Friday, December 31, 2021

Map to a New Year (poem)

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit for Carol's Corner for Roundup.

Many of us in this community select One Little Word as a muse, guide, touchstone for the year. My word for 2021 was "Bewilderment," and I reflected on my experience with the word in my most recent Adventures in Ink newsletter. Read it here.

For 2022 I've selected the word WHIMSY.

According to my research, whimsy is something unusual, unexpected, fanciful, playful. I found it in a magazine recently (in photo!), and I read Mary Oliver admonishing herself to be more whimsical in her book of essays Upstream. I also read that the Mona Lisa may have, in fact, been Leonardo's most famous moment of whimsy. Art historians think perhaps he created that face with that smile for his own amusement. (Cool, yes?) The pencil in the photo to the left contains a quote from Little Women: "I like good strong words that mean something." :)

Combine all that with the fact that for years Paul has shaken his head at my sometimes "impetuous" behavior. It's true, I've been known to do things without thinking them through all the way—"on a whim"—and this has sometimes led to heartbreak, disappointment, and tough moments!

But other times my impetuousness has led to some really beautiful moments. And that's what I'm opening myself to this year. Bring on the unexpected, unusual, fanciful, and playful!  

I look forward to reading about everyone else's new One Little Word.

Today marks the last poem of my 2021 ArtSpeak: FOUR SEASONS project. What fun I've had writing through the seasons! I did get a little weary by the end of each season, though... I was ready to move on before the calendar said it was time to do so! (This *might* be a running theme in my life. :) View the entire collection on padlet. And come back next week to see what theme I've chosen for 2022! (I've waffled and waffled, but I think I'm all set now. We'll see!)

Today's poem is inspired by a Mary Cassatt piece that totally makes me think of my sister, and how very grateful I am to have her. We've had some grand adventures over the years!

Map to a New Year

Sometimes it takes two
to find the just-right route.

Mountains insurmountable
by one

yield sweeping vistas
when climbed together.

If we come to a river
too deep, too long—
we'll clasp each other's hands.

Roads will likely stretch,

Some days you will carry me;
other days I will carry you.

- Irene Latham

Friday, December 24, 2021

Christmas Eve Poem

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit (brilliant) Buffy Silverman for Roundup.

Lo and behold, it's Christmas Eve! We've just returned from the Florida Keys, where we were unexpectedly blasted into the holiday spirit by all the decorations, island-style.

It got me thinking about how this is my almost last ArtSpeak: FOUR SEASONS poem, and is there such a thing as famous Christmas art? Well, yes there is! I found a wonderment by Henri Matisse, which inspired today's poem. And I also discovered famous paintings altered to include Christmas images... like this Starry Santa Night:

 and this Santa stringing lights on one of Monet's bridges:

Fun, yes? Click here to see Santa visiting other famous artworks. 

Other island-y thoughts include some ruminations on my 2021 One Little Word BEWILDERMENT. My intention with this word was to abandon cleverness, which is of the mind, and exist instead in mystery, which is of the soul. 

It's definitely been a year of questions, and as a result discovery. I've tried all sorts of new-to-me things this year (part of my 50 Firsts upon turning 50). I've made some dramatic shifts in my priorities and goals. And I find myself here at the end of the year is a place I never could have anticipated...on the brink of I-don't-know-what! 

No need to worry... it's ALL GOOD. As Bob Ross said, "there are no mistakes, just happy accidents." By letting my soul lead, I feel I'm experiencing life and writing and relationships in a deep and fulfulling way. I'm excited to see what 2022 brings...and I know my just-right 2022 OLW to appear to me in the coming days.

And now, this week's poem. Thank you so much for reading. Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve

Stars sing,

Rivers breathe,

Mountains hum,

You whisper,
I believe

- Irene Latham

Friday, December 17, 2021

Poem for Lydia

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Jone Rush MacCulloch for Roundup.

I'm out adventuring this week, but I did take some time to write a very last autumn poem for my ArtSpeak: FOUR SEASONS! (Two more "winter" poems, and I'll be wrapping up this celebrate-the-seasons year!)

A small note about today's poem: When I saw that the artist's subject was named Lydia, I had to smile. Years ago, a dear friend suggested that if my name wasn't Irene, it would be Claire... or Lydia. 

I picked Lydia! So it was fun to find this name on the piece of art...and to write the poem as if I was writing it to an alternate me. Thank you so much for reading!

For Lydia

when they said,
you cannot carry

you said,
watch me

when they said,
winter will
swallow you

your cheeks
turned still
as moonlight

when they said,
go home
and wait for spring

a leafstorm swirled
in your heart

and in each dark eye
a tiny bonfire

- Irene Latham

Friday, December 10, 2021

Autumn Love Song

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Cathy at Merely Day by Day for Roundup.

