Thursday, January 27, 2022

A Little Patience for Poetry Friday Roundup!

Hello and welcome to Poetry Friday! Roundup is HERE! Please leave your links below.

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Before I get to my post, here's an event invitation for you!

And some good news from the ALA Youth Media Awards... D-39:A Robodog's Journey was named to the Sci-Fi Notables List, more officially, The Eleanor Cameron Notable Middle Grade Books List. Hooray for Klynt & D-39! So many thanks to the committee for this recognition. 💜

I've been thinking about patience—and how hard it is! Also about how yes, we need patience... but we also need a bit of impatience to accomplish our dreams. 

Sometimes we need to wait less, think less—and DO more. 

Other times we need to hard-stop DOing and simply rest—BE.

Sorry, I have no answers for when to do which! But doesn't it help to know this is something we ALL struggle with?

Poems help, too. Here's a few patience poems for you.


Teach me your mood, O patient stars!
by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Teach me your mood, O patient stars!
Who climb each night the ancient sky,
Leaving no space no shade, no scars,
No trace of age, no fear to die.


Ode to a Maintenance Man and His Family
by Kay Boyle

Renato O. Jones, you maintain my beliefs
And service my thoughts when they cease to function.
You repair the ailing equipage of the present, transform
The past into flowers around the shuffle-board court
Where there were none before. You speak
The melodious languages of countries that bask
In the sun, employ vacuum respirator as though
It were rod or staff from the garden of Paradise.

You anoint windowpanes with Windex and kneel
In concern for stains on the carpeting,
As men knelt in ancient cathedrals where their voices
Murmured in prayer. You restore me with dance-steps
From harbors you knew: Shanghai, Marseilles, Trinidad,
And how many others. The songs that you sing
(As you unclog drains or retrieve lights when bulbs
flicker and fail or weave copper patches into the webs
Of damaged screen doors) are magical with the music
Of names of your family: Carmelita, Christopher, Dissere,
Alex and Mark, and Keven and Kenneth and Kerwin.

Each day you say to me - not in words but in the eloquence 
Of your presence - that infinite patience with mankind is everything.

I found this poem in my (1996) copy of THE GIFT OF TONGUES, a beautiful anthology from Copper Canyon Press. More about Kay Boyle here.


"Patience" by Marilyn Singer —posted here at Live Your Poem a few years ago! It expresses so well one of the reasons I love mountain (lake) life!

...and finally, my latest ArtSpeak: ANIMALS poem continues the theme set forth in "Courage Has Four Feet" and "Wisdom Has Wide Eyes."

Today's piece features a turtle dove as depicted by Chinese Ming Dynasty artist Shen Zhou

Words that come up a lot about Shen Zhou's landscapes, flowers, and other works are "reverent" and "gentle." I find his work both those things and would add: "warm" and "calming." His work definitely inspires patience in me. Thank you so much for reading!

Patience Has a Soft Voice

it hums across
dusty summer

long, searing season
with a whisper-gentle song


drowsy clouds

sky-door opens—



- Irene Latham

Friday, January 21, 2022

Wisdom Has Wide Eyes (poem)

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference for Roundup.

I'm super-excited about Wild & Precious Writer, the digital course I'll be launching next month! Gratitude to those who have joined me as Founding Members...I'm so grateful for your enthusiasm and support... and your devotion to your writing life. Beautiful!

And if you don't know what I'm talking about, read this post...and go here to subscribe to my email list so that you don't miss out on all the goodness that's coming. :) (Founding Member offer was made through my email list.)

Today's poem is a companion piece to last week's "Courage Has Four Feet." Perhaps this is a theme I'll revisit during this year of ArtSpeak: Animals? We'll see! Meanwhile, enjoy Dürer's Little Owl from way back in the Northern Renaissance, when "animal paintings" became a genre of art. 

Like Leonardo da Vinci, Dürer aimed to be precise and often used real (stuffed) specimens as models for his work. At the time, these pieces were considered more "craft" than "art." I'm kind of in love with them and will be featuring quite a few of Dürer's animals this year. :) 

Here's a quote that celebrates the beauty of what's "real," the idea that governed these artists' work:

"Nature holds the beautiful, for the artist who has the insight to extract it. Thus, beauty lies even in humble, perhaps ugly things, and the ideal, which bypasses or improves on nature, may not be truly beautiful in the end." - Albrecht Dürer

Something to think about as we write our poems: what makes them beautiful?

Thank you so much for reading!

