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


  1. Yay! I love your new theme. And, even though a poem might not be about animals...animals bring us to the poem. They do this in real life too. Animals bring us to emotion and beauty and relationships. What a great theme. There's so much there!
    If you haven't seen this Story Storm blog post, I recommend it. It reminded me of your advice about asking a work of art to let a writer know what it wants told about it.
    Happy writing! I'm off to FLY into another snow day. Lucky me!

  2. Congratulations on Africa Town! I was hoping my copy would be waiting for me when I got home yesterday, but alas, I have to be patient for another day or two.
    I love your ArtSpeak theme, Irene, and especially appreciate the birds in your logo and today's poem. Although 2021 was a difficult year, there were also many happy moments that I will remember with gratitude. Thank you for always being so generous with your warm wisdom.

  3. Many kudos for your wonderfully satisfying week! Amazing. Also, I love the art poem... I'm going to check out wikiart as I love ekphrastic challenges. Thanks so much.

  4. Congrats, my dear friend, to you and Charles on a wonderful way to start the year - what an important, rich book I'm looking forward to reading. And YAY for the way the wind has blown you into starting your ARTSPEAK adventures this year - just lovely!XOXO

  5. Irene, I wish you and Charles many more encounters face to face so you can expand your remarkable talents. Congratulations on Africa Town. I look forward to hearing more about it. Are you having a blog tour for it? I would gladly read the book and review it on my blog. As for your ArtSpeak theme-it is a new look into your inspirational thoughts. Thanks for this one to start the year off.

  6. I have my copy, but may wait a little while because of all those poetry books I need to read for the Cybil's, but I did peek at the start! After your interview, I know I'll love it. Congrats to you & Charles! I'm loving your first poem, a "slow down then rush" into the new year feels like good advice. And "hurtle" feels like we all do really. There's no stopping unless one takes a quiet moment to "look back". Happy New Year!

  7. Congratulations on African Town. I can't wait to receive my copy. Your Artspeak poems are such a gift. This first one is just right for the new year, look back then fly!

  8. Flap, focus, do them all with such balance, Irene. Congrats on all the notice for AFRICAN TOWN--it's like a missing link in the evolution of Black history. It seems important, even for grown-up, experienced writers, to remember that ekphrastic animal poems might not be about the animals; that our springboards work best when they are a little off-center (unlike for Olympic divers). Happy New Animal Year!

  9. Yay for your 2022 Artspeak theme - animals! We're on the same wavelength...uh, well, I have the singular focus of pictures of one naughty dog, but she is an animal!
    Yay for sharing AFRICAN TOWN with the world, your book launch activities and being IN THE ROOM with Charles!
    And finally, yay for "flap, focus, FLY"! You always inspire me, Irene. :)

  10. This is a great project, one that can be as endless as the number of art works available to you! I think this poem is lovely, with the pause toward the past and then a swift and energetic moving on. Maybe to a new year?

  11. I love this first Artspeak poem—and look forward to all the future animal-themed art and how you will go beyond the frame. Visual art is such a wonderful "prompt" for my own poetry; it seems to click open a door that may never have otherwise been known. Also—looking forward to the new Latham/Waters AFRICAN TOWN! Ordering now...

  12. Looking forward to reading AFRICAN TOWN! Congratulations! I love your theme for the year, and this first poem is amazing!

  13. A whole cast! That's very special.
    Have fun with your animals! When you want something unusual, check out His are all public domain :)

  14. Steep winds and unknown currents- Yes! Feels a lot like the start of my new year. Looking forward to your animal art poems.

  15. I LOVE the new theme and wish like crazy I had a classroom full of poet-readers with whom to follow your journey!!

  16. What a great new theme! Your first poem feels like a perfect fit as we head into a new year. Your reminder that an initial prompt may lead you into unexpected directions really resonated. (I've been talking about this a bit with some fellow writers lately.) I'm so excited to follow along on your journey and am delighted with your happy publication news. Congratulations!

  17. I love animals and can't wait to see what you do with them! And maybe pd art means publication in a book is a future possibility?! Congrats to you and Charles! I have the audiobook and will start it as soon as I finish A PLACE AT THE TABLE. I'm excited to be moved, engrossed, and educated.


Your thoughts?