Friday, November 24, 2023

If the Sun Had Shoes

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit radiant Ruth at no such thing as a godforsaken town for Roundup. She's invited us to share something GOOD. I'm all about that. So let me tell you: this week I've had so much fun! 

Early in the week I made my first-ever chocolate angel food cake....for my sister. Delish!

I did A LOT more cooking...and then our fellas came...and we feasted! 

We also played some family games, which always generates lots of laughter.

I crafted (Christmas ornaments!)

and gardened (33 wintercreeper plants)

and wrote (a new experimental YA!)

and revised (my adult novel).

So. Much. GOOD. 

And that got me thinking about shoes. I mean, all this going and doing requires a good pair of shoes. So, with a little help from Vincent van Gogh, I wrote this poem. Thanks so much for reading!

If the Sun Had Shoes

those shoes

would hold

a glow 

in their soles

make tracks

across each

radiant day

and illuminate

every midnight


- Irene Latham

Thursday, November 16, 2023

The Last Poem (Poetry Friday Roundup is Here!)

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Special shout-out to all our poet-friends and educators at NCTE! Welcome to Roundup. Please add your link below.

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First, be sure and check out the new weekly poetry column headed up by David Harrison! This edition of "Poetry from Daily Life" is written by guest-poet Ted Kooser, and it's a beauty that will remind you to play. (I needed that reminder this week!)

Second, I want to shout-out the latest from Geisel-Honor-Award-winning author/poet/friend Vikram Madan. It's a rhyming graphic novel. I know! Brilliant, right? Perfect for Dr. Seuss fans. It's called Zooni Tales, and it's sweet and fun and just perfect for beginning readers. 

Vikram takes us behind the scenes in this blog post. Rhyming AND illustrating...such talent! 

Also, here's a quick flip-through video of the book.  

So many thanks to Vikram for allowing me to share below the sea-spread, which I love! I just want to place this book in the hands of all the young readers in my life, and I hope you will, too. 💜


Finally: I've been thinking lately about the last poem in a collection of poems. 

Perhaps you, like me, upon picking up a collection of poems flip right to the last poem of the book. Last poems are often my favorite poems in a collection–sometimes the only poem I remember or truly care about. And, since in addition to being a reader, I am in the business of creating poetry collections (just like many of you!), that got me thinking: why? 

What should the last poem in a collection do? What purpose does it serve? What message or mood should it convey?

I want to say right up front that I'm sure there are as many answers to these questions as there are poets in the world. What we crave in collections is personal, subjective. But whatever my (and your!) personal preferences, I think we can all learn something from this discussion, yes?

So, for me, as a reader, I love last poems that are soft, tender, thoughtful. 

I like being left with a question, a wistfulness, a wonder. 

A fat moment, a place to linger.

Acceptance, hope, awe.

I don't want a conclusion, so much as a jumping-off place. 

I want a shift in my mind/heart to someplace else. 

I want a sense of mystery, yet something that also feels satisfying—like an acknowledgement of the journey we've just been on in reading the book, and some hint of what direction to go next. 

An end AND a beginning. 

What poetry collections offer this? Here are just a few from my personal shelves:

The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog: And Other How to Poems ends with "How to Pay Attention" by April Halprin Wayland.

A Maze Me: Poems for Girls by Naomi Shihab Nye ends with "Thoughts That Came in Floating—"

Cherry Moon: Little Poems for Big Ideas Mindful of Nature by Zaro Weil ends with "twilight"

Requiem: Poems of the Terazin Ghetto by Paul B. Janeczko ends with these ten words, untitled, which are embedded in my memory:

Blue sky


barbed wire.

I wish I were



Meanwhile, during my ArtSpeak: Harlem Renaissance series, I wrote a poem titled "The Last Poem," which offer a poetic way of exploring this topic.

And now, this week's ArtSpeak: LIGHT poem. I struggled a bit this week...couldn't settle on an art piece, and then when I did, I wanted to poem to accomplish SO MUCH, partly because I love this piece of art so much...and also because I mean it as a love poem to you and you and YOU! The poem gets its title from good ol' Walt Whitman. Thanks so much for reading.

Because You Contain Multitudes

I find in your face

enough space for everything—

triangles of mischief

spangles of awe

curves of questions

swerves of certainty

squares of yes

flares of no

and in your eyes

a thousand round skies, all aglow.

- Irene Latham

Friday, November 10, 2023

Another Cat Haiku

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

This week's ArtSpeak: LIGHT is another cat haiku! It makes a nice companion, I think, for this one, which I wrote last year (ArtSpeak:ANIMALS) as part of my Picasso min-series.

Today's cat haiku allowed me to combine the cat with the season. Yay! Truly, our cat Maggie loves watching the leaves fall. Don't we all?! Thanks for reading. See you next week, for Roundup here at Live Your Poem. 😊

cat on windowsill

sits transfixed as maple

unzips her dress

-Irene Latham

Friday, November 3, 2023

Epitaph for Light


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

So much on my mind today, what with it being November (!) Our fall color has peaked and now we're witnessing the great leaf-drop...we were practically wading through our backyard yesterday afternoon!

Today is also my day to post over at Smack Dab in the Middle, where you can read my (very short!) poem "Nine Ways of Looking at Revision." 

Also, here's my 3 favorite reads in 2023! (Not just released in 2023...could be any year release so long as you read it in 2023 And you know I read A LOT!). Click to find out what I loved about these books. :) And, this is super-interesting...check out Shepherd's Best Books of 2023 page. (One of my faves popped up on other people's lists!)

Another exciting thing: I joined the inaugural Alabama Master Naturalist program, so I'm excited to join others in learning more about the amazing biodiversity in my home state. :)

And THEN, a few days ago I stumbled on this post about literary epitaphs, and I've returned to it several times. 

So, trees, forests, and tombstones. For today's ArtSpeak: LIGHT poem, I've got a poem that combines all these things! 

I've had this "tree" piece of art in my file all year, and I each time I think of "Pied Beauty" by Gerard Manly Hopkins. The word "dappled" in particular comes to mind. I got to thinking: where does Light go to die? Which sent me to listen to a favorite piece of poetry-song "Take This Waltz" by the great Leonard Cohen

Perhaps that's the First-Week-of-November-Poetry-Cocktail that inspired me to finally write about The Bodmore Oak by Claude Monet.  This painting is a rendering of an actual tree in the Forest of Fountainbleau outside Paris. At one time Fountainbleau was "the" place for landscape artists to visit and work. Let's take a field trip, shall we? We can all write poems! 

Meanwhile, here's my poem. Thanks so much for reading! p.s. just 8 more Poetry Fridays in 2023!

Epitaph for Light

Here lies Light—

beloved friend 
of painters, 
and poets

the original 

O Light 
of a thousand faces
we cherish your 
flash, glimmer, glitter, beam!

Rest now, 
happy and dappled
in your forest home

- Irene Latham