Monday, April 1, 2019

ARTSPEAK: Happy! poem "Girl in a Yellow Dress"

Happy  National Poetry Month! I'm excited to be continuing my ARTSPEAK series -- this year with poems on the theme of "Happy." Read why in my introductory post.

Today's piece is "A Girl in a Yellow Dress, 1917" by Amedeo Modigliani.

I am no stranger to girls in yellow dresses... one in particular has made me happy for years: Etta Mae Pettway, a supporting character in LEAVING GEE'S BEND. There's a chapter in the book called "Girl in the Yellow Dress," and on my 2019-to-do list is to research Mobile, Alabama 1930-32 history to write a companion novel from Etta Mae's point of view. So there's that!

Interestingly, I don't think I've ever worn a yellow dress, because I've never thought yellow to complement my skin tone. Hmmm...

Anyhow, this poem came to me quickly and easily... because whether I wear the yellow dress or not, I AM this girl. Enjoy!

Girl in a Yellow Dress
after A Girl in a Yellow Dress by Amedeo Modigliani.
Sometimes I sit and stare
and you think I'm not going anywhere.

But in that moment,
that tiny, precise moment

my heart is dreaming,
mind-movies are streaming –

sailboats and pelicans are nesting
in my hair!

Truth is, I'm always smiling – somewhere.

- Irene Latham

Please be sure to stop by Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme to read Matt's opening line in this year's Progressive Poem! Yay!


  1. I love this girl (you!) and the magic of sailboats and pelicans nesting in her hair. An absolute delight. x

  2. Now you've made me smile, too, Irene! I love your backstory & just sent a postcard to Carter of a Modlgliani print, a favorite artist. And the poem, just right to begin this happy month: "sailboats and pelicans are nesting
    in my hair!"

  3. I especially like that last line! A secret smile, somewhere! xo

  4. Like you, I don't wear yellow, but I love yellow. It makes me happy! I love your last line!

  5. I'm a day late commenting on this post but wanted to tell you I used the painting "A Girl in a Yellow Dress" in my sophomore English class Monday. My students then wrote poems and are working a visual anthology for NPM. I also am writing a poem based on the painting but haven't finished it yet.

  6. She is veritably glowing with streams of pelicans and sailboats. Nice one!

  7. Love the poem and also, adored Leaving Gee's Bend. Great work!


Your thoughts?