Friday, June 24, 2022

Peacock in Love (poem)

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Catherine at Reading to the Core for Roundup.

Big news! After a long covid-induced delay, Charles Waters and I will be in-person, teaching a workshop at Highlights October 8-11, 2022 called Poetry for Kids: A World of Publishing Possibilities. We'll be talking about many things, including:

 1) finding your voice in the wide world of children's poetry

 2) revising poetry (one of my most favorite things to teach!)

 3) performing poetry (for school visits, online outlets, and other events)

Please join us for fun, fellowship, learning, and inspiration! Click here to learn more.

Today's ArtSpeak! Animals poem is a love poem. I think love poems are my favorite comfort food! And...we saw a peacock in love recently when we visited Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs, AR. (If you are in the area, please do not miss it! Acres of gorgeousness!)

As for the peacock in love, his name's George. The photo does NOT do him justice at all! (too shady) 

But Walasse Ting's art does. :) Thank you so much for reading!

Peacock in Love

two eyes aren't enough
so with a gentle rustling
of feathers
he pops open his parasol,
trains a hundred more eyes
on her and her alone

a benediction
bright enough to eclipse
hunger, sickness,

all his iridescent attention


- Irene Latham

Friday, June 17, 2022

After Sorrow poem


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

On the eighth day of kindness, I will give to you...

celebrating next Tuesday's release of THE TWELVE DAYS OF KINDNESS (Penguin Random House, illus. by Junghwa Park) with a series of kindness quotes. Enjoy!

Today's ArtSpeak: Animals features one of my favorites: horses! Thank you so much for reading.


after sorrow
comes a tower
of blue horses

they carry
one crescent
for each thing
you have lost

it's time,
they say
fill your belly
with stars

 - Irene Latham

Friday, June 10, 2022

The First Day of Kindness + Donkey Poem


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

So...exciting news! I've been named an Alabama State Council on the Arts Literary Fellow for 2022!

You guys, I have applied for this fellowship many, many times over the past decade. In fact, I looked it up, and this was my 9th time to apply. Wanna hear the story?

The very first year I got a "close by no cigar" note from the director. I thought for sure I'd get it the next year. I didn't. Or the next or the next...

A few years in, I said, forget this, I'm never going to get it. I didn't apply that year. 

Lo and behold, one of the program directors Anne Kimsey invited me to instead sit on the panel to review submissions. She knew I'd learn a lot! And I did. 

I thought, oh I'll get it next year for sure! NOPE. I didn't get it that year. Or the next or the next. 

But one of the main reasons I kept on submitting is because I read a study that found men are more likely to get literary awards not because they're better (duh) but because they keep submitting. Women, it turns out, are much more likely to give up MUCH sooner than men. 

So I decided: I'm not going to be one of those women. 

And I gotta tell you, this year I had SO MUCH on my plate come submission time I really didn't want to make it a priority. But I did. And I'm so glad.

So: here's my message to all my Poetry Friday (women!) friends: don't be one of those women who throws in the towel too soon. KEEP GOING. 

In other news, and on the same theme... I have a new picture book releasing this month: The Twelve Days of Kindness (Penguin Random House) with illustrations by Junghwa Park.

I wrote (and sold) this book 6 1/2 years ago...which wins the "longest time between sale and publication" award for any of my books so far. The book came to be because of a series of kindness quotes I shared in the days leading up to Christmas 2015. I just knew there was a way to adapt "The Twelve Days of Christmas" song to a picture book about kindness! 

Fun news: the audio version of the book features a spoken and a sung version of the book, which I absolutely love... and know families and groups are going to have so much fun with!

The book might not have happened without a little help from my local SCBWI critique group. Big thanks especially to Claudia Pearson who helped me tweak the "first day of kindness" verse, which of course is everything, because it repeats twelve times!

Anyway, since then there have been about a billion kindness books! Which is great, because what better message is there to share with kids of all ages?

As a way to celebrate, I'll be sharing on social media over the next 12 days those quotes from my original blog series. Here's the first:

And now switching to ArtSpeak: ANIMALS.

A dear friend of mine collects donkeys, so I am always on the hunt as I visit antique stores, thrift shops, and yard sales. Surely that's why I couldn't resist writing a poem about this donkey art! Thanks so much for reading.

Donkey Frieze

So many donkeys

parading a pasture

can't be wrong:

the sky is not falling;

no disaster awaits.

Today is simply—today.

Kick up your heels,

graze with soft eyes.

Joy nuzzles

as often as it brays.

- Irene Latham

Friday, June 3, 2022

Swan Poem

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Karen Edmisten* for Roundup.

It's June! How can that be? I always think of June as wedding season, although I've actually not been to many June weddings—and Paul and I were married in April. But someone's getting married in June, yes?

That's why today's ArtSpeak: ANIMALS poem features some wedding imagery. Thank you so much for reading!


The bride arrives
dressed in silk feathers
and wedding lace

promises to love
and cherish the pond

or at least as long
as summer surrounds
her with admirers,

swaddles her
in warm gurgles
and ripples of light.

- Irene Latham

p.s. For more swans, try "The Swan" by Mary Oliver. 

Who doesn't remember Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars? (I still have my childhood copy!)

And one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever: "The Swan" by Camille Saint-Saens, performed by Yo-Yo Ma and Kathryn Stott.