a heart-touching visit with irene latham

#8 in the Poetry Potluck Series, celebrating National Poetry Month 2011.


Irene with her debut middle grade novel, Leaving Gee’s Bend.

When poet and author Irene Latham was at a booksigning for her debut novel Leaving Gee’s Bend last year, she spied a postcard book containing pieces from the National Museum of Women in the Arts. She decided to use some of the paintings as prompts for the poem-a-day-challenge she usually does every April. Twelve of those poems are included in her second book of poetry, The Color of Lost Rooms (Blue Rooster Press, 2010), which explores the themes of love and loss within the context of history, nature and art. 

I find ekphrastic poems fascinating, a kind of triple treat. There’s the work of art itself (something we might encounter for the first time or be invited to ponder anew), the poet’s response to the art, and then the pleasure of comparing our own reactions with the poet’s. Irene says she really responds to visual art on an emotional level, and that the paintings she eventually wrote about chose her. I know just what she means. It’s wonderful wholly entering the world of a painting that speaks to you. 

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