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


  1. Good Morning! Congratulations on a Caldecott Honor for The Cat Man of Aleppo. I squealed when I heard the title announced. Yes, in my "office" in my bedroom where my feline office assistant startled a bit before purring himself back to sleep.
    I appreciate Heidi's question and your response. I have wondered about "holding poems back" for publication. But, at the moment, more than publication I want to grow as a poet and enjoy the writing. I love the increase in volume I've been able to write during this time. I've started a padlet in the style that you showed us for poems. And, it would be such a joy to share that with students someday....for the poems but also for the process of growth. So, yes. Your post makes sense. Now, I need to dress like a red velvet cake to go into my school building for a day of book weeding. This is an activity that I sincerely love. I get to be lost in my thoughts in the shelves of books. Sweet!

  2. Congratulations, my sweet friend! 💕
    I like the tasty analogy. I am actually sitting here with one boot on because I just got back inside. Getting out of all of the layers is work :-)

  3. Irene, congratulations! I was so excited for you last night when I was editing my ALA Awards list. Thank you to Heidi for the question and thank you for your answer. I also wondered if you were publishing some of your Art Speak poetry. I so appreciate your poems because I am enjoying them and learning from them. I'm happy for you that you are able to teach art poem workshops. I taught a poetry enrichment class for eleven summers. I had the students illustrate their own poems and at the end of the session they made them into books, which they shared in class with their families. It was joy and I miss teaching it.

    I love your pairing of the little girl in her red hat with your fun poem! It reminds me of when I would dress my girls in layers to go out and enjoy the snow. Thank you!

  4. Hooray, Hooray Irene, I was delighted to hear the news about your Caldecott, how FANTASTIC!!! Thanks for your delicious layered poem, and gorgeous Mary Cassatt painting. Sometimes I think as I'm layering up, I spend almost as much time layering as walking…

  5. Red velvet cake is such a perfect image. LOVE! And congratulations on the MUCH-deserved recognition. Thanks for what an inspiration you are to so many.

  6. Irene, You add such beauty to this world with your words, ideas, and gracious spirit. Congrats to you for the recognition, and kudos to those who have eyes to recognize the value of your work. I love the ArtSpeak idea and the delicious poem you shared. You make the world a better place.


Your thoughts?