Friday, March 29, 2019

Announcing my 2019 National Poetry Month ARTSPEAK! theme

Hello and Happy last Poetry Friday of March! Be sure to visit Carol at Carol's Corner for Roundup.

I'm excited today to share about my 2019 National Poetry Month poem-a-day project ARTSPEAK!, now in its 5th year! Each year I dedicate the month of April to writing poems inspired by art. (Which means I'll be pressing "pause" on my Butterfly Hours Memoir Project during this month. I'll pick up in May with the next prompt, which is "gloves.")

The first year (2015) I didn't really have a theme, except ARTSPEAK!, in which my goal was (and continues to be!) to listen to what the art was trying to say... and these were all persona poems. I chose pieces exclusively from the National Gallery of Art online collection, with a particular focus on pieces with kid appeal.

2016 I wrote poems inspired by one of my new (at the time) books: FRESH DELICIOUS: Poems from the Farmers' Market. I called it ARTSPEAK: Plant. Grow. Eat!

2017 I focused on people and animals -- ARTSPEAK: Portraits

2018 I continued my art education -- and added diversity (the NGA collection is woefully not representative of many cultures/ethnicities) -- with ARTSPEAK: Harlem Renaissance

And this year, I am throwing everything I've got into my 2019 One Little Word. I give you.... ARTSPEAK: Happy!

This has its roots in a letter I received from a student. Here's my tweet about it:

Kind of a wake up call, isn't it?

I searched for art not just at NGA, but Google Arts & Culture and also WikiArt. I am loving the pieces I discovered! I hope you will, too. As always, I invite you to join along, if you're feeling artsy. :)

To get the happy juices flowing, I decided to write a poem inspired by the art I selected for my badge... and including some of my goals for this series:

Give Me a Happy Poem
after "The Sky Was Yellow" by Enrico Baj

Give me a happy poem
a burn-away-the-blues poem –

where words sizzle,
stanzas dance.

Make me giggle,
make me gasp!

Show me a world that radiates heat,
ignites hope

even on the darkest
- Irene Latham
...and here is a video! Yes, for the first time I am sharing these via video instead of just audio. Eep! I'll be learning and (hopefully) improving all month long. :)

 I look forward to all the goodness from all of you... and of course I'm excited to see where our Progressive Poem will lead us! We'll get started on Monday over at Matt's place. Yay!


  1. Oh my gosh, yes! While it's true that people like to see their lives reflected in books, sometimes they really want an escape, a break, a lift. Thank you, Irene xo

  2. Oh yes! I do wonder of late if there is enough happiness in books. Enough JOY! Have a fun month. Another project that I'm tempted to tickle the edges of...😉

  3. Oh my goodness, how I love your first poem. This is a gem and I so look forward to each day ahead! I am going to share this post on my fb page!! And share the poems with students.
    Janet Clare F.

  4. We so need joy and happiness this month, Irene!! Looking forward to your videos and yellow-y poems!!

  5. Love 'seeing you" and hearing those happy words, Irene. It's a beautiful theme: "a burn-away-the-blues poem –".

  6. This project makes me happy. Seeing your face makes me happy. Hearing this beautiful poem makes me happy. And listening to you read as you pet your adorable dog makes me happy. Hug and thank you and here we goooooo! xxxxx

  7. Irene. Your theme is wonderful. I had a student about a year ago that would come into the library and ask for books with good endings. She was tired of all the books that dealt with sadness or tragedy. So, on behalf of my student, THANK YOU! I'm have enjoyed all of your ARTSPEAK themes. And, I admire you for adding video. As much as I've played with writing and poetry, I've never had the nerve to read anything beyond crit group. You inspire.

  8. Irene, your ARTSPEAK project is one of my favorite things about April and I love this year's theme! I think we all need "a burn-away-the-blues poem" or two. I can't wait to see the art you've chosen and look forward to joining you when I can. Thank you for bringing so much happiness into the world!

  9. I'm so excited to follow your ARTSPEAK: Happy posts. I like the lines:
    "Make me giggle,
    make me gasp!"
    It's fun to think about the art you'll be showcasing for your happy theme. April promises to be amazing and filled with poetic fun.

  10. Bring on the happiness! Can't wait to see what art you found!

  11. Love the "happy" inspiration you've chosen for this year's ARTSPEAK, and what a lovely poem to kick it off! It definitely kicked off my morning with a little happiness :)

  12. YES - we can all use a bit more happiness in our lives, especially when our every day realities start to get a bit too heavy. Poetry can and should be a source of joy!

  13. You just made my gray, sick day turn around with your happy thoughts, Irene. Your April project is not only going to illuminate your one word but brighten the world for others. I'm excited.

  14. I am inspired by you in so many ways. Love this commitment to happy poems. Words sizzle, stanzas dance! In the midst of the state testing month, I will be happy to have some happy poems to read.

  15. Irene, I read your post last week a few times but I was so tired from my sinus infection that I forgot to write comments on several friends' post. I am happy to have a chance now. Irene, your NPM project this year is impressive but so have been your others. (Would I expect any less from you?) Short, snappy, happy poems are delightful. These lines make me happy: "where words sizzle,
    stanzas dance." May each poem brighten your day and ours, Irene. Oh, by the way, you made me happy with the wonderful postcard I received late today. I plan on sharing it in another post. Many thanks to you...


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