Friday, June 26, 2020

OPEN CALL for a new Children's Poetry Anthology

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Karen at Karen's Got a Blog for Roundup.

Some of you may have received the notice below via email. In an effort to give everyone a chance to be part of this, Charles and I are posting it on our blogs and social media outlets as well. Charles and I hope you'll send us a poem -- and please, spread the word! Our book can only be as strong and beautiful as the poems we receive.

Hello from Irene Latham and Charles Waters. We’re also known as the I and C Construction Co., where we've been building books one word at a time since 2015! We have just secured a book deal with Candlewick Press for an as-yet untitled collection of poems for children.

Here’s the official description:

In this children's poetry anthology, a diverse group of poets use the word "IF" as the first word in the first line of each poem inviting readers to take their own leaps into different worlds -- from the Practical to the Fantastical -- inspiring and empowering them to hope and dream; to transform their lives and the world; and know that anything is possible. It all starts with IF.

Our goal is to focus on imagination, to introduce readers to the galaxies that lie in wait behind those doors of “I” and “F” – what unseen treasures have you found there? What “if” have you wondered/dreamed/schemed about? Imagine practical things like, “If You Catch a Firefly” by Lilian Moore. Imagine a new you (personal growth). Imagine a different world (people, community, relationships). Imagine anything is possible (fantastical). Such a small, powerful word... what's YOUR “if”? Do YOU have an “if” poem? Would you like to write one?

Here are some basic guidelines:

Please send one poem only.
First word of the first line must be the word “If.” Not "WHAT if." Just IF. (Having “If” in the title is optional.)
Please no “If I Were A” poems. (We have plenty of these already!)
Poem no longer than 28 lines (shorter poems preferred).
Our target audience is ages 4-8.

Send your poem in the body of an email to by 11:59 pm Friday, July 3, 2020. Please also include: your name (or pen name), along with contact info, and a short (1-2 sentence) third-person bio.

If your poem is selected for inclusion, we will be in touch with you later this year. You will be compensated $100 for first-time only (non-exclusive) publication rights of the poem. This anthology is sure to inspire kids by infusing them with the spirit of imagination and endless possibility. We look forward to reading your work!

Wishing you strength and joy.

Our best,

Irene and Charles

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

ArtSpeak: RED "A girl who reads" poem

Be sure to tune in Friday for a very special announcement from me and Charles Waters -- Poetry Friends, you don't want to miss this!

Meanwhile, here's the latest ArtSpeak: RED poem about a girl who reads, written by a girl who reads... A LOT. Enjoy!

A girl who reads

believes this river
of ink
will deliver her
to an unclaimed frontier –

she calls the stars
by name
as the pages

- Irene Latham

Friday, June 19, 2020

ArtSpeak: RED poem "And this is where we shall meet"

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect for Roundup.

Huge thanks to everyone who made our Nikki Grimes Roundup a delight! If you've seen Nikki's Twitter and Facebook posts, then you know it meant a lot to her. Mission accomplished!

**Be sure to check in here next week, June 26, for a big announcement!**

Today I've got another RED poem for you. I think we've all had experience lately with separation from loved ones. It isn't easy when all we can do is dream up a reunion... will it be sweet, sad, passionate? With "red," you never know!

And this is where we shall meet

in the red room
on the corner

street empty
of feet

steeple rising
like a promise

sky thick with wings

and soon –

spilling from our mouths

- Irene Latham

Saturday, June 13, 2020

ArtSpeak: RED "Sister Sister" poem (with Slippers!)

This week's ArtSpeak: RED poem is inspired by the many childhood adventures I had with my sweet sister.... we're still enjoying adventures together!

Sister Sister

Sister, slip your slippers on.
Sister, come to breakfast.
Let's sip some fresh squeezed
orange juice,
smear sticky jam on toast
and lick it from our fingers.

Sister, slip your slippers off.
Sister come outside.
Let's dip into the morning woods
Quick, let's zip past
Fox's neighborhood --

                 Wait, Sister, not so fast!

                  Today, let's listen to the clover grow.
                  Today let's be rain –
                                                      and linger.

- Irene Latham

Thursday, June 11, 2020

NIKKI GRIMES Poetry Friday Roundup is Here!

Hello and Welcome to Poetry Friday Roundup! I'm honored to serve as this week's host.

Today we are all joining in a celebration of Nikki Grimes and her body of work.

Nikki, if you're reading this: SURPRISE! And WELCOME!

