Friday, March 24, 2023

When All is Lost (poem)

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit radiant Rose at Imagine the Possibilities for Roundup.

This weekend I'm attending SCBWI Southern Breeze conference in Atlanta! Charles and I will be presenting a couple of sessions—on How to Write Books with Multiple Narrators and also on Collaboration (& how to keep a friendship through it all!), and I'm traveling with two long-time writing buddies. Yay!

Today's poem arrived after a few days of admiring this art (another from the daily art calendar gifted me by my eldest son!) when I heard myself say, "I feel lost." I was talking about my writing life, and not knowing where to put my energy. And then, just about as soon as I said it, a little twinkle lit up my brain—an idea, a direction, a calling. And so I wrote this poem to capture that moment. Thanks so much for reading!


When All is Lost


crumple your maps,
pocket your compass

allow yourself
to sink
into darkness

whatever river
you're sailing—

whether waves
are whipping
or still—

somewhere, a blink
a twinkle

               this way

- Irene Latham

Friday, March 17, 2023

The Clearing (poem) + a Peek at My Poetry Revision Process

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit lovely Laura at Small Reads for Brighter Days for Roundup.

This week's ArtSpeak: Light is an amalgamation, as most poems are. 

The art itself "The Clearing" by Pierre-Auguste Renoir came from an art-a-day calendar gifted to me by my eldest son for Christmas... and the striking line of the Golden Shovel I crafted comes from Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet: "But soft what light through yonder window breaks?"

(I've been on a bit of a Shakespeare kick lately and recently bought for myself a book of Shakespeare quotations. I dip into it from time to time, and it always always finds a way into my writing.) 



The Clearing

You think you can't take another step, but

you do. Brambles soon give way to soft

pine needles lining a nest of sunshine. What

else can you do but guzzle unexpected light,

praise the boots that carried you through?

Impossibly you ignore the pull of yonder—

for a moment you are both sky and window,

a map into the place where despair breaks.

- Irene Latham

---

Okay. Now for that peek at my revision process, as promised in the title of this post.

This poem pleases me. I love that it gave me a reason to use the word "yonder." And "the place where despair breaks" ?? That's fresh and unexpected and I love it.

But I can already see how the Golden Shovel weakens this poem. 

Or rather, I can see how I could strengthen the poem by pulling it away from the Golden Shovel form. 

Example: see that "through" on the 5th line? A stronger line would end with the word "you." But because it's a Golden Shovel, I'm stuck! Also, Golden Shovels are notorious for clunky line breaks. I would break these lines completely differently if not for the form.

In my mind, I have 3 options: 

1. Keep the Golden Shovel, which is what I've done for today, due to time constraints. 

2. Answer the question "through What?" and change the 6th line (and possibly entire rest of poem). That could be interesting...and I could keep the Golden Shovel.

3. Deconstruct completely by pulling it out of the form, and see what happens! Whenever I have time, I'm going to give it a try.

I mention all this because poems that could be strengthened by pulling away from form is something I see A LOT when considering poems for Birmingham Arts Journal. Forms a great and fun, and can lead to some wonderful poems. But sometimes they are best just used as a starting place. 

And that's my unsolicited poetic advise for today. 😊 Thanks so much for reading!

Friday, March 10, 2023

When Light and Water Meet...and Jessica Whipple!

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit blue-bungalow-Heidi at my juicy little universe for Roundup.

First, I must share the new graphic Highlights sent over, so that everyone knows Carole Boston Weatherford will be joining us at our Poetry for Kids session April 16-19! I know several Poetry Friday friends will be there, and we are so, so lucky to learn from her. Join us!


I do have a new ArtSpeak: Light poem for you. But first I'm excited to have a special guest today at Live Your Poem: Jessica Whipple, author of ENOUGH IS...(illus. by Nicole Wong, coming April 18, 2023, from Tilbury House). Preorder your signed copy here! (Readers, I've seen an ARC on Netgalley. It's wonderful!)