This week I took my final exam in art history, and I got my Master Gardener certificate! I learned SO MUCH this fall, but goodness, I'm ready for a break...

Also, I visited my mom (in north Florida), and a highlight was picking grapefruit. (I love grapefruit!) 

In even more exciting news, tomorrow our youngest son graduates with his degree in computer science...with a 4.0 (!) for his college career and a job in his pocket! Good times.

Today's ArtSpeak: FOUR SEASONS poem is a love poem. Every season is good for love! Thank you so much for reading.

Autumn Love Song

I want to fold into you
the way blazing maple
floods curving stream

I want to fold into you—
you who blaze
and curve and flood

as if there's
no such season
as winter

- Irene Latham

Thursday, December 9, 2021

9th of the Month Homeschool Poetry Party! (Christmas Edition)

Hello Homeschool Families, and welcome to this month's Poetry Party! I'm so glad you're here.

The Homeschool Poetry Party happens here at Live Your Poem every 9th of the month (in honor of nonet poems!)

Shout-out to the Johnson family who left beautiful poems on our Homeschool Poetry Party padlet... poems about fishing and cooking and being a good person

What better time than a holiday to read—or write!—a poem? From Elephant Appreciation Day to Hot Dog Day, you can find some fun way to celebrate every day of the year. Here's a book full of fun poems for lots of holidays from different faith traditions and cultures—some silly, some serious—all wonderful! Check out The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations compiled by Sylvia Vardell & Janet Wong.

Here at Casa Latham, we celebrate Christmas, and there's one poetry book we turn to most often during this time of year:

 MANGER, edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins with illus. by Helen Cann. It includes poems from the animals' perspectives on the Nativity story...and there are some surprises—a llama! Fish! Spider!

The first time I read the book, I realized all the living creatures had poems, but what about the manger? What did it think/feel about what was happening that special night? And so I wrote this poem:

by Irene Latham

I am but simple timber,
stripped of bark
and fastened by nails,
softened by a fluff of hay.

But I can show you
the strength of a forest,
the hope of water
and the resurrection of light.

Each day your hands will grow.
May they fashion a world
where even the most unloveable
are loved.

Now I invite you to write a Christmas poem about the Nativity story, but from a particular point of view. 

Maybe it's a poem from one of the animals (or a favorite animal you imagine was at the Nativity scene), or maybe it's voiced by an inanimate object: what would the pitchfork say, or the myrrh? What would the barn say, or the sky? 

Your job is to be that animal or object when you are writing the poem. This is called a "persona" or "mask" poem.

To write this kind of poem, it helps to ask your animal/object some questions like the ones below. Be sure to write down your answers.

When you are that animal or object, what do you see, hear, taste, touch, smell? 

What's your "job" in the story? 

How can you help (or hurt) the scene? 

What's your secret?
What matters most to you about the scene? 

Once you have your answers on paper, read back through them. Share them with a family member. Which ones are the most vivid, surprising or interesting? Which answers make you or a reader smile or sigh? Put those bits in your poem right away! 

 If you'd like to share your poem with this community, please post to padlet here. I can't wait to read them!

And now, may I ask a big favor? If you enjoyed our celebration today, would you please share it with another homeschool family who might also benefit? Poetry is for EVERYONE! 

I've prepared a free foldable zine filled with forest critters sharing what peace means to them in short poems—perfect for sharing during the Christmas season. Get yours now!

Thanks so much for sharing the celebration today. Merry Christmas! See you next month... as we ring in 2022!

Friday, December 3, 2021

An Anti-Autumn Poem

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Michelle Kogan for Roundup.

This week's 2-Minute Writing Tip is all about writers and social media/self-promotion. I had so much to share on the topic that I went over by 24 seconds. 😂

Over at Smack Dab in the Middle, I wrote about how, for writers, there's no such thing as the road not taken.

Reviews are coming in for AFRICAN TOWN, and this one's a ⭐ from School Library Connection!

"The voice of the characters is strong and... the journey itself is not to be missed."

and another ⭐ from Booklist. :)

"African Town is a compelling novel that doubles as an important historic document, invaluable for both classroom use and independent reading."

For this weeks Artspeak: FOUR SEASONS poem, I wanted to steer away from all the wonderful things about fall and instead write an ANTI-Autumn poem.

 It helped that I was feeling really frustrated about something tech-related, and I found this great piece of art in my "Fall" file. :) Thank you so much for reading.

Today I'm Feeling Autumn

I have no sunshine
to share with you—

only wind, wet,
and chill.

All my skies
are smocked
in shades of grey.

or don't.

I have no sunshine
to share with you today.

- Irene Latham