My Father’s Birthday was this week, he would have been 91 years old this year. He also passed away 4 years ago the week of Halloween. I think about him all the time, but I like to do some extra thinking about him this time of year… I wrote him this letter poem, I would have liked to do a sketch a little closer to the poem, but this sketch kinda gives you the same feeling as in the poem.
It smells like summer-mixed–fall Strange for almost mid-October But all’s slightly kittywampus Since covid-19 rolled in. I sure miss you– Your smile and love Your calls and care Your birthdays come again Maybe I’ll do some stargazing Maybe some stardust will drift Down Down Down high… up From way
And I’ll catch a piece of you on its way down
I close my eyes and remember our memories… I still remember… you running with me on my first two-wheeler was it red or blue? that little bike… You had to bend Down so low, but that didn’t bother you, you held on to my seat back I held on to my handle bars– hugging on for dear life You exhilarated with joy, excitement, and pride I exhilarated with fear, but gobs of desire
We did it! We did it together You let go I sailed away with wind-reddened cheeks Barreling down pavement Pedaling as if Air would lift Me up into sky, Into hope Into possibility And forever Into your heart
So Go out and catch some sun while it’s still warm, take in some nature, listen to Nina Simone, and if you haven’t already remember to Vote!
Stop by Janice Scully’s blog Salt City Verse for this weeks Poetry Friday roundup, for lot’s more poetry to fill you up, thanks for hosting Janice! Janice is hosting the roundup for the first time, and she’s sharing a poem inspired by holding onto some of our lovely summeriness and saving it for our approaching winter–sounds good to me…
Visit Renée LaTulippe at No Water River to find out more about what Poetry Friday is.
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!
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…
Happy Poetry Friday, Happy Fall and Happy Inktober!
I’m taking a break from the din of our world to share with you a summer poem swap from Ruth Hersey, and my response poem to Ruth–Many thanks Ruth, xo! Ruth wrote a series of cinquains for me, that she connected by having the last lines rhyme. Sending thanks again to Tabatha Yeatts for offering this lovely diversion each summer!
The ink drawing at the top is in celebration of the first day of #INKTOBER. It’s celebrated all over the world with artists and any one else that would like to participate and create ink drawings over the month. You can find out more about Inktober at Jake Parker’s Blog, he began this event back in 2009.
Michelle Sends out postcards Encourages voters Urges responsibility, Duty.
Happy Poetry Friday! (typed with a slight sigh, from this last week…)
What a week… This week for Poetry Friday there were two prompt suggestions. One came a while back from Tanita Davis one of the Poetry Sisters/Princesses. The prompt was to write a poem either using a hippo or “the word ‘ponderous’ in any poetic form.” Well a long time ago I had an encounter with a wonderful hippo named Peepo in either Greece or Spain. I started drafting a poem on this delightfully ponderous creature and will sometime return to it. Thought with the news of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing, I felt compelled to write a poem about this larger-than-life woman, who’s meant so much to me and so many others.
Our second prompt came from our Poetry Friday roundup host for this week Jone Rush MacCulloch–visit her at her new blog: Jone Rush MacCulloch. She’s asked us to write a poem that tells a story with mathematics or a poem honoring “a brave woman–” And hence my poem on RBG fits that well. Thanks for hosting Jone!
RBG FIGHTING FOR JUSTICE
Though ponderous obstacles lined RBG’s journey– Fighting for acts of justice captured and crystalized her thoughts and direction, and guided her life’s work.
Inspired by her heroine Eleanor Roosevelt, leading the newly formed “United Nations Commission on Human Rights.” RBG, while in eighth grade, began scribing her scales of justice, reaching for truths, as she wrote, our world now has a “fifth great document, the Charter of the United Nations,” which asks all of us to maintain “international peace and security,” to practice tolerance, and to suppress any acts of aggression or other breaches of peace.” We school children must take this lead in “the promotion of peace. We must “live together with one another as good neighbors.” For we now live in a world capable of annihilating itself.
RBG’s law school graduation with honors, left her unemployed due to her Jewish religion Female gender, and motherhood. But– She continued to persevere– She climbed higher and higher, through an apprenticeship, through teaching positions at Rutgers Law School, and Columbia Law School, through litigating trials, and her long awaited appointment as Federal Judge in 1980 by President Carter, and Second woman appointed to the US Supreme Court, in 1993, by President Clinton. RBG continued her advocacy for Women’s rights, gender equality, and leveling equality between men and women in the workplace. Taking on stardom stature, from her efforts, she worked relentlessly until her death
Her life suspended by thread, ready to recoil at any moment– She’s become a heroine who kept our hope going, our hope high, and our hope renewed– Let’s keep going
My postal lady stands at attention–
Warden style, pensive and alert–
Garbed in one of her multiple-well-fitted masks,
behind interweaving layers of
which guard her, and are
only interrupted at intervals
for human hands to pass packages
into her quasi-protected lair.
Although from our social-distant spot
she may appear unapproachable—
Don’t be fooled,
if you wait your turn
you may be surprised . . .
Watch her as she dutifully
intercepts and directs all
our precious pieces of mail.
She will, JUMP—
Though will never draw blood.
