Friday, February 9, 2024

Bless Our Pets + a Tiger poem

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

I've just gotten a sneak peek at Bless Our Pets: Poems of Gratitude for our Animal Friends edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illus. by Lita Judge (Eerdman's, coming April 16). 

I kind of love these posthumous projects, because they fill me with tenderness and make me feel connected to the deceased. In this case, that would be Lee Bennett Hopkins

I wish I could tell him in person how much I love his poem in the collection titled "My Old Dog." Here's to you, Lee! And to my old dogs: Sasha and Ruby—no longer with us on earth (hey, Lee, maybe you've met them??)—and Rosie, who, at age 5, isn't quite an old dog yet, but the sentiment still holds!

Rosie, age 5

Another favorite from the collection is "Dreaming of Savannah" by Kristine O'Connell George. As a life-long horse-lover, I often find myself dreaming of Cinnamon, Sugar, Rusty, Honey, Daisy Mae, and Starfire! Honey, most of all. Oh, sweet Honeysuckle Rose, our time together was too short, too short...

"Dreaming of Savannah" by Kristine O'Connell George,
illus. by Lita Judge; used with permission from the publisher.

Dreaming of Savannah

I dream of you in the morning—

  I hear a nicker, then a neigh.

  Apple? Carrot? Handful of hay?

I dream of you each afternoon—

  the velvet softness of your lips,

  your breath, warm upon my fingertips.

I dream of you late every night—

  glints of moonlight tangle your mane.

  We race across the star-strewn plain.

- Kristine O'Connell George

Other pets featured include: kitten, puppy, goldfish, gerbil, hamster, rabbit, guinea pig, turtle, snake, mouse. Lovely poems by lovely poets. And the art!! I'm a huge fan of Lita Judge, and her work here is so heartwarming. (A favorite: the spread for "Pet Snake?" by Charles Ghigna. The expressions on those kids' faces!!) This is a sweet book to share with kids of all ages.


Red Heart

A classic red love heart emoji, used for expressions of love and roman...

And now for today's ArtSpeak: FOLK ART poem! This one is after a piece by another Alabama folk artist: Thornton Dial. 

The piece I've selected features a tiger, which is a recurring theme in Dial's work. It's said that he meant the tiger as a symbol of survival in general, and specifically the struggle of the civil right movement in the United States. 

I of course had this in my mind while writing my poem! But what drew me most into the piece was the coexistence of an apex predator and that mad scattering of flowers. 

The piece feels dream-y to me, so I stepped (flew? grew?) into the dream. Thanks so much for reading!

What Tiger Dreams

Tiger dreams a field

Tiger dreams posies rising
from heat-bleached bones

Tiger dreams wings

Tiger speeds across bleakest night,
a garden growing in his wake

- Irene Latham


  1. Bless Our Pets couldn't have come at a better time to heal my heart. Thanks for sharing it's existence and providing a link to pre-order.

    And your Dial inspired poem? Dreamy indeed, Irene! "a garden growing in his wake". swoon!

  2. Irene, your Artspeak poem is just definitely dreamy, and I am just sitting here imagining you being inspired by that novel artwork. It's a beautiful poem that wouldn't have been born with the art, and that makes it all the more special.

  3. Love the tiger poem! Excited about your new folk art themed ArtSpeak this year. :) Thanks, too, for sharing Kristine's poem -- beautiful pairing of words with Lita's gorgeous art.

  4. I am so looking forward to this book, Irene. Thanks for sharing it and your lovely Tiger poem.

  5. Lovely post, Irene - I've got a digital peek into this new collection and look forward to sharing a shout-out as well. Lee is sorely missed; I'm thankful for his incredible body of work and for these last books that bear his name with new wonders to read.
    And, your dreaming tiger! Roaring flowers. Beautiful.

  6. I had to wait all day to read your post, Irene, and you did not disappoint! I love your review of Bless Our Pets. I wish I could have met Honeysuckle Rose. I bet she was a beauty. As for What Tiger Dreams - wow! I wish that your poems could be displayed right next to each piece of artwork that you write about because it is almost as if your words make the art three dimensional!

  7. Thanks for sharing the backstory of this piece, Irene. It really gives weight to your poem - "posies rising from heat-bleached bones"!

  8. Irene, what makes your ArtSpeak poems so special is your ability to rise to a cerebral level as you find the right word choice to blend the art with thought=>"a garden growing in his wake". Thank you for the review of the new book about pets. Lee was such an amazing man who always had a smile and talking time for his fans at conferences. He knew the way to apple polish his poems for children to grow with.

  9. Your love for those past animal friends--I can feel it. My old dog, Dinah, is missed terribly. I have had lots of dreams with my old dog in them...what a great prompt. I so look forward to getting my hands on this book.The cover art is beautiful.
    Happy Chinese New Year! My daughter is a dragon and our new fur baby kittens just turned one today. It's an auspicious day in my home...great memories and great celebrations all at once. Thanks for the poems that fit right in with my day.

  10. It's quite wonderful that Lee continues to give us joy. Bless Our Pets sounds wonderful, Irene. I have some special memories of an Arab mare named Mariah. And your tiger dreaming of fields of flowers makes that art come alive! Have a great weekend!

  11. I can't wait to read the LBH anthology, and the heat-bleached bones in your poem, bones that can yield a garden. Isn't that the epitome of hope. Thanks, Irene!

  12. Such an image-filled and beautiful line in your poem Irene, "a garden growing in his wake!" Thanks also for sharing Lee Bennett Hopkins latest book, looks enchanting as does the art, and the doggies too!

  13. Oh Irene, your tiger poem is just wonderful - I love the idea of the tiger leaving a posy in his wake. And thanks for the glimpse into Lee's book. I will have to own it when it is released.

  14. Oh, my goodness, Bless Our Pets looks so very sweet. And your poem — "posies rising from heat-bleached bones" — oh, my goodness again! What an intriguing combo, the predator and the posies.

  15. I love "a garden growing in his wake". May we all leave behind a garden of hope. I look forward to Bless Our Pets. I'm feeling affection for Lee, even though I never met him, holding him in high regard while judging the LBH Award. Such a burden and an honor. I hope I channel his deep affection for poetry.


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