Wisdom Has Wide Eyes

it blends in,

listens to starshimmer,
studies canopies
and knotholes

stays awake
across cruelest hours
to hunt

for meaning

once seen,
the sky cannot be

- Irene Latham

Friday, January 14, 2022

Courage Has Four Feet (poem)

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure and visit Mary Lee at A(nother) Year of Reading for Roundup.

Today's ArtSpeak: Animals poem is inspired by one of Leonardo da Vinci's drawings. I so appreciate his desire for accuracy, and how his studies and drawings were an essential part of the process. 

I think we writers do our own versions of this as we research and draft and cut and try again! 

In fact, the Private Eye method (which I've shared about many times and continue to practice!) is equally as concerned with finding the right words as it is about drawing in exquisite detail what you see in the jeweler's loupe. It's such a great practice for writers... if you haven't tried it, I hope you will!

And here's a quote to consider...although please don't use it as an excuse to stay in research mode some point, one must simply WRITE the thing! (Ahem. Writing these words as much for myself as anyone!)

"For verily, great love springs from great knowledge of the beloved object, and if you little know it, you will be able to love it only a little or not at all." - Leonardo da Vinci

And now, my poem! Thank you so much for reading.

Courage Has Four Feet

sometimes it wakes

a bear summoned
by snowmelt

it shuffles
into a greening wood
thunder in its throat
lightning it its eyes

beneath each
wobbly step

- Irene Latham

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Homeschool Poetry Party! (For the Love of Words)

 Hello and welcome to your every-9th-of-the-Month Homeschool Poetry Party!

I love words. Don't you? I love the way they taste and how they feel rolling around in my mouth.

Dictionaries? Yes!

Thesauruses? Delicious!

Books celebrating words? YUM!

(Future Word Nerds are sure to enjoy ABSURB WORDS by Tara Lazar!)

And sometimes (okay, A LOT of times, I like to invent words.

Have you ever invented a word?

Poetry is a great place to put your invented words! Do you know the poem “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll? It contains quite a few invented words.

Here are three invented words in the poem:

1. Jabberwocky – yes, the title of the poem is an invented word! It's a noun (person, place, or thing).

Right now, before we go on, draw a picture of what you think a “jabberwocky” might be.

2. Frabjous – this word is used as an adjective, which means it describes something... “O frabjous day!”

Before you read the poem, what kind of day do you think a “frabjous” day would be like? Happy, sad, windy, hot, winter, spring? Write down a few synonyms.

3. Whiffling – this word is used as a verb, which means it's an action.

Describe the kind of action you imagine a “whiffle” or “whiffling” to be. Is it like “sleep” or “sleeping” or like “run” or “running”? Or something else entirely?

Now here's the poem.


by Lewis Carroll

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

'Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!'

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood a while in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One two! One two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

'And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.


Did your guesses match the poem? Do your definitions “fit”?

Whether they did or not, the great news is that you, too, can write a poem with invented words! 

I invented A LOT of words for my book D-39: A Robodog's Journey.

For those new to the Homeschool Poetry Party, you're invited to join the mailing list and download an Invent-Your-Own-Word worksheet. 

I suggest you invent at least 3 words: one noun, one adjective, and one verb.

Once you've invented a few words, try placing them in a poem! Maybe your poem will be a story-poem like “Jabberwocky.” Maybe it will be about an imaginary creature... or a robodog! Or something else. It's up to you!

You're invited to share your poem on our community Poetry Party padlet.

Coming next month: an exciting announcement about a Poetry Party LIVE virtual event, and you're all invited! If you're not already on the mailing list, be sure to join so you don't miss anything.

Friday, January 7, 2022

Welcome to 2022 ArtSpeak: Animals!


Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Carol at Beyond Literacy Link for Roundup.

It's been an exciting week here at Live Your Poem... AFRICAN TOWN, my latest project with Charles Waters, released this past Tuesday. (There's also an audio version with a whole cast to represent the 14 voices, and when I listened to the first few poems, it made me cry. Beautifully done!)

Celebrations have included:

 an interview on NPR Weekend 

a live book launch at Alabama Booksmith, during which we signed 260 books! The best part was Charles and I got to hang out in person for the first time in 2 years. :)

And... it's the start of a new ArtSpeak year! I've selected "Animals" as my theme. I'll be featuring public domain art found on

When I sat down to write my poem this week, I realized that just because the art features an animal, it doesn't necessarily mean my poem will be *about* the animal.

I am always looking for unique angles, what's outside the frame... and listening for what the art is trying to tell me. So who knows what kind of poems I'll be writing this year?? I can't wait to find out. :)

Here's today's poem. Thanks so much for reading.

When a steep wind sends you sailing over treetops

as you hurtle
into unknown

take a moment

a single windblown

to look back
on what was

and then—

- Irene Latham