Friday, September 29, 2023

Your Heart is a House poem

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit delicious Jama's Alphabet Soup for Roundup.

I've been reading Poems from the Edge of Extinction: An Anthology of Poetry in Endangered Languages edited by Chris McCabe.

What important work, to preserve poems in disappearing languages! I'm learning so much. Also: do you know the middle grade verse novel

The Lost Language by Claudia Mills? It's pretty darn wonderful and would make a grand companion to this collection!

I offer you two excerpts that might have been in my subconscious mind when I was crafting this week's ArtSpeak: LIGHT poem.

My heart by Anjela Duval, trs. by Iwan Couee (Breton: The Bretons are a people of Celtic origin who are located in the region of Brittany in the westernmost part of France. Breton is the only Celtic language spoken on the European mainland and has been historically repressed by the French.)

My heart is a graveyard,

Enclosing many and many a tomb,

Everyday there is a novel one,

The tombs of parents and friends,

The tombs of the companions I loved so much.

My heart is a graveyard,

...My heart is a sanctuary,

That welcomes all the ones I love.

excerpt from "I Love This House" by Meg Bateman (Scottish Gaelic)

With the child asleep

I wander from room to room,

bare feet on bare floorboards,

seeking the ghosts

who left this legacy of calm,

whose breath appears in the long grass

as blue and purple flowers


Now for m ArtSpeak: LIGHT poem! It's about moving, which figures, because I've moved many, many times in my life. And I guess I have a lot to say about that experience... because I wrote many, many drafts related to this art, moving my poem in many, many directions! I finally settled on sharing this version because I love a title that is a metaphor. Thank you so much for reading!

your heart is a house

each time you

pack up the boxes

haul out the furniture

empty the trash

what's left

is a room flush

with light

- Irene Latham

Friday, September 22, 2023

Dancing into Fall


I finally got my hands on a copy!

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

Wow, I just checked the calendar, and we have just 14 more Poetry Fridays this year! That means 14 more Light poems. 14 more weeks to figure out what my art theme will be for 2024. 14 more weeks of "Space," my One Little Word.

Speaking of Space, it seems a good time to take stock. I've given myself space so far this year by staying off social media; by keeping my calendar full of white space; by setting and minding boundaries; by relaxing my sense of hyper-responsibility; by letting go of resentments, fears, worries. 

I've felt a little lost at times, a little confused and unsure of my path. Other times I've felt euphoric. 

I'm deliberately making a shift from the goal mindset of "what do I want to DO with my time/space/life?" to "who do I want to BE in this time/space/life?" 

I want to be creative and healthy/fit. I want to be connected to self, nature, and others. I want to be a giver, a learner, an explorer.

It can be hard to shift away from all those external measures that we are so programmed (and encouraged!) to pursue. This other path requires deeper observation, contemplation, and connection— yoga and meditation and dedicated reading time / writing-fun time / crafting time / learning time / nature time / cello time / just-me time / do-nothing time / let's-talk time has been really important.

Mostly what I see happening is that the Space I'm carving for myself offers a warm glow I can sink into—I think it's called "contentment."

Along with launching my MOON book (So many thanks to those who have helped spread the love!), I also did a little fun poetry crafting this week...I'm calling it "Matchbook Poetry." See the video below! 

Today's ArtSpeak: LIGHT poem features a ballerina. I love the beauty of ballet, the grace of the human form. I have written several other poems about dancers:

"The Dance Lesson"


"To A Dancer"

"Flamingo School of Dance"

"The Last Poem" 

Here's a little memoir piece I did about my own (limited!) experience as a dancer.

Here's my review of Dancers on Dancing by Cynthia Lyle (and how it applies to writing!) along with my poem "Audrey Hepburn at the Dance Studio."

And now I offer you a dancer / dancing / ballerina / ballet haiku! It abandons syllable count and attempts to satisfy the haiku tradition of the middle line as hinge: the first two lines mean one thing, and the second two lines mean something else. Thanks so much for reading. 

ballerina leaps

a beam of light

arcs across our faces

-Irene Latham

Finally, I'm delighted to report that one of my photos of Rosie won an HM in a local photography contest! I'm excited to be working with Friends of the Locust Fork River on some nature-poetry things in the future. Here's Rosie!

Friday, September 15, 2023

Dizzy with Moonness!

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure and visit radiant Rose at Imagine the Possibilities for Roundup.

Don't you love that "dizzy with moonness" phrase in the subject line?! It comes from a new picture book DORIS by Sarah Jacoby. I'm kind of in love with Doris, and I can't stop thinking about that spread in the book. Check it out! 

THE MUSEUM ON THE MOON officially opens next Tuesday. Finally!

The Kirkus review is in, and it's a good one: "A provocative tally of treasure and trash." 

Thank you, Kirkus!

I've created a MOON Discussion Guide, now available for free download on my website. Educators, I hope you find it useful!

Y'all have shared so many wonderful Moon poems, and they are all collected as a permanent exhibit on The Museum on the Moon padlet. Thank you!

Today I have some more "moon" offerings for you, all pulled from a beautiful anthology for adults entitled To the Moon: An Anthology of Lunar Poems edited by Carol Ann Duffy. The collection is arranged chronologically, which is super-interesting! I offer you below a few of the selections (that are in the public domain).

