Friday, January 6, 2023

SPACE & LIGHT for 2023

 Hello and happy first Poetry Friday of 2023! Be sure to visit the ever-inspiring Catherine at Reading to the Core for Roundup.

This is my 16th year to choose One Little Word to guide and inspire my year. It's a spiritual practice I'm quite attached to. Each year so far I have created a quilt block to commemorate the word and the year, and a few months ago I realized I had enough squares to make a "sampler" twin size, voila! 

My One Little Word list (so far)

2008 joy

2009 listen

2010 celebrate

2011 deeper

2012 fierce

2013 sky

2014 mystery

2015 wild

2016 delight

2017 abundance

2018 behold

2019 happy

2020 red

2021 bewilderment

2022 whimsy

Now I am not sure how I will commemorate this year and/or the coming years. I love cumulative projects, and I love quilts...but do I want another word quilt...or do I want to create something else?? I'd love to hear your suggestions!

The word I've selected for 2023 is a bit...odd. And open to interpretation. And it came from my dear friend Summer Laurie, who was the very first person in children's publishing who saw something in my writing and encouraged me to keep going! (We met at an SCBWI conference many moons ago, where she was presenting as an editor for now-defunct Tricycle Press. We had a one-on-one critique of a middle grade novel ms, and Summer requested the full ms! That book never got published, but Summer and I have kept in touch over the years, and she continues to be a huge supporter and person I'm proud to call friend!)

Aside: Summer edited a gorgeous verse novel that came out last year: WAVE by Diana Farid. It was recently recognized (along with AFRICAN TOWN! Thank you, committee!) as a Cybils Verse Novel Finalist. Don't miss it! (These other titles are wonderful, too. I've read and loved all of them!)

Back to my 2023 OLW. 

In my lastest Adventures in Ink e-newsletter, I asked for suggestions regarding my ArtSpeak theme, and Summer wrote back with "Space." 

Space, as in the moon, Mars, constellations, black holes...and perhaps also because I have a moon book of poems coming this year, called THE MUSEUM ON THE MOON: CURIOUS OBJECTS ON THE LUNAR SURFACE. 

More on this soon! Some of you know I am a NASA/Space junkie, and I'm super-excited about the Artemis fun to be able to bring this passion to a book of poems for kids!

Anyway...I instantly latched onto this words not for ArtSpeak, but for my One Little Word. It's got me thinking about space in the celestial sense obviously. 

Space in the physical sense, as in my writing space, my space in the world, and natural spaces, like caves, forests, meadows, lakes... 

Space in relationships. 

The space between us.

 Negative space. Space in poetry. Space in music.

 Empty space. Peaceful space. 

I'm a person who needs a lot of space, privacy, distance...and then there is nothing that means more to me than closing those distances to be with the ones I space! 

With all those things in mind, I'm excited to explore and discover more about my own personal relationship to Space in the coming year.

About my annual ArtSpeak project: this year I have decided to focus on LIGHT. 

I know! It's another vague/open word! This is what I need in my life right now, apparently. And when I think about the art that moves me most, it often has to do with light. 

I'm fascinated by how artists use light as a tool, how it guides the eye and the composition. 

There are so many kinds of light: moonlight, starlight, lighthouse, candlelight, sunlight, a certain slant of light, light at the end of the tunnel, and so many more!

Light is such a great metaphor for so many things, and when I think about what I crave and enjoy on a daily basis, it's light, lightness, illumination... 

When I think about the best gift we can give the world, it's us, ourselves, shining our own special kind of light....

So lots of poetic potential, yes? 

And also some challenges: what fresh/new can I bring to poems inspired by/related to light? 

I'm trusting the universe (light!) here and just going with it. We'll see what happens! 

For today's offering, I've got Edvard Munch's Moon Light...and obviously had the hinge of the new year on my mind. Thanks for reading!

moon extends its knife

slices night-rumpled waters—

what was, what's to come

-Irene Latham


  1. Space and light are both such great words to explore. I can't wait to see what you discover.

  2. Hooray! I was excited to visit this blog today and see what your OLW and Artspeak words would be. Ta da! Wonderful words--and imho, the weirder, the better. I so look forward to what you do with space. I've become much more of a space nerd after considering STAR for a year. Happy New Year, Irene!

  3. Your projects always inspire me. Both of your words remind me of my late father. He was an artist and he loved to play with light and dark. He always said that the darkest dark creates the brightest light. He also loved Space. Before he died, he was reading multiple books about astrophysics. He tried to talk to me about things like string theory, but my eyes would glaze over. I am excited to see where these words take you this year.

  4. Oh my WORD! That quilt is amazing! And I love your new words for 2023. Can't wait to see what you create!

  5. I'm with Ruth -- that QUILT!!! But also your ArtSpeak and your OLW. Such rich possibilities. You continue to inspire me!

  6. Two great words! I love words that can have multiple interpretations. And I love that you've kept a list of your words each year. I need to go back and see all the words I've used. I have been doing it for several years but am just realizing that I don't have them collected all in one place.

  7. Your poem and Edvard's painting inspired me too!

    Blue light at the edge
    of the sea. Treetop clouds dance
    with the full wolf moon.

  8. Both words - space and light - remind me that we need these to grow. All living things need space and light. Then the real becomes sacred. Thank you, Irene, for sharing your words. I'm looking forward to the coming year's journey.

  9. I had a hard time moving away from that gorgeous quilt! It's a magnificent way to remember your OLWs. Looking forward to all the poetic goodness that comes from space and light. Love "night-rumpled waters." Thank you for all your inspiration, Irene!

  10. I decided to work the friendship quilt squares my aunt gave me when I graduated from high school into a OLW quilt. I've tried over the years to decide which friends to include on the quilt and it's just too hard. Your quilt may provide the inspiration I need to move forward. Space and light - 2023 will be an illuminating journey for sure. Happy New Year!

  11. Irene, with joyful whimsy you created a treasured quilt to remind you of your one word guidance throughout the years. I love this keepsake and honor your one word space that will add serenity to your life as your explore your journey this year. Light opens the door. Thanks for these moments of letting me just be in your words.

  12. It feels to me that all you've written about this time connects, Irene, light and space - yes, I bet your brain is thinking of so.many.ideas! I am reading A Rover's Story right now, fun to read from a unique POV, & 'space' is one part of the story, a special part. I like that you showed the turning of the corner of years in your poem, with that gorgeous moon 'slicing' through the water. The full wolf moon this week was like a holiday gift!

  13. Hmmmm... Methinks you've left space wide open, for light to shine in. :)

  14. Ooooh--that's quite the first light haiku, and the light being moon's--you have linked wide-open light and space already. I have shied away from OLW in the last couple of years because I found it...uncomfortable to find that I couldn't keep focus on it. But your post and projects, Linda's padlet focus, Mary Lee's embroidery--they all make me want to COMMIT in a new way. And yet what if that's just not how I roll? Maybe my OLW should be "distraction." I'm very excited to read WAVE, along (finally) with AFRICAN TOWN and the rest--I'm a judge!

    1. Could "roll" be the word that suits you this year, Heidi?

  15. Irene, your quilt is stunning! I love both of your words and can't wait to see what riches they reveal to you in the coming year!

  16. Irene ~ Space is a luxurious word. The space to stretchhhhh, to take up all the space we need. I've always imagined that each of us is given our own square when we're born, and that over time we learn, to stretch out, use all of our space, claim our space, and ultimately, share our space. Thank you for this space and for all that you share so generously.


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