Friday, April 5, 2019

ARTSPEAK: Happy! poem "The Weight of Happiness" by Irene Latham

Happy National Poetry Month! And Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Karen Edmisten for Roundup.

I've been at Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival the past few days -- I love this conference!

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

Poems so far:

Girl in a Yellow Dress after "A Girl in a Yellow Dress, 1917" by Amedeo Modigliani.

When the Stars Come to Town after "Cafe Terrace at Night" by Vincent van Gogh.

On a Golden Day in May after "Checkered House" by Grandma Moses.

Beach Time after "Children Playing on the Beach" by Mary Cassatt

Today's piece is "Flower Seller" by Diego Rivera.

This one really draws me in... I mean, that is one big bunch of calla lilies! So beautiful, especially since we don't see the girl's face. It just feels to me like one of those overwhelming moments, and so that's where my poem went:

The Weight of Happiness
after" The Flower Seller" by Diego Rivera

And the world swarmed yellow,
buzzed with the scent of home
as she fell to her knees,
wanting to take it all in –
the sun the sky the rain the bees
her father's expectations
her mother's dreams –
this day, this moment
the velvety petals
pressing against her cheeks
declaring their wild promises.
- Irene Latham

Be sure to visit Linda at TeacherDance for today's line in our Progressive Poem!


  1. It feels like you've visited when I hear your poems, Irene, an added bonus this poetry month! Rivera's art makes me want to reach out with the young woman and your poem fills me up, that "wanting to take it all in –", love the details, too. Thank you! Happy Friday!

  2. Just beautiful, Irene. Life affirming and full of hope. Fab painting too. :)

  3. Irene, beautiful poem- my favorite line is "declaring their wild promises" It leaves me feeling so hopeful! xo

  4. Oh, just surrounded this painting with the perfect words. This is how Ekphrastic poetry is done. I love how the whole world becomes the flowers for this young lady. Beautiful. I love your April projects.

  5. I love where your last line carries our imagination,
    "declaring their wild promises."
    Your reading and video makes it that much more special, thanks, xo

  6. I haven't managed to comment on each poem, but I've been following along, delighting in each new poem. Wow! Just wow! I love the thread of joy and happiness weaving its way through all of them. This one captures that overwhelming fall-on-your-knees moment so beautifully, and the final line is perfection.

  7. Love this poem. For me it is a reminder to be truly present in my happiness- to really feel it and experience it.

  8. I just love this so much. I've been trying to find one line in particular that does it to me, but It all has to be there I think.

  9. Well, THAT is just lovely--Wendell Berry and Mary Oliver have a child and she sounds like you! Your title leaves me with unanswered wonders.
    Also, Irene, you might find your videos getting hits from the ASMR crowd--your tone is very very soothing.

  10. I love that last line. This poem is just what I needed. It gives me hope and comfort.

  11. Gorgeous, Irene! I think Linda described it best, your poem fills me up.

  12. I love how your poem ignores the prose rules, how you began the poem with “And” (I wonder how that would work as the first word of a short story… ) and then how you gave us a series without commas to separate (“the sun the sky the rain the bees / her father’s expectations / her mother’s dreams” ) making me feel the “wanting to take it all in” — the concrete and the abstract, nature and family. Calla lilies are so beautiful. So much meaning… used in weddings and funerals. I must admit that the first thing I thought of was that Calla lilies are often carved on tombstones, and a broken calla lily flower on a tombstone means the person died too young. I suppose that’s because my husband and I have searched old cemeteries to find many of his ancestors graves, some dating back to early 1600s.

  13. The Weight of Happiness is so joyful! Love the swarmed/buzzed verbs that open your poem, and the wild promises that close it.

  14. Like several others, I love the "wild promises." And "the world swarmed yellow." A perfect description of a perfect day. And I'm also fascinated by "the sun the sky." So cool how that line, without punctuation, is so perfect.

  15. Oh, Irene, I just want to fall into that painting and your poem -- both are so lush and rich and beautiful. Gorgeous. And I love your reason for choosing the theme of "Happy" -- that sweet letter from the 6th grader. Oh, my. Carry on! More wild promises, please! :)


Your thoughts?