Jessica Whipple
(photo by Nick Gould)
Jessica and I became acquainted when she submitted a poem for mine and Charles' anthology IF I COULD CHOOSE A BEST DAY: POEMS OF POSSIBILITY. (Illus. by Olivia Sua, coming from Candlewick 2025.) 

We weren't able to publish Jessica's poem, but she did something I really admire. Upon rejection, she wrote back and asked for feedback. How could she improve the poem?

Now you know that set my poet-heart thumping! A poet going the extra mile, working to improve her craft...so of course I offered feedback, and do you know Jessica went on to publish that poem someplace else?! Yep, that's the kind of writer she is.

And now she's just welcomed her debut picture book into the world. Congratulations, Jessica! Please read on to find out more about Jessica, her life, and this book, as she responds to a few simple prompts. 

Welcome, Jessica!


The difficult?

JW: The concept is a tough one to get down to picture-book size, but that was my goal and hope from the start. I'm grateful to Tilbury House who matched me with Nicole Wong so we could each tackle the vision for the book! Kirkus and some early Goodreads and NetGalley reviewers feel we've successfully simplified the concept, so hooray! Still, the book lives beyond the page in the conversations readers have with kids to get them thinking about how much *is* enough, and what does that look like--because it's different in every situation. We also needed to speak about and depict it in a way that's relevant to kids, which, of course, is what all kidlit authors are wrestling with. 

The delicious?

JW: I'm thrilled with the reception the book has been getting from readers, reviewers, podcasters, and interviewers. It really has been wonderful to hear that Enough Is... is a book many adults, caregivers, and teachers hope to use to introduce contentment to children. 

The fresh?

JW: Throughout the process of writing, querying, pitching, and submitting this manuscript and my others, I've learned the latent power each of us has in just *asking* for things. As long as we're honest, respectful, grateful, and humble, many people want to help along the length of the book publishing timeline... and beyond. You're one of them, Irene! It's all a truly beautiful example of community.

---
Aww, thanks, Jessica. So happy this book is in the world!

And now for my poem. Last week, Karen Edmisten mentioned something in comments about light and water sharing some similar traits. That got me thinking...what happens when Light and Water meet? And then I've got Jessica talking about "enough"...and so my mind did leap!



When Light Meets Water

here, light whispers,
take these clouds

dance with me,
water says,
and sends up
a thousand ripples

they spark and dip,
kissing all hours

more, say the lilies,
their bellies warm,
their petals reaching,
reaching—

-Irene Latham

Friday, March 3, 2023

If You Put Light in a Box (poem)

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Tanita at {fiction, instead of lies} for Roundup.

Y'all, it's MARCH! Yay! This week I was a celebrity in my own county, when Charles and I made the front page of our weekly paper, The Blount Countian. 

Friends, Paul and I love where we live! But having lived here for a mere five years, we are outsiders, and always will be. (Some can trace their lineage in this county for more than 6 generations!) It feels like an important moment for my community to embrace me in this way... so many thanks to Jim Kilgore for writing the article.

Also, I got to get a little crafty with my Master Gardener friends. We were asked to put in a display in the foyer at Oneonta Public Library. We went with a "ready to grow" theme. So much fun!


In online news, you're invited to read my post over at Smack Dab in the Middle about 7 Quotes from THE WAR OF ART that will inspire your warrior-writer...and a question from that book that can be a guiding light. 
 
Today's ArtSpeak: Light poem is one that came in a rush. There's a bit of "nobody puts Baby in a corner" in it. Also, these days, I've been trying not to think so much and just be in my life as it unfolds. 

Wise words I return to often are these: "You're either in your head, or you're in your life." And I want to be in my life!

What if our only purpose really is to be present? To shine? 

Like light.