Nikki has won all kinds of awards lately, and due to covid, there haven't been in-person events, so this gives us all an opportunity to say:

New York Times bestselling author Nikki Grimes is the recipient of the ALAN Award for outstanding contributions to the field of adolescent literature, the 2017 Children's Literature Legacy Award, the 2016 Virginia Hamilton Literary Award, and the 2006 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. Her distinguished works include the much-honored books Garvey's Choice, ALA Notable book What is Goodbye?, Coretta Scott King Award winner Bronx Masquerade, and Coretta Scott King Author Honor books Jazmin's Notebook, Talkin' About Bessie, Dark SonsWords with Wings, and The Road to Paris. Creator of the popular Meet Danitra Brown, Ms. Grimes lives in Corona, California.

Most recently her memoir in poems ORDINARY HAZARDS (WordSong, 2019) has garnered a lot of attention, including these awards:

Boston Globe-Horn Book Nonfiction Honor Award
Michael L. Printz Honor Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature
Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Honor Award
2020 Arnold Adoff Poetry Award Winner for Teens

Charles Waters, Nikki Grimes,
Irene Latham at NCTE 2017
It was also on 11 best-books-of-the-year lists (Booklist Best Books of the Year, Bulletin Blue Ribbon list, Horn Book Fanfare list, Shelf Awareness Best Children's Books of the Year, Chicago Public Library Best Teen Nonfiction of 2019, a 2019 Eureka! Nonfiction Children's Books Gold Award Winner, 2019 Nerdy Book Club Poetry and Novels in Verse List, Mighty Girl's 2019 Best Books of the Year, finalist on the Cybils Best Poetry list, Bank St. College Best Books of the Year, World magazine 2020 Children's Books of the Year) and received six starred reviews (Booklist, BCCB, The Horn Book, PW, School Library Connection, Shelf Awareness).

Isn't that wonderful!? I invited Rebecca Davis whom I adore and editor of this book to share a few words with us in celebration of Nikki. Welcome Rebecca!

"Over the years, Nikki has written many powerful books of poetry and prose, always challenging herself as a writer. Her memoir, ORDINARY HAZARDS, shows how writing, faith, and her own brave spirit helped her navigate through the darkest times. These days, as so many are struggling against the dark in our world, I am thinking often of Nikki and of ORDINARY HAZARDS. I hope that readers who need this book will find it and that it will encourage them as they strive toward the light we all need now. 

"It takes courage to write your truth. It was an honor to walk with Nikki as she challenged herself to write ORDINARY HAZARDS, and it's a joy to see Nikki's fortitude and hard work rewarded with multiple awards. I wish that Nikki could partake in the usual celebrations that accompany such awards. May this Poetry Friday celebration of Nikki be a virtual hug and help make up for some of what she's missing. The children's poetry community is beautiful indeed."

Thank you, Rebecca! One thing I really related to in ORDINARY HAZARDS is Nikki's lack of memory of some (painful) events. For me, it's a survival mechanism. I don't want to remember. It takes so much bravery to look the past squarely in the face and invite those memories back... and also to admit to the forgetting? Nikki does both in this book.

As some of you may know, Charles Waters and I were able to shout-out Nikki in our book CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR? Poems of Race, Mistakes and Friendship (Lerner, 2018). She is the author who comes to visit our fictional 5th grade classroom, and the book Irene and Charles are in love with (in the book and in real life!) is BRONX MASQUERADE (Dial, 2001). Here is the poem Charles always performs for students during our joint author presentation:

Open Mike
by Devon Hope

I woke up this morning
exhausted from hiding
the me of me
so I stand here confiding
there's more to Devon
than jump shot and rim.
I'm more than tall
and lengthy of limb.
I dare you to peep
behind these eyes,
discover the poet
in tough-guy disguise.
Don't call me Jump Shot.
My name is Surprise.

- Nikki Grimes

And don't miss Nikki's 2020 releases: BEDTIME FOR SWEET CREATURES and SOUTHWEST SUNRISE.

Now, for the Roundup! Thank you for reading, and please leave your links below.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter
p.s. If you're looking for this week's ArtSpeak: RED poem, you'll find it on the blog tomorrow. :)

Friday, June 5, 2020

ArtSpeak: RED "The World of the Vase is Dark, Wet" poem

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure and visit Margaret at Reflections on the Teche for Roundup.

Also: if you'll be joining the Roundup (here!) next week June 12, you're invited to share a post in honor of Nikki Grimes and her body of work. 

I don't have an great words or thoughts to share today. I'm feeling emotionally fragile, as I know many of us are. Writing helps. Here's the latest ArtSpeak: RED poem in all its messy raw-ness. Thank you for reading. xo

The World of the Vase is Dark, Wet

it sits
on a table
with opinions
as fact

it holds
the scent
of bliss,
the velvety
of open

it admires
the red wall:
it's passion,
as blood,
and just
as necessary

- Irene Latham