Happy Poetry Friday!
Welcome, you’ve landed on the right branch! Today I’m so happy to share with you Irene Latham’s delightful new poetry book, THIS POEM IS A NEST, with lovely and fanciful art by Johanna Wright! It’s a Nest and nestling adventure that will take you to all different places… In her introduction Irene shares her experience watching a robin building her nest, and sees similarities in how “we poets spend much of our time nest building.” Irene wove together a seasonal series of “nest or source poems” and from this original grouping created what she calls “nestlings–” a mere total of 160 nestling poems took flight from her original nest. All of the words in her nestling poems come from the original words in her nest poem. The only restriction here is to keep the words in the order they came from the nest.
Part II of Irene’s book includes the “nestling” poems, and they are divided into sections including TIME, COLOR MY WORLD, ANIMALS AMONG US, ONLY HUMAN, FOR THE LOVE OF WORDS, PLACES SEEN AND UNSEEN, and (OUT OF) TIME.
I’ve invited Irene to fill us in on some of the how’s and choices behind her book, so let’s take a peek inside her process…
Fill us in on how you decided on your poem sections. Did the categories come first, the poems, or a little of both at the same time?
This collection started with an idea of using themed sections, like “colors” or “planets” or “continents.” Editor Rebecca Davis and I were interested in finding the whole world in this one “Nest” poem. But the collection expanded as I found more poems that begged for their own sections – and then our goal became to re-use in the nestlings every single word in the original “Nest.” So yes, it was a bit of both. I’m so grateful to Rebecca for giving me permission to grow this collection in that way!
Describe your writing process on the sections. Did any section stump you?
In general the whole book was created inside a spacious JOY bubble. It was an exhilarating experience to discover so many beautiful things in the nest… I still feel like I could write another 160 nestlings (or more!) from this one “Nest.” The section I most adored writing was the “Emotions” section. And when I saw Johanna’s illustrations… swoon! The “Alphabet Poems” were probably the most difficult, because I restricted myself to using only words that started with a specific letter.
What about the individual poems, did they take shape organically, or did you decide to use form or free verse? And was this decided as you were writing, before, or after?
The only rule I followed was the rule of found poetry: to make sure the words in the individual poems appear in the same order as they do in “Nest.” A couple of times when I was checking (and quadruple checking!) the poems, I found I’d transposed words – sometimes the poem no longer worked, which was sad! You’ll also notice I played a lot with spacing and line breaks. With poems so short and imagistic, these choices became even more important to me. I’m so grateful to Rebecca for giving me permission to simply follow my poetic instincts, wherever they may lead. My poet-self was really able to fly when given such freedom!
Did poems within sections feed off of one another?
Yes, in some sections more than others! For instance, the “Before and After” section was designed to have the poems in relationship to each other. In the “Poems to Mark the Day” section, once I thought of one “Middle of the Night Question,” I immediately wanted to try to find “Another Middle of the Night Question” — and I did!
I especially liked the section, For the Love of Words–WORDPLAY POEMS; and even more (out of) TIME–Ars Poetica Would you expand on one of these sections.
Thank you! One of the most fun things about having such a big collection of poems is hearing which poems speak most loudly to readers. The Ars Poetica section became like a love song to writing and to the poetry-writing process. I hope readers experience in these poems the joy, doubt and reward that I’m lucky enough to experience on a daily basis. Writing is a spiritual practice for me — a practice that both reveals me and also invites others to join me in a celebration of the miracle of a poetic life. Thank you so much, Michelle, for reading and for sharing about this book that’s so very special to me. Mwah!
All Poems by Irene Latham, © 2020 all rights reserved, and all art by Johanna Wright, © 2020 all rights reserved.
Thanks so much Irene for filling us all in on this scrumptious new poetry collection, I hope that I have wet a few of your appetite’s. My only regret is I would have liked to share more of Irene’s poems and Johanna’s art–But you’ll have to discover them on your own–Perhaps in a boat, cuddled up with the moon, or somewhere in a nesting spot of your imagination…
THIS POEM IS A NEST
by Irene Latham
Art by Johanna Wright
An Imprint of BOYDS MILLS & KANE
The Publisher has generously offered a free copy of THIS POEM IS A NEST. If you would like to be considered for this please leave a comment below and your email address. US addresses only.
I decided to try out a nestling poem myself. Mine is from Irene’s original nest poem for AUTUMN.
BREATHS OF MEMORY
wings and faith
© 2020 Michelle Kogan
Bridget Magee at her blog, wee words for wee ones is hosting this weeks Poetry Friday Roundup, thanks Bridget! I’m looking forward to her post…
Visit Renée LaTulippe at No Water River to find out more about what Poetry Friday is.