Friday, September 24, 2021


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

It's my pleasure today to congratulate June Cotner, Nancy Tupper Ling, and Helen Cann for their newly released poetry anthology

FOR EVERY LITTLE THING: POEMS AND PRAYERS TO CELEBRATE THE DAY (Eerdman's).  I'm always excited for a new poetry anthology, and this one is a beauty. I especially enjoyed seeing poems by our Poetry Friday friends Michelle H. Barnes and Charles Ghigna. Congratulations to all!

And now please welcome poet-friend-editor Nancy Tupper Ling, who stopped by to respond to a few prompts. Welcome, Nancy!

The delicious

Nancy Tupper Ling

As an author who can barely draw a stick figure, I find “the delicious” to be that moment when I receive the first sketch or two from the illustrator. In the case of FOR EVERY LITTLE THING, this happened when June Cotner and I got a sneak peak at a few of Helen Cann’s sketches, including the “Nightfall” chapter and a full-page spread, which reflected all four seasons in one glorious tree. Ultimately, the tree was paired with a poem by Jill Noblit MacGregor called "Simple Graces" and it is stunning (shown below!), That experience was as delicious as picking the first Empire apple in a New England fall. Ah!

IL: Have I ever had an Empire apple?! I don't think so! Must remedy. And as a long-time fan of June Cotner's thoughtful anthologies for the adult market, I'm just delighted about this partnership! And wow, when I popped on Nancy Cann's website, I fell in love with her maps. Go see!

The difficult

NTL: As an anthologist, I know you’ve experienced this too, Irene, but it’s always hard to let go of a poem that is beautiful. For some reason it doesn’t fit with the collection. This could be because there are too many similar poems on one spread, or because the poem itself is a bit too long. Often, we work with our contributors on a revision if it can make their poem stronger. Still, there are other times when we must say goodbye to a perfectly wonderful poem. That said, that very poem might be perfect for another anthology down the road.

IL: Yes! SO DIFFICULT to say goodbye to some poems. I want to keep them ALL. Alas...

The surprising

That there is a World Gratitude Day (September 21st)! Who knew? And that FOR EVERY LITTLE THING launches on this very day is a perfect fit. When June and I first put a proposal together for our book, gratitude was at the heart of it. Our hope was to foster “appreciation for the small and big gifts of the world,” and by journeying through a child’s day, from waking up to falling asleep, our selected poems and prayers will awaken a sense of gratitude in readers of all ages.

IL: Another "gratitude" poetry anthology to pair with this one: THANKU: POEMS OF GRATITUDE selected by Miranda Paul, illus. by Marlena Myles.

Anything else

NTL: Yes, some very good news! Back in January, I left my position as a librarian at Morrill Memorial Library (after 10 years) so that I could devote more time to my writing. I wanted to give myself a full year to pursue this dream, even though it seemed quite risky with two daughters in college. Well, guess what? As announced in Publisher's Marketplace, June and I recently sold another children’s anthology entitled BLESS THE EARTH: A CHILDREN'S BOOK OF PRAYERS AND POEMS FOR HONORING THE EARTH to Keren Baltzer at Convergent/Penguin, thanks to our agent, Anne Marie O’Farrell at Marcil-O’Farrell Literary (world). Also, FOR EVERY LITTLE THING became a Gold Standard Selection, as awarded by the Junior Library Guild. Turns out, it was a risk worth taking!

IL: YAY for all this happy news! Yay for risk-taking, and for poetry reaching more children and families!!

illustration by Nancy Cann

Simple Graces

Simple graces are everywhere.
under rocks and in the air—
in crashing waves and tall, tall trees,
simple graces for all to see.

Simple graces are near and far,
the sun, the moon, and twinkling stars—
refreshing rain, the air we breathe,
God made every one of these.

Yes, simple graces are everywhere,
in everything, here and there—
summer, fall, winter, spring,
simple graces in everything.

- Jill Noblit MacGregor

Learn more about this lovely book at other stops on the blog tour:

And yes, I have an ArtSpeak: FOUR SEASONS poem for you! It's the first "Autumn" poem of this series. Thank you so much for reading.

Then Sings My Soul

clothe yourself
as maples do,
in burnished gold

rest and reflect—
a puddle after rain

welcome the child's boots
as a way to give yourself
to the world

and when it is done,
gather light
in your damp hands,

let yourself

- Irene Latham

...and... welcome to my first-ever fun quiz! (This was SO MUCH FUN to create. Go ahead, give it a go!)

