Friday, January 29, 2021

"how to dress in winter" poem... and Caldecott-love!

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Jan at bookseedstudio for a song-full Roundup!

What a week! I've been floating ever since I got the call Sunday night about THE CAT MAN OF ALEPPO being named a Caldecott Honor Book! So proud and happy for illustrator Yuko Shimizu... Karim Shamsi-Basha and I are simply delighted about this recognition and hope it means many more children will learn about the Alaa's (the Cat Man) good works. Such an inspiring story! Thanks to all who have sent me notes—it has meant so much to share this with all of you. Mwah! 

And for those who have asked, "What does it feel like for one of your books to win a major award?" My short answer is: IT IS SO MUCH FUN! :) :) :)

My ArtSpeak: Four Seasons poem today is inspired in part by a comment from Laura PS, who mentioned taking walks during winter being kind of a hassle, because you have to put on so many clothes!

Before I get to the poem, I want to address a question from Heidi about how I decide what to publish here on ye ol' blog, and where these poems may eventually land. 

Full disclosure: it is a dream of mine to publish a collection of art poems... but so far I have not been able to find a publisher willing to do so! Maybe someday! 

Meanwhile, I love that this collection (now at over 200 poems) lives online and is accessible to all readers for FREE. It's allowed me to connect with students and to teach art-poem workshops (which I LOVE to do) even without a book! In many ways, it's BETTER than a book, because it is available to all. 

Anyhow, I write these poems with no restraint and always always with great care, putting forth my best work at the time. IF a publisher someday wants to publish some poems (or if I decide to submit a group of them as a manuscript), I can always remove those individual poems from the blog and padlet. (Some poems I have revised significantly, and they are included in other manuscripts... but the revisions are such that they are two different poems now, so no need to remove those poems from my online collections.)

I hope that makes sense! Thank you,  Heidi, for the question. 

And now, this week's poem. Thank you for reading!

how to dress in winter

red velvet
in reverse—

layers of sweet

with rich, dense
            velvet red

- Irene Latham

Friday, January 22, 2021

ArtSpeak: FOUR SEASONS "Walking in Winter" poem

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Laura Shovan for Roundup.

After a busy start to 2021, finally, some space to breathe this week! 

I don't know about you, but this time of year I get a little clutter-crazy... as in I WANT TO CLEAN EVERYTHING OUT. So I've been moving files from my studio filing cabinet to the attic; sorting through the closet and discarding things I never wear; and throwing away the expired food in my pantry. 

I also LOVE to rearrange furniture and came thisclose to moving our piano from my studio to the family room—and then changed my mind. I called the piano tuner, and that's that. As soon as he comes, I am for sure not moving it. (It belongs in my studio. Truly.)

And, even in Alabama, it's still winter... here's my latest ArtSpeak: FOUR SEASONS offering. Thank you for reading!

Walking in Winter

Let's go walking
in the snow, in the snow—
let's discover where the deer go.

As our boots squeak
and our cheeks turn pink—
we'll soon forget about the cold
as the snowswept woods unfold.

Let's go walking
in the snow, in the snow—
let's listen for the bird-show.

Hear that song, soft and clear,
full of love for this time of year—
for snow so wet and deep
and some seeds buried beneath the heap?

Let's go walking
in the snow, in the snow—
our footsteps mapping happiness
                                     wherever we go.

- Irene Latham

Friday, January 15, 2021

ArtSpeak: FOUR SEASONS "When Snow" poem

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Margaret at Reflections on the Teche for Roundup (where she's got more nestlings. Yay!).

It's been a catch-up kind of week for me, after the long vacation from the week before. I still don't feel all the way caught up, but there is satisfaction in checking more than half the things off the to-do list!

I'm excited to share with you today another winter snow poem—especially as parts of Alabama got snow this week. Here at the lake we got a new-to-me phenomenon: frozen fog. It looked like the trees were cast in suspended snow. Beautiful! Thank you for reading.

When Snow

when twilight falls
snow calls—

when child wiggles
snow giggles

when coat twirls
snow whirls

when horse prances
snow dances

when fire flurries
snow scurries

when moon shines
snow whines
                     come back

-Irene Latham

Friday, January 8, 2021

ArtSpeak: FOUR SEASONS "One for Joy" winter poem

ceiling display at
Rooster in the Garden
Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Sylvia at Poetry for Children for her annual Sneak Peek of Children's Poetry books (one of my favorite posts of the year!)... and Roundup!

We've been enjoying the beach this week in Ft. Pierce, FL... and Heathcote Botanical Gardens and A.E. Backus Museum & Gallery and seafood and the beach... nice to escape the real world for a while. (Actually we've decided this IS the real world, and all that other madness is what we'll happily leave behind!)

In D-39: A ROBODOG'S JOURNEY news, I wrote a post over at Smack Dab in the Middle about my D-39 dystopia-robo-journey-hope playlist. So fun to pair story and music... I hope you'll check it out.

And you've got to read the beautiful, creative nests and nestlings written by these marvelous poets:

Margaret Simon: Reflections on the Teche
Molly Hogan: Nix the Comfort Zone
Linda Mitchell: A Word Edgewise
Catherine Flynn: Reading to the Core
Heidi Mordhorst: My Juicy Little Universe

What a fun, inspiring surprise! You poets make me want to write and create and love the world... thank you.

Today's ArtSpeak poem is inspired by Monet's magpie, and a little rhyme you have heard about magpies that begins "One for sorrow..." Well, I wanted to turn that upside down. Thank you so much for reading!

One for Joy

solitary magpie
dressed in shiny finery

makes a bride of winter—

each morning
renewing its vow

to love this decadent
wedding-cake world

- Irene Latham

Friday, January 1, 2021

New Word, New Season, New Year— and a Winter Love Poem

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Ruth at there is no such thing as a godforsaken town for Roundup.

How wonderful to find ourselves entering this brand-new year! I'm excited to share with you my 2021 One Little Word:

I've selected this word because I can easily get caught up in cleverness, which keeps me in my head, when the way I want to experience the world is through my senses, fully engaged in the awe and mystery each moment offers... (reminds me of a quote I love: "You're either in your life or in your head." You can't be in both at the same time!)

Plus I'm turning 50 this year, and that seems like a good time to question everything. Simply selecting this word feels like spiritual growth for me — it's not neatly packaged like some of my other One Little Words... I look forward to discovering all it will come to mean in my life during the coming months.

...and I have a new ArtSpeak theme, too! While I enjoyed my "red" color study very much, I wanted something a bit more structured this year, which brought me to this:

So I'll be exploring all four seasons in art — as I experience the season we're in. I'm excited, and also aware that this may present a grand challenge... I mean, how many fresh and original poems can one write about snow? Eep! This practice pushes and grows me every year, and I expect this year especially so. We shall see... 

You can read the poems here each Friday and also at my new ARTSPEAK: Four Seasons padlet gallery.

Today's poem is a love poem, and a dream poem, and a poem more for adults. Pink evening (or morning) light on snow is especially dreamy, isn't it?

A Dream of Winter

up the curved path
between steadfast trees

yellow house holds
a dazzle of winters

we fold ourselves
into sinking pink light
into each other

at first cold cool
soon warm warm

as the windows
swallow January's
shy sun

and winter
strips us bare
of all the glittering
meaningless things

and brings us
back to the miracle
of drift

- Irene Latham