Poetry Friday–Celebrate Literacy Day with DICTIONARY FOR A BETTER WORLD

Happy Poetry Friday!

International Literacy Day is coming up on Tuesday, September 8th. What better way to begin celebrating it than with a wonderful book… I offer you DICTIONARY FOR A BETTER WORLD POEMS, QUOTES, AND ANECDOTES FROM A TO Z, by Irene Latham and Charles Waters, with illustrations by Mehrdokht Amini. This is a book for anytime but especially now, and a book for any age. I’ve been savoring it over the summer, taking my time and letting it all soak in slowly. It’s chock full of richness in poetry, poetic forms of all kinds, personal and heartfelt commentary by each author, intriguing quotes, and gorgeous art!

The table of Contents provides titles of poems focused on providing a poignant path through the alphabet and our ever present chaotic times. A few entries include: Acceptance, Belonging, Compassion, Create, Diversity, Dream, Forgiveness, (Epitaph For) Hate, Justice, Kindness, Mindfulness, and they continue on…

As Irene and Charles take turns with poems, they also identify and describe the form of poem they’ve written, include quotes by writers, artists, activists, and individuals of all walks of life, add their own unique comment connected to the poem, and then encourage the reader to dive in and Try it. The fullness of the book continues on as they’ve included an enticing collection of back matter including Recommended Books and Poetry Resources.

Irene has graciously given me the okay to share a poem. I’m sharing their poem VOICE, written by both Irene and Charles, it’s a poem for two voices.

VOICE, By Irene Latham and Charles Waters, from their book: DICTIONARY FOR A BETTER WORLD POEMS, QUOTES, AND ANECDOTES FROM A TO Z. A poem in two voices: written in two columns where two different characters converse about a subject.


Irene Latham and Charles Waters
Illustrations by Mehrdokht Amini
© 2020 Carolrhoda Books, Minneapolis

If you haven’t read DICTIONARY FOR A BETTER WORLD, I hope you will find a copy of it at your local library, bookseller, or online. It’s a timely and timeless book that offers much food for thought, inviting you to ponder and wonder in our full-to-the-brim world–to breathe, to cry, to dream, to be human and to raise your Voice.

Here’s a short acrostic poem of mine for Literacy day and raising one’s voice.


Lingering in literacy during our

Interlude with covid-19 has offered us

Time to challenge and begin changing racist inequities,

Embroiling over centuries, and band-aided in

Righteous 60s demonstrations–Only to be

Abandoned again to fester… But now it’s time to catch winds

Compass and raise your voice, your words

Your compassion–and finally begin to right these wrongs for all colors

© 2020 Michelle Kogan

Carol Varsalona at her blog Beyond Literacy Link is our host for this weeks Poetry Friday roundup, thanks Carol! She’s offering the beginnings to her Embraceable Summer Gallery–a simmering summer mix of poetry and art, be sure to stop by!

Visit Renée LaTulippe’s site No Water River to find out more about what Poetry Friday is.

About Michelle Kogan Art, Illustration, & Writing

Michelle Kogan is an artist, illustrator, instructor, and writer, creating colorful allegorical figure, flora and fauna paintings and children's illustrations, which have a sensitivity to endangered species, and the environment. She is an art instructor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Evanston Art Center and offers Plein Air Painting Workshops at nature venues in the Chicago area including the Lincoln Park Conservatory, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, and Lurie Gardens at Millennium Park. Visit her online Etsy Shop at: http://www.MichelleKoganFineArt.etsy.com and her website: http://www.michellekogan.com
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13 Responses to Poetry Friday–Celebrate Literacy Day with DICTIONARY FOR A BETTER WORLD

  1. cvarsalona says:

    Michelle, I do love Charles and Irene’s book and your post reminds me to continue reading it. Your own poem is a wonderful compliment and a call to action embodied in the Y statement. Keep on raising your voice.

  2. Dear Michelle, thank you for sharing our “Voice” here, and your voice, too! You are a champion for literacy and love and anti-racism. Thank you. xo

  3. Linda Mitchell says:

    Michelle this poem with it’s refrain, “Words have power” is spectacular! I love it. I agree that Dictionary is a book to savor. I have it next to my bed and I take in little bits at a time to ponder and to dream on.

  4. lindabaie says:

    I love Charles and Irene’s book, hope every classroom has a copy or at least is going to get several for the libraries. It fits every age, shows the breadth of what can be! Then, your compliment to them with your acrostic for literacy is powerful, Michelle. Two months from yesterday is the time we have to work so hard. Thanks for all!

  5. jama says:

    Thanks for featuring Irene and Charles’s book! I love it too, and keep going back to it for uplift and inspiration. It’s so rich and so well done. And thanks for your rousing Literacy’s Call to Action poem. Yes, we have our work cut out for us . . .

  6. janicescully says:

    I admire The Dictionary For a Better World so much! It’s a remarkable collection of poems. And your poem is a powerful call to action. “. . . time to catch wind’s/ Compass and raise your voice.” Great review and post.

  7. catch wind’s compass–LOVE that image. And this book is one of my favs of the past couple of years. Thanks for both, Michelle!

  8. maryleehahn says:

    I love how you used “compass” as a verb! “Compass your voice” INDEED!

    This book is a TREASURE…or a treasure chest, filled to the brim with riches.

  9. Kay Mcgriff says:

    I think I know which book I’m buying next–thank you for sharing Charles’ and Irene’s words in theiir poem and giving us a peek inside their book. And your poem in response is just right–it is time to raise our voices and take action to right wrongs that have festsered for too long.

  10. mbhmaine says:

    I love, love, love this book! My teaching partner and I are planning to use it extensively with our class this year. I still haven’t read through all of it, but every time I dip in, I emerge moved and richer from the experience. It’s such a treasure! “Literacy’s Call to Action” is a stirring poem, Michelle. (I also love how you used “compass”!) Thank you for your unflagging efforts to right wrongs and address problems.

  11. “Words have Power” – indeed! And your literacy poem is powerful. Yes, let’s “finally begin to right these wrongs for all colors”. Thank you for shining the spotlight on Irene and Charles’ beautiful book. 🙂

  12. Michelle, Thanks for bringing this book to my (our) attention! It looks wonderful! I will definitely check it out and maybe also purchase it. I have a book on my nightstand that I haven’t looked at yet and your post gave me the inspiration to check it out tonight so I can write a post similar in style to yours, tomorrow. Thanks, again!

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