If You Put Light in a Box

it doesn't beg
or complain

instead creeps
so quietly
through cracks

irrepressibly
streaming
through seams

worries
are swallowed,
fear dissolves

yesterday
is tomorrow
is today

as light carves a path
as light unfolds

- Irene Latham

Thanks so much for reading. 💜

Friday, February 24, 2023

sky a ripe peach (poem)

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit beautiful Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference for Roundup.

This week's ArtSpeak: Light poem is inspired by a sunset...and peaches! 

As a genuine Georgia Peach (born in Georgia), and because my granddaddy made sure his grandchildren had the best fresh peaches (Elberta peaches, anyone?), peaches pop up in my poems from time to time.

Aside: did you know it's incredibly hard to farm peaches? Peach trees need near constant attention! So next time you bite into a beautiful, sweet peach, remember those very dedicated farmers. I'll be getting my peaches this year from Indian Creek Peach Farm.

Can you tell I've got gardening on my mind?? 

This week I attended a workshop on Community Gardens, and I also put in my lettuce seed. Yay!

Back to this latest peach-y poem. My favorite peach poem of all time is "From Blossoms" by Li-Young Lee. It begins:

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward   
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.


Such joy! So I knew I wanted to include joy in my poem. Thanks so much for reading.




sky a ripe peach
juicy light dribbles down our chins
warm, sticky joy

- Irene Latham

Friday, February 17, 2023

A Writer's Prayer (poem)

Mama, me & Lynn

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit beautiful Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone for Roundup.

February has been full to bursting, as it usually is for me. My sister and I took our mom to Graceland, because it was on her bucket list. We had a great time singing Elvis songs and shopping thrift stores. Oh, and we rode in a pink Cadillac. :)

While in Memphis, Charles and I were notified that AFRICAN TOWN was awarded the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction! Of all the things I write, historical fiction is the genre I return to most often...AND I have always always loved reading historical fiction. I can remember going to the library as a girl and looking specifically for Scott O'Dell-winning books. So it's quite a happy thing, and we're so grateful to the committee for recognizing this story of the Clotilda shipmates' resilience, triumph, and creativity. I'm on a social media break, so special thanks to those who have reached out - it means so much! And just look at that lovely gold seal! Kossola is somewhere smiling...


Today's ArtSpeak: Light poem is inspired by a piece of art that I could just stare at for days. I love this painting by Rembrandt, and how it reminds me of Shel Silverstein's "A Light in the Attic." I played for quite a few pages before I latched on the idea of making a writer's prayer. Maybe you can relate?? Thanks so much for reading!




A Writer's Prayer

O Light, awaken my Imagination

O Courage, deliver these Words from shadow

O Fire, warm me when page goes Cold

O stairway of Hope, lead on!

- Irene Latham

Friday, February 10, 2023

The Trick of the Candlestick (poem)

flame, just starting to grow

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

I have been running behind all week, so I am late getting this poem written and posted...AND I am away from my desk (again). 

But it's all good! Earlier this week we got out on the lake, and we also enjoyed the fire pit. Perfect for my "light" year, yes? 

This week's ArtSpeak: LIGHT poem is a miniature, and instead of using a title, I decided to go Emily Dickinson and just jump right into the poem with no title at all. (How do you feel about title-less poems??) Thanks so much for reading!




the trick
of the candlestick
is simple—
you oh so gently 
               blow,
it says hello

you spit,
it quits.

- Irene Latham

Friday, February 3, 2023

Forgiveness poem

Hello and happy Poetry Friday! It's February—my most favorite month! :) Be sure to visit lovely Laura's Blog for Roundup. 

A couple of newsy things:

Irene, Carol, Charles
at Highlights Oct. 2022
1. AFRICAN TOWN is now available in paperback! Yay! Charles and I hope this means more readers find this powerful story of resilience and family.

2. Charles Waters and I will again be teaching (with special guest Carol Hinz!) on campus at Highlights Foundation. Our workshop is called Poetry for Kids: A World of Publishing Possibilities. Join us April 16-19! 

