Friday, April 19, 2019

ARTSPEAK: Happy! poem "When a Horse Writes a Poem"

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Amy's continuing boy/dog poemstory at The Poem Farm for Roundup.

Welcome to ARTSPEAK: Happy! my 2019 National Poetry Month poem a day project, in which I am responding to pieces of art that make me happy. Read why in my introductory post.

Also, because someone asked how I select the artworks. Once I determine a theme, I start art hunting online. This year I was looking for pieces that made me smile, and I discovered quickly that many of those pieces were heavily yellow. I'm also looking for art that speaks to the child in me, as these poems are intended for a young audience.

Some sources I browse include National Museum of Art online collection, Google Arts and Culture (I particularly love their color-themed galleries), and WikiArt. I prefer to use pieces in the public domain, though occasionally I have strayed from that. My hope and my goal, of course is to someday find a publisher for some of these poems. It is a dream of mine to have an ARTSPEAK collection in the world!

So I just choose pieces until I've collected 30 or 31... and then I'm done! I really just operate on gut and don't overthink it. This annual project is all about fun and play for me.

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
The Weight of Happiness after "Flower Seller" by Diego Rivera
By the Sea "Coastal Scene with Gulls" by Maud Lewis
Sister Song after an untitled piece by Henry Darger
Two Cows after "2 Cows" by Maud Lewis
Girl in Hat after "Girl in Hat" by Norman Lewis
Backstage after "Dancers in Green and Yellow" by Edgar Degas. 
"So Many Suns" after Kohbar of Mithila
"To an Olive Tree" after Olive Trees with Yellow Sky and Sun by Vincent van Gogh
"Three Black Cats" after Three Black Cats by Maud Lewis
"When Grandma Reads" after Mrs. Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren by Mary Cassatt
"On a June Afternoon" after Pigeon on a Peach Branch by Emperor Huizong
"On the Water" after On the Water by Mary Cassatt
"Autumn Prayer" after Red Vineyard at Arles by Vincent van Gogh
"Julie Manet with Cat" by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Today's piece is "Horse Head on a Yellow Background 1953" by Fernand Leger.

When a Horse Writes a Poem
 - after "Horse Head on a Yellow Background 1953" by Fernand Leger

Words prance onto the page,
all rhythm and grace.

That poem has ears that twitch,
deepdark eyes that gaze.

Yes, there are fences
but also open gates –

when a horse writes a poem,
you can't look away.

Giddyup! the poem says.
So you graze on poems all day.

- Irene Latham

Be sure to visit Heidi at my juicy little universe for the latest line in our Progressive Poem.


  1. Perfect! This is such a great poem for kids....all the use of horse terms give it context. And, I kid "could" create their own poem by taking out the horse words and inserting their own topic. I love it. Your poems and your project have made me happy this month. Thank you. Happy Poetry Friday to you!

  2. You had me at "Words prance onto the page . . ." and so satisfying to think of grazing on poems all day. I'll be dipping in and out of the field for Poetry Friday nibbles.

  3. Yeah, I think horses write lots of poems. And then they eat them. "Yes, there are fences/but also open gates -" That's the way of it all, isn't it? Happy Homestretch! xx

  4. I love "When a Horse Writes a Poem." I think it really speaks to how our experiences shape as a writers.

  5. So fun! I think I'll try some "When a ____ Writes a Poem" poems, too!

  6. Love this, Irene! I love to graze on poems with twitchy ears xo

  7. So fun. You had me at the opening line :). Off to graze on more poetry . . .

  8. I love this! And that reminds me that I read a poem of yours recently with my students --- I will write you an email all about it. :-)

  9. I love all the horse-related words in your poem, Irene. Quite lovely. I'm also intrigued by the National Poetry Month poem a day project both you and Amy are doing. Is this the one sponsored by the Academy of American Poets? I need to learn more about this!

  10. Like Ramona, I was struck by the beginning, words prance onto the page all rhythm and grace. I went back and read it with awe before actually finishing the rest. Thank you for this gem.

  11. This is a beautiful response to that painting, Irene. I love the way it flows when read aloud, and that ending, yes, terrific: "Giddyup! the poem says.
    So you graze on poems all day."

  12. Yay for this happy horse poem! I think it's a great example to use to encourage kiddos to try it from another animal's perspective. Love this, Irene!

  13. What a wonderful thing to "graze on poems all day!" And how fun these lines are
    "That poem has ears that twitch,
    deepdark eyes that gaze."
    Thanks Irene, xo.

  14. What fun poem-- perfect for all those kids (like both me and my daughter) who begged for a horse in vain. Maybe we would have had better luck had we found a horse that wrote a poem!


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