[review + recipe + giveaway] Fresh Delicious: Poems from the Farmers’ Market by Irene Latham and Mique Moriuchi

Grab your shopping baskets and bags, let’s go to the Farmers’ Market!

In Fresh Delicious (Wordsong, 2016), Irene Latham and Mique Moriuchi invite us to join a group of adorable animal friends as they celebrate the wonders of farm fresh fruits and veggies. This mostly free verse smorgasbord of 21 poems is chock full of mouthwatering sensory details, clever imagery and playful metaphors to whet the appetite and tease the imagination.

While nibbling on these whimsical poems, curious munchkins will meet basil (“a bouquet of minty green butterfly wings”), delight in how ears of corn listen to the sun, and consider that okra is really “a mountain of mouse-sized swords/stored in fuzzy sheaths.” Afterwards, they’ll likely be anxious to see, smell, touch and taste the produce in person, making up little scenarios so they can write their own poems.

Does crookneck squash really look like a question mark? How is zucchini like an exclamation point? Will wild honey really make our tongues “buzz with pleasure”? Can’t wait for summer, when it’ll be time to propel those seeds out of our mouths “like shooting stars.”

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friday feast: lapping up dear wandering wildebeest by irene latham and anna wadham (+ a giveaway!)

If you’re feeling a little thirsty, you’ve come to the right place.

Dear Wandering Wildebeest: And Other Poems from the Water Hole (Millbrook Press, 2014)Irene Latham’s first poetry collection for children– is officially hitting shelves on Monday, September 1!

With fifteen beautifully crafted poems, Irene invites us to meet a fascinating variety of animals who frequent a water hole on the African grasslands.

Whether it’s those charming little meerkats standing guard in a nearby burrow, a tentative giraffe acrobatically positioning itself at water’s edge, a herd of playful zebras cavorting in a metaphorical “rugby tangle,” or a solitary rhino venturing out for his moonlight drink, we can easily see what a busy, life-sustaining place this is from dawn to dusk.

Written in free verse and rhyme, Irene’s spare, evocative poems are by turns lyrical, whimsical, informative, amusing, enlightening, reflective and reverent. She did a brilliant job of zeroing in on precisely those aspects of animal personality and behavior that best lend themselves to poetic interpretation. Each verse is paired with a nonfiction note offering further details about how the animals thrive and function in the ecosystem, illuminating interdependence, survival and diversity.

Anna Wadham’s gorgeous illustrations convey the many moods of the savanna, sometimes rust orange and warm, sometimes jade green and refreshing, other times dreamy cerulean and soothing. Her emotive renderings nicely complement the verses, indeed welcoming the reader to “this vital place/where earth and sky convene,” inspiring us to wander, meander, and freely appreciate this unique poetic celebration of wildlife and habitat.

I especially enjoyed hearing from the new-to-me oxpeckers, whose comical poem I’m sharing today, along with the ethereal “Impala Explosion,” a stunning example of how terse rhythm and neat rhyme can perfectly capture the animals’ spirit and movement.

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friday feast: cracking open a few more nuts

You know what they say. It takes one to know one. And I know you’re nuts nuts nuts!

Nuts about peanut butter, that is. You look hungry. Please help yourself to one of these beautiful Buckeyes, courtesy of Smitten Kitchen.

(click for SK Buckeyes recipe)

That’s it, wrap your lips around that perfect little ball of cream cheese, butter, smoother than smooth peanut butter, graham cracker crumbs and deep, dark chocolate. *swoons*

Now, where was I?

Feel free to slather yourself all over with reckless abandon.

Oh, yes, back to the party! We’ve got four more Peanut Butter Poets on today’s menu: Douglas Florian, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Irene Latham and Charles Waters.  Nothing finer than having grown men go gaga for goobers with such purty poems of praise! And leave it to the ladies to serve up a giggle and a growl! Never know what you’ll get when you crack these nuts wide open.

Spread it again, Sam!

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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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