3. You're invited to check out my new post up at Smack Dab in the Middle entitled "On Time, Sacrifice, and Difficult Choices in the Writing Life." Thank you!

Today's ArtSpeak: Light poem features... snow. And forgiveness, which—whether for others or for ourselves—is rarely an easy thing. But sometimes it just...happens. Like snow. xo



Sometimes Forgiveness Comes Like a Spring Snow

all hush,
no hurry

you wake
to glints
and glimmering

the old wounds
swaddled
in downy light

morning
welcoming you
back to yourself

yet again

- Irene Latham

Friday, January 27, 2023

Self-Portrait, Early Morning (poem)

 

Sunset Point
Key Colony Beach, FL

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit dear Jan at bookseedstudio for Roundup. 

Like many in our community, I'm excited for Monday's ALA Youth Media Awards, which of course is always such an inspiring opportunity to celebrate books we've loved and also to add new titles to the never-ending TBR stack! Love love love.

This week's ArtSpeak: Light poem turned into a self-portrait. It's inspired by The Artist's Sister at a Window by Berthe Morisot. 

Most poems, probably, are self-portraits, at least a little bit, because of what the words/thoughts/images reveal about the poet who wrote it. I guess self-portraits are more direct, more intentional about what they are revealing? 

For the past several years I have studied a lot about awareness and the seat of consciousness—lots of meditation and mind-training and surrender. (Michael Singer, anyone?) This poem speaks to some of that. Thanks so much for reading. 



Self-Portrait, Early Morning

no surging
thoughts

no billowing
feelings—

I simply
sit

in the world
of the moment

unfolding
before me—

this window,
this world

that requires
nothing

of me—
not fingers,

mouth,
nor mind—

I am
morning,

I am
light

- Irene Latham

Friday, January 20, 2023

Called by Light (poem)

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Marcie (who is simply amazing!) for Roundup.

After a busy holiday season and working VERY HARD on a big revision of my adult novel, as well as providing virtual school visits and tending to multiple kidlit deadlines...today I am away from my desk, having an adventure with Paul and Rosie.

You could say today I'm living my 2023 OLW, which is "space." I'm open to experiencing many more days like this in the months to come! 

In fact, I'd like to be brave enough to claim one day a week for "doing nothing." No plans, no agenda. Just let the day unfold. No work on current (writing, household, or whatever) projects allowed. Can I give myself this kind of space on a regular basis? Can I offer myself that much kindness, to just "be" instead of always doing? 

As it is with starting pretty much anything, I think I'll begin with a smaller chunk of time (maybe an hour a week?) and grow my courage from there.

In other news, a couple of firsts: 

1. We saw a live local community theater production of CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF. Community theater is my favorite! These actors bring so much passion to their performances, and the venues are generally small and cozy, and there's always something fun and unexpected. This time it was a "split the pot" raffle ticket sale during intermission. Patrons could buy a raffle ticket for a dollar, and then at the end of the show a winner was drawn. The pot was split between that winner and the theater company. Pretty great, right? (No we didn't win! But I'm totally stealing that idea for other nonprofits I'm involved with!)

2. I made creme brulee at home, from scratch, and it was delicious! It only took me a year. :) Last year for my birthday one of our sons gave me one of those little kitchen torches. I did some research, and I realized that I needed all sorts of other supplies: the little dishes, for one...and also ingredients like vanilla beans and vanilla sugar. I didn't even know vanilla sugar was a thing! Well, now I do, and for Christmas I got everything else I needed. I have now made my creme brulee, and you can bet I will be making it again. I mean, I do have about fifteen vanilla beans left. :)

This week's ArtSpeak: Light poem grew out of last week's poem. 

Remember how I was saying I was enamored of that Rockwell painting title "And the Symbol of Welcome is Light"? Well, that has been in my brain for days now, and I wanted to somehow use the idea, but make it my own (of course!). And this week I did! 

