Friday, May 31, 2024


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

Today I'm happy to welcome Mia Wenjen, aka 
PragmaticMom to the blog! 
You may know Mia as the woman behind the annual Read Your World Day celebration, which showcases multicultural books for kids.

She's got a new book called Boxer Baby Battles Bedtimeillustrated by Kai Gietzen (Eifrig Publishing, May 26, 2024) that came about as a result of a Kickstarter campaign. (Mia makes things happen!)  Paperback copies available here

BOXER BABY is Mia's ode to boxing, stay-at-home dads, toddlers who hate napping, and figurative language. It features MANY well-known idioms that have boxing origins! Talk about a poet's playground! The book trailer is here.

Welcome, Mia!


MW: Boxer Baby Battles Bedtime! is my ode to stay-at-home dads like my husband who stayed home for two years with our oldest, now 24 years old!  He agrees that taking care of children is the hardest job you’ll ever love. However when we had our second child, he threw in the towel and went back to work, and I stayed home!


MW: Boxer Baby will do anything to resist naptime, bobbing and weaving to escape from Dad. She’s no lightweight and she never seems to get tired! 


MW: Our treat for readers is the “Easter Egg” we planted in the hallway: Leila Ali, Clarissa Shields, and the great Katie Taylor. I spill the beans in my author’s note.


MW: Illustrator Kai Geizen is a recent graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and my daughter’s good friend from when they both took a January session illustration class on the Big Island of Hawaii to draw endangered plants. Going to Hawaii to learn about sustainability in January instead of staying in Providence? That is a one-two combination that I can get behind!


Thank you, Mia, for sharing your BOXER BABY with us! I've got several wee ones in my life who love it. 

Today's ArtSpeak: FOLK ART poem is written as a Square Couplet, which is basically the same number of syllables per line as the number of lines. (Here it's eight lines of eight syllables each.) I'm revisiting work by George Voronovsky, and, after a very busy season, I find myself (again) writing what I need to learn. Thanks for reading!

Spring Reminder

Spring is a busy time, a let's-
get-things-done time. Spider spins, sun
simmers. Mushrooms pitch their tents.
Herons intercept schooling fish
as sailboats skim morning ripples.
Bluebells ring the nest awake—soon,
nestlings! Their gaping mouths will re-
mind us to slow down. Trust. Wait.

Friday, May 24, 2024

Writing Poems in the Wrong Season

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Michelle at More Art 4 All for Roundup.

First a word about Katey Howes, whom I had the privilege of sharing time with at Highlights in 2022. What a bright spirit, and what beautiful books she helped to create! It's difficult to process her passing. Sending love and hugs to all who mourn her.

The good folks at Highlights will be establishing a named scholarship fund in memory of Katey, but that link won't be available until next week. If you'd like to go ahead and send something, here's what to do:

Make a contribution to the General Scholarship fund and put a note about Katey in the comments section. 

And now: it's Spring, obviously. So why is my muse bringing me poems about FALL??

 I don't know, but I have learned to just roll with it. 

I am loving learning about folk artist George Voronovsky, who has some work on exhibit at the High Museum in Atlanta. I'll be writing after more of his art later this year. 

Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy this ArtSpeak: FOLK ART little blast of autumn! Thanks so much for reading.

it's fall, howl the hounds,
let's scuttle up flannel sky,
give Moon a snuggle

- Irene Latham

Friday, May 17, 2024

Gee's Bend quilt poem


Irene Latham & Mama
Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Patricia at Reverie for Roundup.

I acquired some new folk art last week at Homestead Hollow. And that got me thinking that I might enjoy writing some of my ArtSpeak: FOLK ART poems after pieces I've collected over the years! So, today, my poem is written after the small quilt we commissioned Gee's Bend quilter Mary Ann Pettway to create for us. (14 years since my first middle grade novel Leaving Gee's Bend was released, and I am still quilting and collecting quilts!) It hangs in our bedroom, and I adore it. The title "Going to Town without a Pocket" is what Mary Ann named the quilt. Such a great title, I had to use it!

Aside: Gee's Bend quilts have been in the news lately thanks to Target.

Before I share the poem, today's lovely PF hostess Patricia last week left a query in comments about how I use line breaks and (sometimes) right justification. How do I make these decisions? Here are my quick answers (thank you, Patricia, for asking!):

Regarding line breaks. In my opinion, the most important word on any line of poetry is the LAST word...because that word acts as a hinge, or a page turn. (The second most important word would be the FIRST word of the line!) You want to entice your reader forward to the next line, so the last word on a line is a great place for a powerhouse word!

 I REALLY don't like conjunctions (a, and, the) or prepositions as last words in the line...which is why I am super-picky about striking lines I choose for Golden Shovel poems. 

