Friday, January 10, 2020

Elizabeth Bishop: Poet AND Artist

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Sally Murphy for Roundup. (Shout-out to all our Aussie poet-friends... keeping you in our hearts in the face of those devastating fires.)

This has been a whirlwind of a week for me... I've been sick (Paul, too -- no fun), but a few wonderful things have been happening in my writing life, and I'm so grateful to be able to share them with you:

1. I turned in the final draft of THIS POEM IS A NEST, a collection of one big (nest) poem and 160 (!) (short) poems found inside coming from Wordsong later this year. Now it's with the copyeditor, and also with illustrator Johanna Wright, who will no doubt make it even more magical!

2. Charles Waters and I were interviewed by Time for Kids magazine for a feature they are doing that will include our book DICTIONARY FOR A BETTER WORLD with illustrations by Mehrdokht Amini (coming in just 3 1/2 weeks from Lerner!).

3. Amy Huntington, amazing illustrator for my NINE: A BOOK OF NONETS stopped by to answer some prompts and share some sneak peek illustrations from the book (coming from Charlesbridge 6-9-2020). (Yes! Nine is my favorite number!)

4. THE CAT MAN OF ALEPPO, my book with Karim Shamsi-Basha and Yuko Shimizu (coming from Penguin 4-14-2020) got its first review, and it's a STAR from Kirkus (Hooray!):  “Based on a true story, this picture book is distinctive for its engaging narrative and impeccable illustrations . . . A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity.” –Kirkusstarred review

5. My latest book deal with Charles Waters was announced!

... and in my personal life, Paul and I have just booked a trip for next month to Phoenix-Scottsdale-Sedona-Grand Canyon. The desert, in winter! (Surely we will be feeling better by then!)

So. What does this all have to do with Poetry Friday and Elizabeth Bishop? Everything! I have long admired Elizabeth Bishop's "One Art," but I did not know until last week when I made my plea for "red" art that she was also an artist. Thank you, Jan Annino! And that got me thinking about those in our community who identify as poets AND artists, of which there are several! So this week's ARTSPEAK! Red poem is after Elizabeth Bishop's painting "Red Flowers on Black." (The flower is called "devil's paintbrush.")

Devil in the Night

Devil paints with a red paintbrush –
says, hurry hurry rush rush rush

Devil sings a shrill high note
says, give up, give in, there is no hope!

But Night knows all we have is time –
slow and steady is how the moon climbs.

Night breathes. . . hear the hush?
Night paints with a faith-filled brush.

- Irene Latham


  1. A book for each season -- so exciting, Irene!
    I have always wanted to see the Grand Canyon. Hope you are feeling good for your trip!
    Thank goodness Night paints with a faith-filled brush. xo

  2. Irene! So much amazing book news! Congratulations! I LOVE the "faith-filled brush." That one will stick with me.

  3. I am excited about all your books, and this latest news about the verse novel with Charles does sound wonderful, too, Irene. The Grand Canyon is amazing. I hope you are perfectly well and ready for that special trip! Happy you found another 'red' to celebrate!

  4. "African Town" sounds amazingly intriguing, I'm so exited for you and Charles–and look forward to reading it! Congrats on the ever-flowing outpour of books that are coming. I also love the last line in your Elizabeth Bishop's "Red Flowers on Black" poem. Heal up and have fun on your travel journeys… thanks! xo

  5. 1. Wow
    2. Wow!
    3. Wow!!
    4. Wow!!!!
    Irene, I'm so happy for you -- for the stories for the words! They get to come out into the world and be alive. Soooooooo wonderful. Thank you for sharing your good news. It is literally the perfect moment for me to read it. Hooray and Hooray!
    What fun you are having with RED already. Remember the flower, Indian Paintbrush? Your poem and the painting remind me.

  6. Simply beautiful in every many congratulations! Here's to red and new books and health for both of you over there! xxxx

  7. Oh, that we could all paint with Night's brush. Congratulations on all the exciting good news, Irene. Bravo!

  8. Such wonderful, exciting news! Congratulations! My grandmother taught me the name for "devil's paintbrush" and I'm sure she, too, would have loved both Elizabeth Bishop's painting and your lovely poem. Feel better soon!

  9. Congratulations on your starred review... hooray for you!!! Love this devil's paintbrush poem also. Thanks for this post!

  10. So sorry to hear you've been unwell, but hopefully so much good news will fill you with the positive vibes to get better. And, like others, I Love that 'faith-filled brush.

  11. Hooray, Irene! Congratulations! What an amazing lineup of books. I'm looking forward to each one. You will love Arizona. The Grand Canyon is breathtaking!
    Hope you're feeling better soon!

  12. Golly, Irene! You've been very very (secretly) busy and it looks like 2020 is a big year for you. Many congratulations and wow, what a range!

  13. Woohoooooo! So much fabulous news, Irene! And I just adore your red Bishop-inspired poem. Deeply satisfying to read.

  14. Wow! Wonderful news, Irene! Congrats. I will be on the look out for the Time for Kids article-my 4th grader has homework from the magazine each week!

  15. Congratulations on all the good news. That is so exciting! And you poem made me sigh and swoon--such a calm ending.

  16. So fun to know that one of my favorite authors has all of these new books coming out! I've been waiting for DICTIONARY for a very long time! I love "night paints with a faith-filled brush." So beautiful... Hope you feel better soon!

  17. Finally, I got around to read some more PF posts now that I am home from my wonderful week in Virginia. Irene, I am so excited for the amazing events happening in your life. You bring such joy to your writing and today's red poem is another fine example. It shares hope in quiet times as we wait patiently. I need to take heed of that call to action.

  18. CONGRATULATIONS on all this wonderful news, Dear Friend - you've worked hard for it. Can't wait to enjoy so many books from you, and your partnership with Charles, too! Important voices, yours. And, I didn't know Elizabeth Bishop was a visual artist as well as a poet - thanks to you and Jan for the enlightenment. :0)
    Hoping you & Paul are feeling better and will be rarin' to go soon for what sounds like a glorious trip - Enjoy!!

  19. Congratulations on all of your wonderful and deserving good news, Irene, and thank you for sharing this poem of truth. I definitely needed to hear it today, and you are a reminder of what can happen when we just keep painting "with a faith-filled brush."

  20. Irene! And hubby. Be well and fly right. Deep breaths to dear Irene and dear Charles for all the activities flowing your ways.
    I have an idea that Ms. E would delight in your duet with her here.
    Will send another red art, this one by Mr. Ashley Bryan, in e-note.
    Happy Dr. King Holiday Weekend
    l o v e

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