ALSO: You'll notice in this poem I include something that's not actually in the art. "Outside the frame" thinking is one of my favorite ways to approach ekphrastic poetry, and I guess it was especially on my mind, as one of my most recent virtual school visits (hello Villa Madonna poets!) was on the topic of writing poems inspired by art. So there you go! Thanks so much for reading.




called by light

and the scent of tomorrow

bee crawls inside


- Irene Latham

Friday, January 13, 2023

3 Ways of Looking at a Night Party (poem)

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Susan at Chicken Spaghetti for Roundup.

Shout-out to our youngest son Eric whose birthday is today. (Ever since he was born on the 13th, I have adopted 13 as a Very Lucky Number...even when it falls on a Friday. :)

For this week's ArtSpeak poem, I kind of fell in love with the title of Norman Rockwell's "And the Symbol of Welcome is Light." I wanted to work those words into the poem, but then that felt a little like cheating! I decided to challenge myself. Here's where I landed. (I may honor Rockwell's title in a future poem!)



3 Ways of Looking
at a Night Party


Moon whispers
to her cloud-sisters—
here I am!

Paper lanterns
hung from branches
lean into breeze—
follow me!

Lamplight shatters
doors and windows,
reaches across the dark—
there you are!

—Irene Latham

A little more backstory about the poem: Once, a long time ago, someone told me (or I read in a book) that there are two kinds of people in the world—the ones who walk into a party and say, "here I am!" and the ones who walk into the same party and say, "there you are!" I know exactly which one I am. What about you?

Friday, January 6, 2023

SPACE & LIGHT for 2023

 Hello and happy first Poetry Friday of 2023! Be sure to visit the ever-inspiring Catherine at Reading to the Core for Roundup.

This is my 16th year to choose One Little Word to guide and inspire my year. It's a spiritual practice I'm quite attached to. Each year so far I have created a quilt block to commemorate the word and the year, and a few months ago I realized I had enough squares to make a "sampler" twin size quilt...so, voila! 


My One Little Word list (so far)

2008 joy

2009 listen

2010 celebrate

2011 deeper

2012 fierce

2013 sky

2014 mystery

2015 wild

2016 delight

2017 abundance

2018 behold

2019 happy

2020 red

2021 bewilderment

2022 whimsy

Now I am not sure how I will commemorate this year and/or the coming years. I love cumulative projects, and I love quilts...but do I want another word quilt...or do I want to create something else?? I'd love to hear your suggestions!

The word I've selected for 2023 is a bit...odd. And open to interpretation. And it came from my dear friend Summer Laurie, who was the very first person in children's publishing who saw something in my writing and encouraged me to keep going! (We met at an SCBWI conference many moons ago, where she was presenting as an editor for now-defunct Tricycle Press. We had a one-on-one critique of a middle grade novel ms, and Summer requested the full ms! That book never got published, but Summer and I have kept in touch over the years, and she continues to be a huge supporter and person I'm proud to call friend!)


Aside: Summer edited a gorgeous verse novel that came out last year: WAVE by Diana Farid. It was recently recognized (along with AFRICAN TOWN! Thank you, committee!) as a Cybils Verse Novel Finalist. Don't miss it! (These other titles are wonderful, too. I've read and loved all of them!)

Back to my 2023 OLW. 

In my lastest Adventures in Ink e-newsletter, I asked for suggestions regarding my ArtSpeak theme, and Summer wrote back with "Space." 

Space, as in the moon, Mars, constellations, black holes...and perhaps also because I have a moon book of poems coming this year, called THE MUSEUM ON THE MOON: CURIOUS OBJECTS ON THE LUNAR SURFACE. 

More on this soon! Some of you know I am a NASA/Space junkie, and I'm super-excited about the Artemis program...so fun to be able to bring this passion to a book of poems for kids!


Anyway...I instantly latched onto this words not for ArtSpeak, but for my One Little Word. It's got me thinking about space in the celestial sense obviously. 

Space in the physical sense, as in my writing space, my space in the world, and natural spaces, like caves, forests, meadows, lakes... 

