Thursday, September 24, 2020

This Poem is a Nest: Review

And then it was the last Friday of

When Boyds Mills Press asked if I'd like to review This Poem is a Nest by Irene Latham (2020) I answered with a quick

Yes, please!

Latham, Irene, and Johanna Wright. This Poem Is a Nest. Wordsong, an Imprint of Boyds Mills & Kane, 2020.

Truth is, I'm inclined to love this book. I've liked all of the books that Irene has written. I enjoy her blogs, Live Your Poem, and Artspeak. I find her writing sensitive and sincere and extraordinarily creative.  

I wasn't quite prepared for how much This Poem is a Nest startled me a bit as a reader and a writer (Spoiler--this is a positive review).

This Poem is a Nest begins with a four-part prose poem about a nest in each season. The following pages hold nestlings or small found poems from the original prose poem. 

I know, right?  What a concept! So creative. Thankfully, Latham understands that readers are bound to ask, How did you write this? and includes thoughtful Tips From a Nest-Builder: How to Find Nestlings (101-103) as well as a sweet invitation to write (101-103).

This Poem is a Nest is filled with all kinds of fantastic words that are soft, spongy, or connective or glittery or weather resistant....very much like bits of stuff birds build with. Here's a small sampling:


The nestlings from these words and more knocked my socks off. Each is not only a surprising visual image but a moment captured in a way that delights. Nestlings are magical.

These nestlings provoked too--which surprised me. Why? I wondered, is she using this word again here...and here. She already used that word. 

But, I was only beginning to discover Latham's gemstone path. After reading several sections of the collection I grew more anchored in the various shades and layers of meaning her words hold. I'm in awe of the crafting Latham and her editor must have enjoyed together. This Poem is a Nest is for language-lovers, word-lovers, and thinkers too.
I also wondered ...why are titles of many poems longer than the poems themselves? After holding several nestlings in my gaze, however, I see that Latham delivers experiences in a different, new, and surprising way...which is a feat in the world of poetry. Aren't all poets cutting edge creative? Latham surely stands out with This Poem is a Nest.

I look forward to sharing this collection with my middle school students.  Young people often describe life in ways that charm me in the way that these nestlings do. There is delightful wordplay at work in This Poem is a Nest. I know my students will love reading these short poems together. 

This Poem is a Nest is a collection for children of any age and the adults that share a world with them. 

Do not miss the delight of this nest.

In Latham's words, I wish you a cup of stars this week,  (Hope 56)...and the boat and sky and the ladder and mouse squeaks. I hope you find all the nestlings and bring them to your reader's heart. 

PS: Because this author is our Poetry Friday friend, Irene, I'm sharing one of the sweetest pages of the book. 

Isn't this page quintessentially our kind poetry friend? Well done Irene. This is a beautiful book and you should be proud. I predict awards!

Please visit Jone's NEW website for the rest of Poetry Friday! Thanks for hosting, Jone!


  1. Dear Linda - thank you for this review of NEST. I am smiling and smiling reading the parts that impacted you... thank you! The X & Z poem came at the very end, when I realized they were the only 2 letters without poem titles! I couldn't possibly leave them out! :) And the fun I had with that (and freedom my editor Rebecca Davis gave me) is exactly what makes this book so special to me. Among so many other things poetry IS fun & freedom! So grateful to you for these words and for your time. xo

  2. A wonderful review, Linda! The layering upon layering, deconstructing and constructing again, is ingenious indeed. Like you said, cutting edge creative. I'm looking forward to reading more.

  3. This looks like a truly extraordinary book.

  4. Linda, this is an outstanding review that weaves in information about Irene's amazing talent. I especially liked the way you noted Irene's delicate layering of words and creativity. You set the bar high for reviewing Irene's book.

  5. You know I love this, too, Linda, & your review brings out the fabulous parts of it once again. I am so sorry that I'm no longer teaching. As you wrote, students will love writing to this idea! Wonderful review!

  6. Gorgeous review for a gorgeous book, Linda. Thank you for your in depth and insightful reflections. I want to get my hands on this book even more! :)

  7. This sounds so amazing. Can't wait to see it.

  8. Irene is such a wonder! I LOVE the concept of this book, and can't wait to read it. Thanks for the lovely review!

  9. New, different, surprising. This book is a gem!

  10. Given that I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of this book on my far away doorstep, I must thank you Linda for your expansive and glowing review. It has served to heighten my anticipation.

  11. What an intriguing concept! Irene is amazing, and I look forward to enjoying this book. Great review, Linda.

  12. Your post is a "cup of stars" indeed, and a gemstone path in itself. Thank you for this glittering journey through the book and its nest of treasures.

  13. What a huge undertaking this must have been. I cannot wait to pick up a copy.

  14. Linda, thanks so much for this wonderful review and the tastes of this book. Sound amazing. Our library doesn't have it on order yet, so I'm going to ask them to get it!

  15. I am so looking forward to getting my hands on this book. Irene is a wonder and you are, too! What a thoughtful, enticing review!

  16. Wow, wow, wow. I love seeing how you experienced this extraordinary book, and I can't wait to delve deep into this nest!

  17. I am so eager to dive into this book--thank you for sharing it! My first thought on why titles are longer than poems was to remember so many of my 15 Words or Less poems. When the word count (or word pool) for your actual poem is small, you might have to explain quite a bit more with your title. Can't wait to read brilliant Irene's new offering. It looks stunning!

  18. I cannot wait for my copy. I am interviewing the illustrator, a Portland artist.

  19. PS...if you have a question for the illustrator, let me know.

  20. I agree with your great review, Linda! Irene's book "is for language-lovers, word-lovers, and thinkers too." There is so much to love about This Poem is a Nest!

  21. Hi, Linda. After reading through Irene's book for the blog tour, I know this is a collection of poems I'll read again and again. Your post highlighted different poems than the ones I chose, and you make me want to go back and revisit them, especially that adorable mouse squeak!


Friendly, positive comments and feedback are always welcome here. Please let me know I'm not just whistling in the dark!