Friday, December 29, 2023

One More Moon Poem as 2023 Comes to a Close

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Michelle Kogan for the last Roundup of 2023.

Wow, I can't believe we are on the cusp of a brand new year! I've got black-eyed peas and greens ready to go. :)

I've enjoyed my ArtSpeak: LIGHT year so much... and my One Little Word "Space"...and the release of my MOON it's no wonder this week's poem led me to this particular piece of art and these bittersweet words. 

Thanks so much for reading...see you in 2024!

When Moon Sweeps Sky Clean of Clouds

just past the trees
mountains fade to shadowed heaps
sky is streaked with stars so bright, so deep
you want to weep for all you cannot keep:
for light, for peace
                               for nights like these

- Irene Latham

Friday, December 22, 2023

Winter Solstice poem

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Jone Rush MacCulloch for Roundup.

Exciting news: the STEM issue of Tyger Tyger magazine is out, and it includes my poem "Math Lesson (from the Garden)." You can download a poster of the poem as well as teaching resources. So many thanks to editor Rachel Piercey and the whole Tyger Tyger team!

Today's ArtSpeak: LIGHT poem was inspired by the winter solstice (obviously!) and a couple of other cool things:

1. Father Arthur Poulin, the artist-monk-priest from California whose work graces many a greeting card (and I want them ALL!!). His work speaks to my soul, so what a pleasure to write a poem after this piece.

2. David Harrison's most recent "Poetry in Daily Life" column on writing couplets. The article makes it seem so easy, especially during this time-challenged season,'s a couplet for you! Thanks for reading.

Winter Prayer

In this season of trees trimmed with frosty air,
thank you for star-flicker and sky-flare.

- Irene Latham

Friday, December 15, 2023

Winter Garden poem

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Janice at Salt City Verse for Roundup.

It's been quite a busy season round these parts, so I especially loved getting in the mail my Winter Poem Swap gift from Michelle Kogan. I am a huge fan of Michelle's art and poetry, so I knew the package would be full of delights...and it was! 

Michelle gifted me some watercolor pencils, which I have already been experimenting with (while on hold during a phone call! :) along with forest-y bookmarks and the most marvelous Moon gift:

Y'all, it's an accordion notebook! With a gorgeous moon! And the poem is one Michelle wrote by finding words in my book THE MUSEUM ON THE MOON. Isn't that so so special? I just want to hug it...and I have! So many thanks to Tabatha, our Poetry Swap Mama, and of course to my moon sister Michelle. 

Here's the poem:

Moon's Dream
for Irene

Rekindle Moon's
olive branch of Peace...
A wee sparkling gift
from a wee blue planet
A Moon wish for humanity.

—Michelle Kogan


This week's ArtSpeak: LIGHT poem features the garden! And a triolet—which, as it turns out, is kind of my go-to form whenever I'm stuck. Only 8 lines to start with, and really, once you've written just two lines, you've written most of the poem! 

Here are links to some other triolets I've written:

Triolet for Planting Day

Tiger Talk Triolet


"Welcome, Earthlings!" (triolet that opens THE MUSEUM ON THE MOON)

I do, often, take liberties with the form. So I'd call today's poem a "variation on a triolet."

Here's why: The triolet calls for a repeat of the second line as the final line of the poem. That doesn't always suit my poetic aesthetic, because I often want the poem to go somewhere, not just back around. I took the second line (all about winter root growth) and wrote a "parallel" final line all about spring growth.

*Let this be your reminder that forms are great, but if your poetic sensibilities lead you AWAY from the form, that's okay! Just call it a variation, and you're good to go!

Winter Garden

There's a garden under that snow.
Deep in cozy soil, roots stretch, unfurl.
Plants need privacy, did you know?
Yes, there's a garden under that snow.
Plants carry the light required to grow
while winter sky is all storm and swirl.
There a garden under that snow!
Come spring, watch green shoots pop, uncurl.

- Irene Latham

Thanks so much for reading! If you are in the Birmingham area, Charles Waters and I would love to see you Tuesday night, Dec. 19, 6 pm at Hoover Library where we are closing out the "Stories of Exile" series with a presentation about AFRICAN TOWN. See you there!

Friday, December 8, 2023

Butterfly Fireworks


when I think of the desert,
this experience comes to mind!
(my sons, circa 2004)
Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit desert-poetry-goddess Patricia at Reverie for Roundup. 

Don't miss my post earlier this week at Smack Dab in the Middle where I catalog my Top 10 Highlights of 2023. So much goodness!

Also, Charles Water and I issued an invitation to poets to fill out this Getting to Know You questionnaire, which will help us better match poets to projects as we create new anthologies. So many have responded...thank you! We're so grateful to be part of such a joyful community. 

This week I also sent out my latest Adventures in Ink e-newsletter. Click here to access the "'Tis the Season for Peace" issue. (If you're not yet a subscriber, you can join the fun by clicking here.)

Today's ArtSpeak: LIGHT poem features butterflies! Who doesn't love butterflies? As a Master Gardener and Alabama Master Naturalist in training, I am committed to providing safe havens for these lovelies by planting pollinator plants...which are beautiful in and of themselves, but when you think about all the GOOD they can do, it's kind of stunning. 

A few process-y things about writing this poem:

1. The title came first! (I do love a great metaphor.)

2. The butterflies depicted in the art are not colored like painted lady butterflies. But the yellow and orange background brought them to mind, so... (Just a reminder that you CAN use your imagination when writing ekphrastic poems. It needn't be a literal recreation of the art piece...and I would argue it shouldn't be.)

3. I wanted a lot of space and movement in these lines to mimic the butterflies' action among the goldenrod (in my imagination/memory). 

4. For the same reason, I wanted to use as little punctuation as possible.

5. A Google search of "words to describe fireworks" helped me replace first-drafty words with more vivid ones!

6. I'm still on the fence about whether I need to include "of light" after "dazzle." 

This has happened so many times this year... I talked about it in this post...and in the earlier poem, I chose to cut "of light." Here it feels more necessary. (?)

Thanks so much for reading.

Butterfly Fireworks

two painted ladies
are late summer 

as they sip,

a living dazzle of light
happy to set 
the whole goldenrod 

- Irene Latham

Friday, December 1, 2023

Ode to the Sun (poem)

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit amazing Anastasia at Small Poems for Roundup.

You guys: just 4 more Poetry Fridays in 2023! 

I've done something I don't usually do: I've mapped out the final 4 ArtSpeak: Light pieces. Maybe this will free up my mind to decide on what my 2024 theme will be?? We shall see. 

Meanwhile, here is my poem. It actually started out much longer, but I realized there wasn't much fresh about the first few lines, so I performed that sometimes-painful but often-refreshing revision strategy of "cut the front porch." 

So often our first lines are just us writing the things that will get us to the really juicy stuff...and the poem immediately benefits when you forgo the porch and swing open the door.

Thanks so much for reading.

Ode to the Sun

You do not shout
when clouds invade sky's valley,
you are steady
as they unsheathe their silver arrows.
Afterwards you are first
to fold us unto your arms,
your voice a choir of birdsong
and solace,
your fingers erasing every tear.

- Irene Latham