alone, which I appreciate! Here's one I can relate to completely:

Books Have Helped Me
by Joseph Coelho

Books have more images between their words
than any smart phone could hold.
More flavours than a thousand jelly beans.
More lives for you to live
than any computer game.

Books have helped me.

I've read about characters
who have laughed, cried and sighed like me.

Characters who have battled
monsters larger than any I could imagine.

Characters who have travelled distances longer
than there are miles between me and the sun.

When I thumb through a book
their pages whisper to me
that I'll be all right.

And here's one more, for those of us who love getting/sending snailmail:

When Your Letters Came
by Joseph Coelho

When your letters came...
I stuck the stamps in my scrapbook,
sent my dreams to a secret shore.

A place imagined from each tiny image:
peeled palm trees,
grand ships and heroes,
a magical land

where you sat under a sticky sky,
writing promises
in sun-faded ink.

Want more? Click to see/hear the author reading his poem "The Watchers" on vimeo.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Alabama Report

Wow, last week was some kind of week! It was my great pleasure to welcome Charles Waters to Alabama, where we shared time with readers and writers and good folks of all kinds!

me (wearing my Roll Tide
 sweater!) with Ludelphia
and Paige Miller
Our first stop was Tuscaloosa/T-town/The University of Alabama. While I am an Auburn fan (!), I did earn a graduate degree from Alabama... and I DO like elephants... and I have never had anything but good times in Tuscaloosa!

This time I was pleased and grateful to work again with the ever-inspiring Paige Miller of the Women and Gender Resource Center and Jamie Naidoo of the Library Sciences department -- and also new President of ALSC! (I know, it was like being in the presence of royalty! Except without all the bowing and such. Jamie is one of the nicest, smartest people on the planet.)

I was thrilled to share LEAVING GEE'S BEND with the brown bag lunch crowd, and then later that evening to join Charles in introducing CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR?
I never get tired of watching Charles perform his poems!
Isn't this THE BEST?!
The next day we had an amazing day at Shades Mountain Elementary School in Hoover, Alabama. This visit was arranged by Ann Marie Corgill who not only is a fabulous teacher, but is just one of the best humans ever. And I'm not the only one who thinks so: she's a former Alabama Teacher of the Year! I was moved to tears more than once interacting with these precious kids and reading their poems and art... which Charles and I are in the process of getting on display in our Padlet gallery. (Do take a look... more pieces added all the time!) Meanwhile, check out this amazing Sound Wave art! The kids read and recorded our poem "Dear Mrs. Vandenberg," used software to create the soundwave, then made it into art! Isn't that brilliant?!

Charles Waters, Irene Latham, Pat(ty Jean) Weaver
Next up was the SCBWI Writing and Illustrating for Kids conference. Many thanks to the slew of volunteers who made it happen! It started with a signing during which Charles and I were able to present a little about the book -- after which, the bookseller apologetically announced he'd sold out of our books! A good problem to have, right? Also: Linda Sue Park bought our book!!!! Amazing, right? :) We also got a pic of me, Charles, and the real-life Patty Jean (who appears in the book!). Fun. I'm so grateful to friends who came out to support us... a thousand thank yous!!

One of the best parts of the weekend was (finally!) introducing Charles to my family, and my family to Charles! Here he is with two of my most precious:
my bodyguards :)
And finally: check out this adorable video!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

New Picture Books to Celebrate Family and Home

I've got quite a busy week ahead, full of all kinds of wonderment, so I thought I would leave you with a pair of books! And if you haven't already signed up, there are just a few spots left for this year's Progressive Poem! Sign up here. Now, the books:

MEET MY FAMILY! Animal Babies and Their Families by Laura Purdie Salas, illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman (Millbrook/Lerner)


A PLACE TO START A FAMILY:  Poems About Creatures that Build by David L. Harrison, illustrated by Giles Laroche (Charlesbridge)
I love MEET MY FAMILY! for the way it includes a ton of nonfiction info -- and yet ultimately is about celebrating ALL families, whatever they look like. A variety of animal babies tell us something about their families, like "My parents both take care of me" (tundra swan cygnets) and "I've never met my dad" (raccoon kits). Even adopted kids are represented, which pleases me, as the big sister of three adopted siblings.

This book is a great example of "layers" -- rhyming text! additional nonfiction prose! animal baby names! global! words in different languages! inclusivity/acceptance! If you are looking to write nonfiction picture books, this is a great mentor. Plus it's just plain adorable and will leave you smarter -- and happier about the world.

A PLACE TO START A FAMILY contains poems about animal architects and is divided into sections: Builders Underground, On Land, In Water, In Air -- plus a bonus poem about "A Different Kind of Builder" (Sun Coral).

My favorite is the stork poem, in part, because as a kid I loved THE WHEEL ON THE SCHOOL by Meindert DeJong, which features storks building their nest (on the wheel on the school). This fascinated me -- still does. And now here is David Harrison's poem:

White Stork

When high on chimney top you nest,
legend tells us those who dwell
within the house are surely blessed.

How old your nest no one can tell,
you keep it in such good repair.
Your ancestors placed it well.

