Friday, March 12, 2021

"Why River Smiles in Winter" poem

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Heidi at my juicy little universe for Roundup. I'm excited to be presenting this weekend as part of Michigan Reading Association's annual conference and look forward to sharing about the impact of nature on my life, and about dog stories! 

I've been reading a lot of marvelous middle grade novels lately: Fly Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly, Alone by Megan E. Freeman, The Sea in Winter by Christine Day, The Lion of Mars by Jennifer L. Holm, Just Like That by Gary D. Schmidt, and Gone to the Woods by Gary Paulsen.

I am a huge fan of Gary Paulsen's books, and my $2 book review (10 cents per word!) is this: Memoir about finding solace in the woods and a future in books despite a heartbreaking childhood punctuated by beautiful moments.

Unlike most first-person memoirs, this one is told in the 3rd person, about "the boy" who is seldom named—which creates an interesting distance. I realized I'd never before heard Gary's actual voice (only in my head) when I listened to The Yarn podcast featuring Gary. Colby Sharp did such a great job with this interview just hanging back and letting Gary shower us with wisdom... beautiful, and it made me misty-eyed more than once!

Today's ArtSpeak: FOUR SEASONS offering has me a little giddy, because we're getting so close to spring! Just one more winter poem to go!

Why River Smiles in Winter

snow offers itself

to leaf and limb,
post and rail.

It blows kisses
to each and every
blade of grass.

Whether it's bound
to pile up
and stay a while

or get gulped
by a hungry current

snow is fair.

- Irene Latham


  1. Wonderful winter poem! Snow, the great equalizer. I see it. I'm so enjoying the fast flip to spring here. Even though the pollen is turning up in buckets, the warm air and sunshine make me happy. I'm seeing lots of tree friends, the leaves, are coming back. I've waited so long to see them! Yipee!

  2. I am always taken with your word choice in poems and this one gives me gulped in a new way that is so fun to consider. (Margaret Simon, my school account makes me anonymous;)

  3. Lovely! (And here comes spring!) xo

  4. We have big snow coming all the weekend, and welcome the moisture although this storm is bigger and will shut things down. I like the way you look at the different ways it really helps, but the ending is so intriguing, "fair" from all those viewpoints, but wondering about different humans? I just got Gary Paulsen's book, am excited to read it. I loved Schmidt's Just Like That!

  5. Snow IS fair! I didn't know there was a new Gary D. Schmidt book - I will have to look for it! I hadn't read much Gary Paulsen until this school year when I was tasked with teaching Hatchet to my eighth graders. I liked it so much that I read the whole series.

  6. Ohhh, it's the Meryl Lee book! I have been waiting for it for so long! Yay!

  7. I recently heard a talk Gary Paulsen gave on his book "Gone to the Woods–" he gave it in his cabin, and brought us right there with him. His books always capture me from beginning to end. Lovely image with "leaf and limb,
    post and rail." And now I'm looking forward to Spring!

  8. Snow is equitable. I love that. When we have the beautiful hush of snow covering our world, our neighborhood, it does inspire thoughts about how it doesn't care where it's falling, what section of town it's in, etc. It just is. It's just beautiful...

  9. Irene, those first two stanzas are glorious in the *uiet way that snow lands everywhere. I see that river smiling. Thanks also for the Gary Paulsen review and your list of marvelous reads. My reading days are returning, slowly, like the spring.

  10. I love the last line, "snow is fair." Thanks for the book recommendations, too.

  11. Lovely image of snow piling up and being gulped. I am looking for signs of spring--they are coming fast now.

  12. This Spring seems parTICularly welcome, doesn't it? Thank you for this fulsome post and your own poem about impartial snow. Perfect!

  13. Several groups chose this poem from your padlet for Poetry Friday this week, and we wondered about the title. We were thinking the river is smiling a kind of sneaky, greedy smile, since it is gulping the fair snow. We would love to know why you chose that title!

    And as for Gary Paulsen's new book -- I finished it yesterday morning all in a gulp, with tears running down my face multiple times. I really do need to go listen to that podcast...

  14. I love your take on snow and how"It blows kisses
    to each and every
    blade of grass." I'm also delighted by your list of book recommendations. Gary D. Schmidt is a favorite of mine. I'm off to add most of these to my "some day I'll buy" list of books.


Your thoughts?