Space in relationships. 

The space between us.

 Negative space. Space in poetry. Space in music.

 Empty space. Peaceful space. 

I'm a person who needs a lot of space, privacy, distance...and then there is nothing that means more to me than closing those distances to be with the ones I love...no space! 

With all those things in mind, I'm excited to explore and discover more about my own personal relationship to Space in the coming year.

About my annual ArtSpeak project: this year I have decided to focus on LIGHT. 


I know! It's another vague/open word! This is what I need in my life right now, apparently. And when I think about the art that moves me most, it often has to do with light. 

I'm fascinated by how artists use light as a tool, how it guides the eye and the composition. 

There are so many kinds of light: moonlight, starlight, lighthouse, candlelight, sunlight, a certain slant of light, light at the end of the tunnel, and so many more!

Light is such a great metaphor for so many things, and when I think about what I crave and enjoy on a daily basis, it's light, lightness, illumination... 

When I think about the best gift we can give the world, it's us, ourselves, shining our own special kind of light....

So lots of poetic potential, yes? 

And also some challenges: what fresh/new can I bring to poems inspired by/related to light? 

I'm trusting the universe (light!) here and just going with it. We'll see what happens! 

For today's offering, I've got Edvard Munch's Moon Light...and obviously had the hinge of the new year on my mind. Thanks for reading!


moon extends its knife

slices night-rumpled waters—

what was, what's to come

-Irene Latham

Friday, December 30, 2022

Playing with AI Poetry

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

So, I've been hearing so much about art that can be created using AI, that I decided I wanted to play around some with poetry. More specifically, I wanted to know: Can ChatGPT write a decent poem?

Here's what I found out:

YES! 

When I typed in, "Poem about horses," here's the poem that was generated in oh, about five seconds:


Horses, majestic beasts of grace and might, 

Their manes flowing in the wind, a beautiful sight.



With hooves pounding the earth, they run with wild abandon, 

Their powerful muscles rippling, a sight to expand on.



Their eyes, intelligent and wise, seem to look right through you, 

As if they know your secrets, and all that you do.



They are creatures of the wild, yet also tamed by man, 

Loyal companions, and a joy to understand.



So here's a little poem, to honor these fine steeds, 

May they always run free, and fulfill all their needs.


....so, the AI program thinks poems should rhyme, yes? And it included some basic facts about horses, which is nice... though the poem itself is kinda clunky (as many forced-to-rhyme poems are). I can see a middle school student turning this in, can't you?

Since I've been writing a lot of haiku lately, I decided to try, "haiku about the new year." After I got the first response, I hit the "regenerate" button, just to see what would happen. The results reveal one of the weaknesses of AI poetry. Read on!


Haiku #1:

Fresh start, new year

Hope and possibility bloom

Leaves of the future




Haiku #2:

A new year begins

Fresh starts, new hopes and dreams

Leaves of the past fade



Haiku #3:

Fresh start, new year's dawn

Resolutions, hope, and renewal

Leaves of the past turn




Haiku #4:

Fresh year, new start

Leaves of the past fall away

Embrace the unknown


Okay. What's up with the "leaves?" Is this the only nature image that AI can find to fit my search requirements?  Also, each one includes rather mundane words like, "fresh" "year"  "new" "start" "hope" "past"... 

I do love the message of Haiku #4. Yes, language is expected, but it works. 

Which is your favorite?

So, my conclusions are these

1. Poetry still needs humans.
 
2. If a poet is feeling stuck, AI might be a useful tool to get the creative juices flowing. 

3. One way to "check" on the uniqueness of our own poems might be to run an AI chat like this one. If our poem-draft has these messages or these particular words, we might need to dig a bit deeper.

And now, I give you my final ArtSpeak: Animals poem! This has been such a fun series to work on. 

I started the year writing poems about virtues, and how they might be represented by animals. 

I discovered the Picasso line drawings in summer, and that kept me going for a while. 

