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


  1. Bravo! Alliteration for the win, I say. Thanks for the processy thoughts. And, I thoroughly enjoyed your newsletter. My goodness...I know you are not, technically, a superhuman. But, your generosity as an artist to your readers and other writers is something I think is wonderful. I appreciate it very much and hope that I can take cues as needed. I have pre-recorded several Dictionary for a Better World poems for my students to hear in January. I can't wait for the boom in requests for books by Latham and Waters. It will be so fun to chat with kids about the words!

  2. Lovely with a sprinkle of spriteliness (is that a word?). I feel refreshed and lighter now. Thank you. :)

  3. I want to live in a "goldenrod world" -- I'm certain that is where Peace resides. Thank you, Irene!

  4. Yes, butterflies are masters at their "swoop" and lovely to gaze upon too–wonderful title too! Thanks for all the sharing you do!

  5. They are here, too, those "summer /sparklers", Irene. I loved reading your process this time. We all need to watch out for the needs of butterflies. Happy Sunday!

  6. Dazzle and sizzle, indeed! Here's to the pollinators!

  7. Irene, I am so happy for all of your joys and successes this year. Thank you for teaching the course at Highlights this spring. I often reflect on my learnings from Charles and you, as well as my learning from the many class participants who came to absorb your wisdom. Thank you for your support throughout 2023!

  8. Yes to butterflies as late summer sparklers!!!

  9. Love the alliteration and the sounds of dazzle and sizzle together. Thanks also for sharing your process. Yes to all of it!

  10. This is gorgeous! I'd cut "of light," though, if it were my poem--which it's not! Something about the idea that two short lines:
    a living dazzle
    happy to set
    would set up that longer, lusher image following it with a lovely contrast. Thank you for all the beauty and dazzle you put into the world! <3


Your thoughts?