With sturdy sticks they built it there,
where now you cast your lucky spell
and raise your baby storks with care.

- David L. Harrison

Back matter includes additional info about each animal builder and "Learn More!" links.

Here's the text related to the above poem:

"White Stork (Ciconia ciconia)

Folklore says that storks bring good luck and deliver babies, but the only babies they deal with hatch from the eggs they lay in enormous nests on rooftops, church spires, and other high places. Some nests are used for many generations of storks and can be seven feel across and ten feet deep. Both parents take care of the chicks until they leave the nest, which happens when they are about two months old. Juveniles aren't very colorful, but adults are nearly four feet all, with brown eyes, a red bill and legs, a white body, black wing tips and wings that stretch up to seven feet from tip to top."

I hope you'll give these a read!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Alabama Friends, Hope to See You This Week!

March 7, noon: University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, AL), Women and Gender Resource Center, brown bag lunch talk: "The Power of Quilting: Connecting Women Across Cultures"

March 7, 6:00-7:30 pm, University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, AL), Gorgas Library, room 205:
"Writing about Race, Mistakes, and Friendship" with Charles Waters
 (my co-author who is visiting from New York City!). Book signing to follow.

March 9, Homewood Library (Homewood, AL), 3:30-5:30 Meet amazing authors! Be inspired!

Charles and I will be joining a slew of other children's book authors and illustrators for an SCBWI reading and signing.

...and... this is not a public event, but Charles and I are excited to be visiting Shades Mountain Elementary in Hoover.... and I will be introducing Charles to friends, family and the real-life Patty Jean (who makes an appearance in CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR?). It's going to be fun!

Friday, March 2, 2018

2018 Progressive Poem - Sign Up Here!

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Renee at No Water River for Roundup.

I do have a poem from the book SHAKING THINGS UP to share with you today in honor of National Women's History Month, but first:

It's that time again! National Poetry Month (April) will soon be upon us, which means it is time again to sign up for our annual KIDLITOSPHERE PROGRESSIVE POEM. This year -- our 7th year! -- our goal is to again create a poem for kids (because last year was awesome!), and lovely Liz Steinglass will be launching our first line! The rest is up to all of YOU! I invite you to choose your day in comments, and I will update the calendar below as we go along.

Here's how it works: Poetry Friday Friends and other poetry lovers are invited to join in a community writing experience during National Poetry Month (April).

What is it? a poem that travels daily from blog to blog, with each host adding a line, beginning April 1. Anyone who wants to join in the fun can sign up below. First come, first served. If you are new to the Progressive Poem, please include your email and blog url in comments -or- send via email: irene (at) irenelatham (dot) com.

2 Jane at Raincity Librarian
4 Michelle at Today's Little Ditty
5 Jan at bookseedstudio
6 Irene at Live Your Poem
7 Linda at TeacherDance
8 Janet F. at Live Your Poem
11 Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales
12 Carol at Beyond LiteracyLink
13 Linda at A Word Edgewise
15 Donna at Mainely Write
16 Sarah at Sarah Grace Tuttle
18 Christie at Wondering and Wandering
19 Michelle at Michelle Kogan
20 Linda at Write Time
23 Amy at The Poem Farm
24 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Buffy at Buffy's Blog
28 Kat at Kat's Whiskers
29 April at Teaching Authors
30 Doraine at Dori Reads
Now for a look at SHAKING THINGS UP: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World by Susan Hood, illustrated by 13 Extraordinary Women (Harper). This book features all sorts of women who were changemakers of one kind or another -- and the illustrations are inspired and inspiring. Favorites of mine are the Malala by Selina Alko and Frida Kahlo by Erin K. Robinson.

The poem I'd like to share with you today is about "Annette Kellerman, Champion Athlete and Inventor of the Modern Swimsuit." Here is the quote included with the illustration: "I want to swim. And I can't swim wearing more stuff than you hang on a clothes line."

Ha - Annette was a practical gal! I like that. Question for our Aussie poets: is Annette well known in Australia?
art by Emily Winfield Martin

Here's more about here, as printed beneath the poem:

"Australian Annette Kellerman (1886-1975) wore braces on her legs as a child, possibly due to rickets. Her doctor suggested swimming to strengthen her leg muscles. She went on to win world records, perform daredevil diving stunts, and star in silent films, popularizing a new one-piece bathing suit and ushering in a new age of athleticism for women."

Now I am not particularly athletic, but I DO like to wear what I like to wear -- which is often skirts and dresses. And I am all for anything that helps a woman be more exactly herself.

Here's the poem:

Turning the Tide
by Susan Hood

There once was a mermaid queen,
lovely and lithesome and lean,
who swam afternoons
without pantaloons --
her swimsuit was deemed obscene!

The lady was quickly arrested.
Unafraid, she calmly protested:
Who can swim fifty laps
wearing corsets and caps?
Her statement could not be contested.

She streamlined the suit of the day
and invented our water ballet.
By changing the fashions
she fueled swimming passions
as women made waves in the spray.
Now why does this make me think of Michelle at Today's Little Ditty? :) Happy day to all!