I'm also paying attention to natural pauses when saying the poem aloud in addition to line length as I break lines. I want the poem to have clarity and to LOOK pleasing on the page. 

I also really enjoy playing with enjambment -- I get a thrill out of lines that can mean multiple things and find this is a great way to add delight and surprise to a poem.

About justification of the poem. I pretty much always start out in my word doc with left-justified lines... and then (like last week) the lines may migrate as I work in Canva to digitally marry the art image and my poem. 

Sometimes the left-justified just doesn't look good, so I'll try right-justified or center-justified. And then I'm like, wow, I really like this! I should try this more often! 

One thing I love about this weekly ArtSpeak poetry practice is how it pushes me out of my comfort zone and gets me trying new things. It's a great place to be flexible and to be reminded of how much freedom we have as poets. Fun! Thanks so much for reading.

Going to Town Without a Pocket

No pocket for feathers,
petals, or perfect-for-
thumb-rubbing stones.

No coins, no toothpick.
No poem tenderly printed
and folded to give a friend.

My heart wide, swallowing
all that is fleeting:
moon, maple, morning.

I keep the world
under my eyelids, in my ribs.
All day I carry it with me.

- Irene Latham

Friday, May 10, 2024

Space Cat Poem

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit lovely Linda at A Word Edgewise for Roundup.

Isn't May full of all the things?! I'm away from my desk today, with my mom at an outdoor arts and crafts event. If we're lucky, we may even pop into a yard sale or two.

For today's ArtSpeak: FOLK ART poem, I've got a cat for you! It's not my first cat poem here at Live Your Poem...

I followed a little cat one day
What a Cat Needs
Three Black Cats
In the Company of Kittens
old cat wakes (haiku)
Cat's Life
cat on windowsill (haiku)
Cat Bath
Cat and Bird

But it is my first SPACE cat! Thanks so much for reading.

Space Cat

Have you ever seen

a cat like that?

Two surprised eyes

and whiskers wide

as starships,

her oversize ears

must hear the heart-

beat of the galaxy,

the patter of all

paws and claws

as she leaps from

one life to another.

- Irene Latham

Friday, May 3, 2024

Poems About Home

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit boundless Buffy Silverman for Roundup.

I've spent the week blessedly AT HOME gardening, reading, writing, cleaning...and lunching! Seems like every day I've had a lunch date. 'Tis the season!

If you want a peek inside my reading-as-a-writer life, be sure to check out my post over at Smack Dab in the Middle, where I share excerpts from a few MG books in my HUGE computer folder titled "Books I've Read." (Yes, recording beautiful words written by others is an important part of my life and writing practice!) Prepare to be inspired.

Also, this just in: check out the cover reveal of mine and Charles' debut anthology THE MISTAKES THAT MADE US (coming Oct. 1 from Carolrhoda/Lerner) over at Poetry for Children. So many thanks to Sylvia Vardell!

One of the books I'm excited about is HOME by Isabelle Simler, translated from French to English by Vineet Lal, brought to us by the good folks at Eerdman's. It contains 27 poems all about homes made by birds, ant, spider, sea snail...and each one has a home/human-made-building word in the title, like the comet moth's "Silky Apartment" or the cathedral termite's "Clay Skyscraper"  or elf owl's "Cactus Cabin." 

Isabelle Simler
The palette is kind of dark and enchanting, and each spread showcases realistic renderings of both animal and home. Back matter includes "More About These Amazing Animals" a Glossary, and a list of Recommended Resources. End papers charmingly show man-made home structures. Beautiful choice for animal/nature lovers and engineer/builders alike! Thank you to the publisher for granting permission for me to share two poems from the collection.


of the hummingbird

Family Trochiladae

My teeny-tiny

featherweight house

has grown under a leaf.

Over several weeks,

I've patiently gathered

numerous bits

of moss and lichen

and, little by little,

shaped my jewel case home.

In this doll's teacup of a nest

lin two hummingbird eggs,

each the size of a pea.

- Isabelle Simler


of the satin bowerbird

Ptilonorhynchus violaceus

I have a real flair for home decoration.

Azure bottle caps and petals catch my indigo eye

and excite the designer in me.

I've built an arched avenue from sticks and twigs.

I've painted the walls with berry juice

and stuck some flowers here and there.

My collection os objects is a garden of love.

At the blue hour, I shall make my entrance

to steal the heart of my beloved.

- Isabelle Simler

And now for today's ArtSpeak: FOLK ART. Since we're on the topic of "home," I've selected a piece by Cheryl Bartley that features a lake house. Thanks so much for reading!

Lake Cottage

This little house our ours
sits beside a lake full of stars.

Our garden grows rainbows,
thanks to sunsplash and rainglow.

How lucky we are to live
in a place with so much to give!

This little house of ours;
you and me, kissing the stars.

- Irene Latham