She did with me,
after handing me my
International mail form,
for my poetry package
off to another poet friend
Gruffly she said,
mail from our country sits for weeks
after arriving in another country . . .
I asked, “Can I come to the front
after filling out my form?” —“NO—Get back in…
I’ve been thinking about prayers as the Jewish High Holiday, Rosh Hashanah begins Friday at Sundown. I was also thinking about individuals that aren’t able to go outside and take in nature, and what I could offer them through a prayer.
PRAYER OF HARVEST
What can I harvest for you– Something to wet your palette While hidden within four walls, Something to awaken curiosity Stagnated by paltry interaction
I bring you humming bird’s sips Spreading joy within her hovering movements.
I bring you dahlia’s mid-September glory Painting her hues in all directions.
I bring you black oak’s jeweled acorns Waiting patiently for your marveled eyes.
What can I harvest for you– Something to rekindle your spiritual calling Left tethered for so long, Something to stir your love of beauty Abandoned and barely alive
I bring you prayers of generosity flown from Mount Sinai on tikkun olam wings.
I bring you abundance of family Rejoicing in moments of your life.
I bring you rescuers of nature Securing her for all generations.
Together let’s harvest love, compassion, and understanding Wherever you, and they dwell
Tikkun olam is the Hebrew phrase for “world repair.” It also takes in social justice and social action.
Wishing all that celebrate the Jewish high holidays Shana Tova, and a year full of peace, well being, and sweetness!
Matt Forrest Esenwine at his blog, Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme is hosting this weeks Poetry Friday roundup, thanks Matt! Matt is sharing a new poetry anthology by the late Lee Bennett Hopkins, NIGHT WISHES, and Lee’s poem Teddy Bear. Matt also has a poem included in the book.
Visit Renée LaTulippe at No Water River to find out more about what Poetry Friday is.
I signed up to send postcards to voters, to encourage people to vote, this is my first batch of postcards that I’ve mailed. If you are interested in joining you can check it out at their website: POSTCARDS TO VOTERS. There they share other volunteers postcards and provide guidelines to participate. It’s all an effort to get out the VOTE this November, and encourage all to Vote by Mail!
Since I have voting on my mind, this poem emerged…
45th EMPEROR OF THE UNITED STATES
Do you know our US Emperor of the United States? Do you know our US Emperor doesn’t wear any clothes? Though many masses are deluded to this enigma… Many hold him up high and mighty Many hold on to each of his 140 characters, As if they are kernels of wisdom Passed down from higher powers. Many uphold his unrighteous agenda– Perhaps it harkens back to our Holy Wars, And Constantine’s sky vision, “In hoc signo (in this sign you will win).” Has he become a golden calf, Worshipped upon a mountaintop? Coveted and protected by his zealous minions. Have right and wrong been road-sided, Truth abandoned and locked away. It’s time, It’s time now It’s time now for All people to catch sight of Our Emperor’s sullied nakedness– For our Fair lady Democracy To boldly take her reigns– It’s time now For citizens to Take their part in Democracy To fight for her, To uphold her, For all individuals– It’s time It’s time now– VOTE!
In August I received this dashing original art drawn Robot, card from none other than poet, writer, and artist, Laura Shovan. The postcard is from Co-op America. Isn’t he wonderful, and I love the front too, Many Thanks Laura! xo
Thoughts and prayers going out to all those anywhere near the wildfires in California, Oregon, and Washington.
Kiesha Shepard at her blog Whispers from the Ridgeis hosting this weeks Poetry Friday roundup, thanks for hosting Kiesha! Keisha is sharing two poems by the African American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, be sure to stop by.
Visit Renée LaTulippe at No Water River to find out more about what Poetry Friday is.
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.
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.
LITERACY’S CALL TO ACTION
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
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.
Heidi Mordhorst, poet, teacher, and activist extraordinaire is hosting this weeks Poetry Friday roundup at her blog my juicy little universe, thanks for hosting Heidi! Be sure to stop by for lots more poetry…
This week we in the Poetry Friday community were given a prompt by the Poetry Princesses, Poetry Sisters. The prompt was to write on Hindsight or Foresight. Thank you to all the Poetry Sister’s, Laura Purdie Salas, Tanita S. Davis, Liz Garton Scanlon, Tricia Stohr-Hunt, Kelly Ramsdell, Andi Sibley, and Sara Lewis Holmes for inviting us to write! If you’ve written to this prompt you can tag your poems #poetrypals.
With hindsight we are where we are today…
With hindsight we have failed to quiet covid-19
With hindsight we have failed to require wearing face masks
With hindsight we have failed to extend stimulus covid-19 funds
With hindsight we have failed to provide health care for all
With hindsight we have failed to put education first
With hindsight we have failed to help save our planet
set hindsight aside and
quiet covid-19 require wearing face masks extend stimulus covid-19 funds provide health care for all put education first help save our planet and
In just shy of two weeks on September 14th my Fall Online Art Classes begin via the Evanston Art Center. You can find all my classes with detailed descriptions and registration info at the Evanston Art Center.
I’m offering the following 6 week classes the first session starting the week of September 14th and the second session starting the week of October 26th: