Friday, March 25, 2022

Empathy Has Long Ears (poem)

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Amy at The Poem Farm for Roundup. Amy has a new book If This Bird Had Pockets that I haven't read yet, but am very much looking forward to!

It's always exciting to read books written by those in our community. This week it was my delight to read two: What Snail Knows by Kathryn Apel and Hidden Powers: Lise Meitner's Call to Science by Jeannine Atkins.

Both are verse novels. Both feature girls who are shy and who bust through limitations to achieve important things.

In What Snail Knows, I instantly related to in-her-shell, always-moving Lucy. I also felt like I knew her don't-need-anyone dad. And I LOVED how playful Kat was with language and shape in the poems! (In the very first poem there's text in the shape of a number 2! (There's also a car-shaped poem, and a snail-shaped one... AND then there's wordplay, like this poem, which happens when the class is helping the environment by participating in an organized catch of an invasive toad species:

We Loop

We group.

    We troop.

        We swoop.

              We scoop.

                  We whoop!

We nab a knot

          ( a lot!)

of toads.

- Kathryn Apel

Yes, a group of toads is called a knot! (New to me -- I love learning things in books!)

This book reminded me of what's possible for our young age 6-7 readers. Lovely! Don't miss it!

Turning now to Hidden Powers. As a book collaborator, I was drawn to Lise and her collaboration with Otto...and how they hang out with Einstein and the Curies. The story behind the discovery and development of the atomic bomb is fascinating. And Jeannine is brilliant at painting her characters as real, full-fleshed out individuals. And this book really shows the struggle women experience, particularly in male-dominated fields. I always enjoy Jeannine's fresh, beautiful figurative language, like:

"She runs her hand over her mother's hair,

wrinkled and gray like a lake in a storm."

Jeannine reminds us the power of verbs in poetry, like here:

"Lise crushes the newspaper, tosses it into the hearth.

The paper flares, darkens, and shivers into ash."

and Jeannine shows us the elegance and emotional truth that poetry offers:

"She won't wish that she didn't discover

what she discovered. But she wishes everyone

would try to see as if by the light of two candles:

one calling to witness, one to remember."

Thanks to both for these beautiful books!

Gratitude also to Saemi for including Live Your Poem alongside some other wonderful poetry blogs for children. View the post of recommendations on Twinkl!


For today's ArtSpeak: Animals poem, I decided to go with a rabbit! (Hoppy Spring!) It took me a while to find the character trait I wanted to use for the metaphor, but when I did, if felt just-right. I love when that happens. :) Thanks so much for reading.

Empathy Has Long Ears

always soft,

with veins
of understanding

both radar
and weathervane


I'm here
I hear you

are the song
I sing

- Irene Latham

Friday, March 18, 2022

Creativity Is a Chameleon (poem)

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Ruth at There is no such thing as a godforsaken town for Roundup.

I realized this week that my ArtSpeak: Animals project so far has been a bit heavy on mammals. So today I have a reptile for you!

Fun fact: I thought chameleons were amphibians...but no! Because they do not undergo metamorphosis, and they are cold blooded with scaly skin, they are reptiles.

And since I've (pretty much always) got creativity on my mind, here you go! Thank you so much for reading.

Creativity is a Chameleon

as it absorbs
of new ideas

    tail curling
    each eye circling

until sticky tongue
zipzaps a fly

as a thousand colors

- Irene Latham

Friday, March 11, 2022

Tenderness is a Tiger (poem)


Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit that oh-so-amazing duo Sylvia & Janet at Poetry for Children for Roundup.

I am teaching today virtually, helping students at Fox Meadow Elementary (Scarsdale, NY) craft anecdotes to go with their poems ala DICTIONARY FOR A BETTER WORLD. Fun!

My latest ArtSpeak: Animals poem started out as a poem about a zebra...and when that wasn't working, I switched to a tiger... and voila! Thank you so much for reading.

Tenderness is a Tiger

Tenderness is a tiger
cleaning its paw

barnacled tongue
creeps between claws


gathering dirt
and crumbs
before they fall.

Tenderness is a tiger
stretching in the sun

whiskers twitch, breath 
soon comes undone


as cubs tackle her tail—
even in sleep,
she welcomes their fun.

- Irene Latham

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Friday, March 4, 2022

Joy Serenades the Stars (poem)

Flowers brightening
my bathroom window
on a sunny morning.
Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit happy Kat at Kathryn Apel for Roundup.

I'm away from my desk this week, at Monroeville Literary Festival in Monroeville, Alabama (home of Harper Lee!) with my mom (!) and Charles Waters. Here's some scenes from traveling some of the same roads a decade ago!

Back in 2020, Monroeville Literary Festival was my last public event before covid shuttered the world...I'm glad to be making new memories.

Today's ArtSpeak: Animals poem features a coyote! 

I don't have a lot of experience with coyotes, though a highlight of our Yellowstone adventure a few years back was watching a coyote amble across a gas station parking lot. Cars were EVERYWHERE -- people, too -- and this critter wasn't bothered in the least. It wasn't the "in the wild" experience we were after, but it taught us something true about humans and wildlife interaction, something both sad and hopeful. But my poem is not about that, not really. :) Thanks so much for reading!

Joy Serenades the Stars

must stop

must lift voice

must tell the sky
the planets
the galaxies

I am here

night so brisk
so infinite

I am alive

- Irene Latham