This Poem is a Nest

This book is the best!

My oh my–what a treat to get an early peek at Irene Latham’s new book, This Poem is a Nest! Are you a fan of found poems? Of nature poems? Of clever puzzles? Of delicious language? Of Irene Latham’s poetry? I can answer yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. But even if you have fewer yeses than me, you will enjoy this delightful book.

The book opens with “Nest,” a poem celebrating a robin’s nest during all four seasons. Then Irene uses her “Nest” poem as the spark for 161 little “nestlings.” Each nestling poem is woven from words of the original “Nest,” and all of the source poem’s words find their way into at least one nestling. As I read the nestlings I found myself returning to the opening poem, searching for the source of their words. These small poems reveal the richness of the language of the original, giving a reader new appreciation as they read and reread. The nestling poems cover a wide variety of topics (much greater than you might imagine possible from a single seasonal poem!) and invite the reader to invent new poems of their own.

The best way to get a feel for the wonderful language and images in this book is to read some poems. Here’s the opening stanza of the spring section of “Nest.”

Spring

This poem has twigs in it, and little bits of feather-fluff.
It’s got wings and birdsong stitched together with ribbons of hope.
Safe in its crook, it’s a cradle that sways across day and dark.

Each season overflows with new sights and sounds. Seagrass sky and glittery web of summer turn to crispcool autumn and finally frost-kissed winter.

Then the Nestlings commence, with playful poems that mark the time of day:

Bedtime

you drop
down
in moonsong—
ask sky:
got dreams?

Calendar poems celebrate each month:

October

sky shipwrecked,
oak like
a wild dream

Other sections include poems about colors, animals, people, wordplay, and places on all seven continents and beyond. Here’s a favorite animal poem:

Portrait of Papa Emperor Penguin
with Egg

feet stitched
together,
both anchor
    and dream

Whimsical illustrations by Johanna Wright accompany some of the poems:

The final section of nestling poems offers advice for the young (and old!) poet. This one made me smile:

First Poem-Draft 

ink squeaks 
with hope

The book ends with tips for finding your own poems. I could imagine a classroom or zoom-room of young writers, searching through “Nest” and creating their own nestlings. So many wonderful words and paths to choose! I could not resist playing:

Seasons of Hope

Hope
   sways a 
      lullaby

snug gemstones
   become
      fluttery stars

a home 
   turns to
      frostkissed why

hope in its harbor
   me--you
      inside
          --Buffy Silverman, with words from This Poem is a Nest

I hope I’ve enticed you to check out This Poem is a Nest when it releases at the end of the month. And while you’re waiting, head over to Whispers from the Ridge where Kiesha hosts this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup, and offers two exquisite poems by Paul Laurence Dunbar.

18 thoughts on “This Poem is a Nest

  1. Thanks to you and Linda, I can’t wait to read Irene’s book. With such exquisite words from Nest, who can go wrong in drafting their own poem? Yours is beautiful.

  2. Oh Buffy, thank you for this peek. We saw some of this at Highlights last fall and I couldn’t wait. My copy has been on pre-order for a long time!! Congratulations, Irene. Truly brilliant and gorgeous work. I will savor and try this idea as Buffy did in her poem. You have created such a lovely form idea here. I can see this growing more and more thanks to the creative poets who are writing these days. I wish I had had the wealth of books in my classroom I now have in my personal collection. Someone is going to be the beneficiary of incredible books some day (my grandkids will have first dibs and often I get two copies of ones I just can’t part with) since I simply can’t resist. I can’t wait for Nest to arrive! Congratulations on an incredible work, Irene. So very happy for all of the amazing success and work you are doing and have been doing for so long. Janet Clare F.

  3. Dear Buffy – THANK YOU! I am in love with your poem, esp. the “frostkissed why” Beautiful! So grateful for you sharing about this book, which means so much to me. Mwah!

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