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.