Sunday, April 1, 2018

ARTSPEAK! Harlem Renaissance "This Poem is A Dream"

Welcome to 2018 ARTSPEAK!, in which I am focusing on art and artists from the Harlem Renaissance. Also, Happy Easter! :)

Before we get started, be sure to visit Liz at Elizabeth Steinglass to read the very first line of this year's Progressive Poem!

I've decided to start my Harlem Renaissance poetry project with Aaron Douglas who was often called the “official artist of the Harlem Renaissance," or the “Father of Black American Art.”

Aaron Douglas illustrated many books during the 1920's, and I learned in the book HARLEM STOMP! by Laban Carrick Hill that his work came to embody all that the Harlem Renaissance stood for – the culturally rich aspects of African-American life and heritage. So for the first week of this project, I will be writing after his work.

The first piece I've selected is "Aspiration." You can read some information about the painting here. I'm impressed by all that's going on in the painting, but it's not my job to include everything in my poem. I knew by the title and by the lights that what I wanted to write about was dreams and dreamers.

This Poem is A Dream
- after “Aspiration” by Aaron Douglas

This poem shakes off
the shackles of meter,
chains of history.
It leaves behind lined fields
and dives into wide-open


where it beams a North Star
across skyscrapers
and pine cathedrals,
promising all dreamers:

          We can fly

          We can FLY

- Irene Latham



  1. A beautiful beginning to a beautiful NPM!

  2. Simply gorgeous, Irene. "Pine cathedrals." Wow. xxxx

  3. Love that beaming North Star!

    Looking forward to learning more about Harlem Renaissance artists via your poems!

  4. I love the promise of your beginning poem, Irene, those who are dreaming of this shining city, and the poem shaking off "the shackles of meter,
    chains of history."

  5. Delighted to spend another month with your poems and art! Love the way your positioned the word "sky" in the poem.

  6. Love the metaphor of history and poetic forms–your poem does fly Irene, thanks!

  7. Wow! This is stunning, Irene. The layers of meaning in each line are incredibly powerful.


Your thoughts?