These last weeks have taken on an additional "red," theme, which is something I keep coming back to.... apparently I am really drawn to art that features red! 

More than half the poems I wrote were haiku (not my intention, just something that happened)! Today's poem is is both red and a haiku...and is how I'm feeling as we move into the new year. Yay!


the sky is burning
crows carry dreams on their wings
it's enough

-Irene Latham



Thank you for following along. I've very excited to see what adventures 2023 brings for all of us! xo

Thursday, December 22, 2022

All I Want For Christmas is a Poem

 Hello and welcome to Poetry Friday Roundup on this Christmas Eve eve! 

If you've got poetry to share, please leave your link below. 

And if you simply want to read all things poetry, welcome to our Poetry Friday neighborhood! All are welcome to click your way down our happy little street.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Two fun things I've done to celebrate this Advent season: 

1. enjoyed a cheese a day in an Advent Cheese box I bought at Aldi. Lots of variety, including a fun red pesto gouda that was like having an entire pizza in one bite. :)

2. read a poem a day for children in this Advent Poe-tree created by the good folks at Poetry by Heart. (Instead of one a day, you can now read almost all of them all at once!)

Hope your holiday and every day includes whatever joys make YOU smile!


For today's Roundup, I've got a special little something for you, and her name is Molly! She's a homeschool student who loves poetry, both reading it and writing it. She and I have corresponded via email and snailmail for a couple of years now, and I have loved watching her writing grow! 

This month Molly shared with me about the things she's doing to nurture her writing life, including finding a writing community of other young writers! starting a blog!...and she sent a small book of her poems. It totally made my day! And now she and her parents have graciously give me permission to share two of my favorite poems from the book with all of you. 




Your will is wonderful
You are sewing my quilt of life
I am but thread on a spool

- Molly

Many of you know I am a sucker for a textile/sewing metaphor...isn't that last line marvelous?!



A cold nose

There was a man

And he was old

He took a walk

But it was cold

Right away

Off fell his nose

It's quite a good thing

That his wife sews


- Molly

Ha! Another sewing reference, and such a fun story...it reads like a nursery rhyme, doesn't it?

I also invited Molly to respond to some simple prompts about her experience writing this book. Without further ado, here's Molly!

The Difficult:

The most difficult challenge about writing my poetry book was probably in perfecting the poems themselves.  I would have an idea or thought that I wanted to portray, as well as a rhyming pattern that I wanted to use but would sometimes get stuck trying to find the right words.  Once I did, the rest of the poem just slid from my fingers.

The Delicious:

The best part about writing my book was in knowing that I write for God.  These poems are a way I glorify Him as well as an attempt to help the reader.

The Fresh:

Something I learned while writing this book, is that poetry is an amazing way to process thoughts.  While restricting you to using verses and potential rhyming, it gives you the freedom in being able to really put meaning and thought into what you want to portray. 

-----

Poetry IS "an amazing way to process thoughts," isn't it?! I think it's why many of us can't NOT write. We need poetry. Writing poetry is an act of self-care, a way to grow and to deepen all the days of our lives.

So many thanks to Molly and her parents for allowing me to share these gifts. I won't be surprised at all when we see Molly's books in stores one day. 


For my ArtSpeak: Animals contribution, I decided to take a walk in the forest...just one more animal poem to go, then onto 2023! Wheee! 


lost in the forest

not knowing which is flower,

which is hummingbird

- Irene Latham


Friday, December 16, 2022

Lion and Sun (poem)

 

Nelson Grice, Miss Fancy,
and Irene Latham

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

I've heard several of you teacher-poets talk about moments with students, or former students, when you realize you had an impact on a person's life—how gratifying that is, and what inspiration to continue the work. I had a moment like that this past week! 

It happened at the Miss Fancy event, which was perfectly delightful in every single way. But the best part was talking to Nelson Grice, the sculptor of the new Miss Fancy statue. He said that while he was researching, he read MEET MISS FANCY, and it was then that he decided one of the children riding Miss Fancy's back needed to be African American. (!) 