Friday, September 17, 2021

End of Summer (poem)

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Denise at Dare to Care for Roundup.

Thank you for all the well wishes for my mom's 75th birthday party! We had a wonderful time, and my mom was practically floating the entire day. Here's a pic with me and my youngest (5 months old) great-niece. Isn't she adorable??

Introvert that I am, it's taken me most of the week to recover from the party. (I know some of you will know exactly what I'm talking about!)

Good news: The first review of WILD PEACE (coming October 19) is in! Here's a pull-quote selected by my lovely editorial team:

"A meditative exploration of the peace that exists in the communion between humans and nature."Kirkus

I'm excited to share more about this book in the coming weeks, as it's my first picture book that's one long poem featuring lots of woodland animals... and it clocks in at a spare 150 words! It's got a gentle goodnight-moon kind of vibe to it, which I think will make for some sweet reading time.

On the ArtSpeak: FOUR SEASONS front, this poem marks the end of summer. YAY! Bring on the pumpkins and falling leaves, because I am ready to write some fall poems... how 'bout you?

End of Summer

Morning's breath
turns sweet

as cool air
creeps between trees,

fills weary fields
and fallows.

Sun, too, softens,
trading glare

for twinkle.
We stow the boat,

store the hummingbird
feeder, grateful for

safe passage
between seasons—

for light
for light
for light.

- Irene Latham

Friday, September 10, 2021

A Poppy Day (poem)

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

Football season is here, which is happy-making in these parts. Some leaves are already turning, and the mornings air has dried and cooled—so we don't return from our walk quite so wet and bedraggled!

I'm learning in my gardening class that the reason so many of my plants don't thrive, is because I'm planting the wrong ones! (Our yard falls into the part-shade to all-shade categories.)

In art history we are studying ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. I've had about 15 billion ideas for children's books!

And this is the weekend of my mom's big 75 party, so when you read this, I will likely be either baking a Coca-cola cake (one of my mom's favorites) OR...even better!... eating it!

My ArtSpeak: FOUR SEASONS poem for this week went through several metamorphoses before I landed with this poem that includes a mother, freedom, and some wistfulness, too. (Truly, I will be glad to leave behind the Summer poems and write some Fall ones. One more Summer poem to go!) Thank you for reading!

A Poppy Day

Mother says the poppy field
is more than just
happy blossoms;
it's a jungle of bees,
ants, and grasshoppers.

Explore, she urges.
But not too far.
She paces along the narrow 
path, her parasol painting
shadows on her face.

We buzz—drunk on heat
and freedom—fall into our lives,
a flurry of feet and secrets.

May we forever remember 
this day: Mother watching,
and summer's
                  surprise bouquet.

- Irene Latham

Friday, September 3, 2021

The Truth About Sunflowers (poem)

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure and visit Heidi at my juicy little universe for Roundup.

First: I have to tell you about a beautiful book, INTO THE LIGHT by Jeff Zentner. It's a love poem to nature and poetry and friendship and love(!) and grandparents. Kind of old-fashioned, and partly set in Tennessee. Here's a quick quote.

“Every hurt, every sorrow, every scar has brought you here. Poetry lets us turn pain into fire by which to warm ourselves. Go build a fire.” - Jeff Zentner, Into the Wild Light

Please stop over at Smack Dab in the Middle to read my post about How to Mine Your Childhood for Story. (Artist's Way friends: you'll remember some of our work together!)

I've been thinking about how I can apply to upcoming teaching THE ANTI-RACIST WRITING WORKSHOP training through Highlights Foundation. 

Something funny: I just looked for the file I started on my computer, and I accidentally titled it "The Anti Writing Workshop," which is quite a different thing. :)

This year on Saturday, September 18, I'm part of the virtual nErDcampGA. Sign up for my "Experience the Transformative Power of Poetry" session and other great sessions FREE! 

Today's ArtSpeak: FOUR SEASONS turned out to be more for the adults among us than the children. While I intend this series for children, I've learned not to fight it when a renegade adult poem pops up! Thanks so much for reading.

The Truth about Sunflowers

By September
their blazing faces
          drop seeds.

Petals and stalks

You, too, will fade.

Your body will
become something

- Irene Latham