Thursday, July 10, 2014

Limerick Alley: Irene Latham

There's no doubt about it, writing can be a beast. 

Award-winning author and poet, Irene Latham, offers some advice to writers on her website:
The thing about writing is there is no end to it. No piece is ever finished. They are all works in progress. Forever.
I am continually astonished by the effort it takes to tame words.  Good writing comes off as spontaneous, yet it rarely is.  

Please help me welcome Irene to Limerick Alley today.

Irene has never been one to duck a challenge,

sit idly by,

or walk away from hard work

in favor of a soak in the pool

or an afternoon catnap.  

Oh no, not while there are poems to be written 
and stories to be told!

These animal photos were all taken on a recent critter tour up north.  From Florida, we drove up to Toronto to visit the black squirrels...

and then stopped by the Philadelphia Zoo on the way back home.

The reason I mention this is because Irene has been celebrating the paperback release of DON'T FEED THE BOY by inviting readers to visit a zoo this summer.  Take a picture of yourself at the zoo (bonus entry for you with a zoo animal) and send it to her via social media:


Facebook author page

(I took a selfie with a giraffe, but unfortunately his eyes were closed.  So I sent in one of my daughter with some flamingos instead.) 

Everyone who contributes a picture will be entered to win a classroom set (25 copies) of DON'T FEED THE BOY in paperback.  Entries must be received by July 31st; winner to be announced on August 1st.

But what does any of this have to do with limericks, you ask?  Well, I'll let Irene explain:

Why I Write Poetry

Sometimes a poem stirs mystery,

sometimes it reveals history.
I tumble in love,
it's all I think of –
even when the poem tortures me.

© 2014 Irene Latham.  All rights reserved.

One of the things I appreciate most about Irene is that she always writes (and speaks) from the heart. So why do writers write if the act of doing so might bring pain and anguish? Because we love writing, says Irene. 
Remember at its best, writing is a love affair with words. And you might be the only one who sees the beauty in your object of affection. But if you do nothing else, you must Share. That. Beauty.

Another characteristic I appreciate about Irene is that she is good for just about any challenge you throw at her. When Irene sent me her limerick, she recognized that it wasn't perfect, but she was okay with that. She thanked me for the opportunity, then added "...pretty sure I would have never written a limerick otherwise." And that, my friends, is what Today's Little Ditty and our monthly ditty challenges are all about!  
Have you seen this month's ditty challenge from Tamera Will Wissinger?

Coming September 1, 2014
And I'll tell you what is close to perfect: 

Two starred reviews from School Library Journal and Kirkus for Irene's upcoming collection of children's poetry, DEAR WANDERING WILDEBEEST: AND OTHER POEMS FROM THE WATER HOLE!  I'm delighted to be able to feature Irene as my spotlight author for September when DEAR WANDERING WILDEBEEST is released by Millbrook Press.

Thank you, Irene, for visiting Limerick Alley today and sharing a bit of your writerly wisdom.  I look forward to featuring more of your beautiful personality and thought-provoking poetry at summer's end!

Linda at Write Time is taking center stage today with the Poetry Friday roundup.


  1. I'm really looking forward to reading DEAR WANDERING WILDEBEEST! Congratulations to Irene on its upcoming release. And I love that black squirrel, Michelle.

  2. Thanks for featuring Irene, Michelle. I've enjoyed her poems for adults as much as her work for kids. Can't wait to read her latest book!

    Seriously, that black squirrel. The red eyes. He's pretty scary.

    1. You can thank the camera for the red eyes, of course. In person they're much cuter!

  3. This is a terrific post, Michelle! Your photos from the zoo make me want to head to the Bronx. When my boys were young we went there all the time, but I haven't been in years. (Also don't think I'll be able to get there before the end of July.) Thank you for sharing Irene's wise words about writing. They've inspired me to keep going with some words that are torturing me this morning!

    1. Thanks Catherine. I used to go to the Bronx Zoo as a child as well. What's cool about the Philadelphia Zoo is that they now have overhead walkways for the animals (a treetop trail, a great ape trail, and a big cat crossing) so that the animals can explore the grounds, and the visitors, a bit more. Brings a new perspective to who's viewing who.

  4. (I, too, have been intrigued by those black squirrels up north... will have to see one in person some day!)

    So happy to spend a little Irene time over here today - I've got her oh-so-delightful Poem Swap gifts featured on my blog today. I look forward to reading your September post celebrating the hoof-stomping release of WILDEBEEST! :0)

  5. We have black squirrel's in the Rockies, Abert's squirrels, with tufted ears. They're elusive, so it's always fun to spot one. Love Irene's limerick, she can do it all, can't she? And am looking forward to the book. Sadly, still haven't made it to the zoo with my grandchildren-maybe soon? Thanks for all this, Michelle, much to love!

    1. Isn't that interesting! I didn't know about the Abert's squirrels. In Queen's Park at the University of Toronto, they pretty much own the place. Completely fearless. It must be an academic squirrel thing-- in attitude, I remember the squirrels in Harvard Yard were like that as well.

  6. Irene is everywhere! and deservedly so. Exquisite torture...

  7. Irene is popping up all over the Poetry Friday corral today! Love the limerick, and the quotations from Irene really resonated with me.

  8. Poetry Friday is full of Irene love today! I love her little ditty. I need to get myself to a zoo. When does the contest end?

  9. I love Irene's point of view...we neve are truly done writing, are we?? And the book looks so fun. I sent her my zoo pic the day after we got back from vaca!

  10. Great zoo shots, Michelle -- love that lounging lemur! And the squirrel could be the antagonist in a story of his/her own, I think.
    Irene has a gift for being both wise and heartfelt that is truly special.

    1. The lemur is my favorite as well! Such a photogenic lot-- I think they liked the attention.

  11. Now I want to visit the zoo again, Michelle! Thanks for sharing all these poetry goodies with us - love Irene's poem, especially these lines:
    Sometimes a poem stirs mystery,
    sometimes it reveals history.

  12. What a fun limerick. I like that it is serious and thoughtful rather than the more typical jokey kind.

  13. What a fun post, Michelle, and I love Irene's limerick. Congrats, Irene, on the kudos your book is gathering. What wonderful affirmation of hard work.

    Violet N.

  14. Fun post. I enjoyed the limerick. Thanks.