But first, a few other moon notes:

You probably heard in the news about India becoming the 4th nation to land on the Moon... and the 1st nation to land on Moon's south pole. View footage here.

As much as we're hearing lately about space travel, there's still a lot of problems that will need to be addressed. Fascinating article here!

Finally, you're going to love this video of things left on the moon. (I addressed many of these in THE MUSEUM ON THE MOON!)

And now, poems!

These lines, from the Chinese Book of Odes, written around 500 B.C. (from the introduction of TO THE MOON, edited by Carol Ann Duffy)


I climbed the hill just as the new moon showed,

I saw him coming on the southern road.

My heart lays down its load.


To the Moon

by Giacomo Leopardi 

Now that the year has come full circle,

I remember climbing this hill, heartbroken,

To gaze up at the graceful sight of you,

And how you hung then above those woods

As you do tonight, bathing them in brightness.

But at that time your face seemed nothing

But a cloudy shimmering through my tears,

So wretched was the life I led: and lead still. . .

Nothing changes, moon of my delight. Yet

I find pleasure in recollection, in calling back

My season of grief: when one is young,

And hope is a long road, memory

A short one, how welcome then

The remembrance of things past— no matter

How sad, and the heart still grieving


excerpt from The Moon was But a Chin of Gold 

by Emily Dickinson

The Moon was but a Chin of Gold

A Night or two ago —

And now she turns Her perfect Face

Upon the World below—


Wind and Silver

by Amy Lowell 

Greatly shining,

The Autumn moon floats in the thin sky;

And the fish-ponds shake their backs and flash their dragon scales

As she passes over them.


Moon's Ending

by Sara Teasdale

Moon, worn thin to the width of a quill,

In the dawn clouds flying,

How good to go, light into light, and still

Giving light, dying.


excerpt from The Moon in Your Hands

by H.D.

If you take the moon in your hands

and turn it round

(heavy, slightly tarnished platter)

you're there


And now, this week's ArtSpeak: LIGHT poem! Perhaps you know this poem by Emily Dickinson. I didn't! But something I often do when crafting poems is google phrases I'm order to find out if others have already used that phrase. It could be on a national commercial for all I know, or it might have multiple meanings I'm not aware of. Always good to check! Anyhow, the phrase that opens my poem is in the same wheelhouse as Emily's poem—but not the same—so, YAY! 

Also: please note the different line breaks in the graphic vs. the text version of this poem. The lines were just too long for the art, so I used different line breaks in my graphic. This is a great example of how flexible we need to be as poets, and how the art can inform the text in multiple ways. I hope this helps you as you craft our own ekphrastic poems! Thanks so much for reading.

if you want to make me happy

bring me sunrise in a mug,
join me by a window spilling water

together we'll watch poems sway
as dawn drifts into day

- Irene Latham

Friday, September 8, 2023

Come Fire, Come Fall poem

Rosie says hello!
 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit amazing Amy at The Poem Farm for Roundup. And don't miss Amy's new book, THE SOUND OF KINDNESS! It's so very Amy. 

Also, my Poetic Forever Friend Charles Waters has a new book out with Traci Sorell: a verse novel titled MASCOT. So many congratulations to these two!

Here in the Alabama foothills of the Appalachias, we've got so many happy things going on! Football season, cooler weather, my cello choir back in rehearsals, a slew of family/friends birthdays...and my MOON book coming in a week in a half. Some folks have reported already receiving their pre-ordered copies...yay! I haven't even received *my* copies yet!

Read early reviews at Beyond LiteracyLink, A Word Edgewise, and Imagine the Possibilities. Thank you, my fellow selenofiles! (That's a new word to's what you call someone who loves the moon!)

Speaking of the moon, this week I got a Google alert that sent me to this most whimsical moon-shaped postcard! I absolutely love it. I ended up ordering quite a few things from the etsy shop from whence it came: NoteworthyPaperPress. If you love paper and mail—and I know many in our community do—please check them out.

I've been reading a lot of adult books lately: Tom Lake by Ann Patchett, Spare by Prince Harry, Life in the Garden by Penelope Lively. Good stuff!

This week's ArtSpeak: LIGHT poem is all about anticipation and longing for that glorious fall season (my favorite!). It won't be long now...

come fire, come fall

o blazing season of leaf-crackle
and falling-back clock

of forest-spark and quiet rot,

come fold us
into your smoldering

for you we burn and yearn

- Irene Latham

Friday, September 1, 2023

The Shape of Forever poem

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit radiant Ramona at Pleasures from the Page for Roundup.

"Kossola" art in lobby
Last week we escaped to the coast...and roasted! We feasted on seafood (including some crab we trapped ourselves!) and also visited The Africatown Heritage House. As anticipated, it was a powerful experience—especially the final part of the exhibit which features names of the shipmates etched in glass along with audio of descendants saying the names aloud. Kossola "Cudjo" Lewis along with all of the characters in Africa Town are included. However, the majority of those 110 names are "unknown." Heartstopping.

This week's ArtSpeak: LIGHT poem is an exploration into an ambiguous word. What does "forever" really mean? It's kind of hard to pin down, but poetry helps. Thanks so much for reading!

The Shape of Forever

a thousand box windows
cannot hold sun's eye

a study of light
yields a city of questions

if you paint a bridge
it may bleed,
but it will not crumble

a hole is a circle

so is my heart

- Irene Latham