No, that didn't happen in the real history. But this is 2022, not 1913, and we as artists have the freedom (and responsibility!) to create art that represents ourselves and our feelings and our times. I'm so humbled that a book I had a part in made a difference in someone's thinking, and that something so beautiful and lasting came out of it. Click to watch video coverage of the unveiling. (The children on Miss Fancy's back are more visible in the video than in my photo.)

For this week's ArtSpeak: Animals, I've got a lion for you! I love the name of this piece: The Two Majesties by Jean-Leon Gerome so much that I decided to steal "majesties" and put it in my poem! 

Aside: are you a fan of the Netflix show THE CROWN? This latest season has been particularly heartbreaking, perhaps because I remember all that drama playing out in real time... and the actress who plays Diana is amazing!

(Current show we're watching: Yellowstone. I have to close my eyes a lot.)

Here's the poem. Thank you for reading. See you next week, when Roundup is here at Live Your Poem!



as morning crowns

lion and sun are twin majesties

roaring, roaring

- Irene Latham

Friday, December 9, 2022

Coral Snake poem

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Michelle at Michelle Kogan for Roundup.

I've got India on my mind—because our youngest son is traveling to south India (Bangalore) tomorrow. He'll be gone for three weeks, so we'll celebrate Christmas a week late when he returns. I'm excited for him and can't wait to hear about his adventures!

Tomorrow I'll be taking part in the MISS FANCY festivities at Avondale Park 10 am - 1 pm. They'll unveil and dedicate the new life-sized statue of Miss Fancy at 11 am, and I'll be there with the good folks at Thank You Books signing copies of MEET MISS FANCY. Thanks to Avondale Library, there will also be a storywalk of the book through the park. I'm excited! 

For ArtSpeak: Animals I wrote quite a few coral snake poems. I'll leave you with two that share a "river" theme! Thanks so much for reading. Thanks also for your suggestion regarding 2023 ArtSpeak theme. I think I've decided! 😊


coral snake winding
along Amazon canyon
thinks she's a river

- Irene Latham


As shadows deepen
coral snake is all muscle
and splash—red river

- Irene Latham


Friday, December 2, 2022

Maple Tree Magic (poem)

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Catherine at Reading to the Core for Roundup.

Goodness, how can it be December?? And how can our middle son be turning 26 today?? Happy birthday, sweet Andrew! (PF Friends, Andrew was the biggest baby in the nursery that day -- 9 lbs,, 15 oz! -- and today he has the biggest heart of anyone I know! I'm so lucky to be his mom.❤️)

Today's ArtSpeak poem was inspired by this beauty in our front yard:


No wonder the following art caught my eye when I was cruising animal paintings at wikiart.org!



two birds disappear,
re-appear amid crimson stars—
maple’s fall magic

- Irene Latham

Just four more animal-art poems to write for this year's theme (though today's poem might be more of a tree-poem-with-birds than a bird-poem-with-tree!)...what should be my theme for next year? Thinking... 

Thanks so much for reading! 

Friday, November 25, 2022

Quandry, Quarry, Quarrel (poem)

This post brought to you by the letter Q!

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday on this day after Thanksgiving! Be sure to visit Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town for Roundup.

This week I've got some hunting dogs for you! I, myself, have zero experience hunting irl, so for this poem, I decided to "hunt" for language, images, and meaning that would make hunting relatable for non-hunting folks like me. 

What did I find? Some great "Q" words! Thanks so much for reading.



Quandry, Quarry, Quarrel


Who could have predicted
the boat would mosey
this far from shore?

Not clutch of dogs
tense from morning's hunt

not ducks alert
amid thick nest of reeds.

Someone—
perhaps distracted
by blazing maples—

let the knot slip, or
never tied it at all.

How easily we break—

all of us waiting
for the next whistle.

- Irene Latham