Welcome poets, to Day 1 of our month-long #WaterPoemProject. If you’re new to this project, please read the Introduction and FAQ.

I couldn’t think of a better person to kick things off than children’s poet (and my dear friend) Irene Latham.

Irene’s poetry prompt is: The Language of Water

Irene Latham

“How does water speak? What does a lake, river, waterfall, etc. say? Use onomatopoeia (words with water sounds, like splash, sprinkle, drizzle, spray…) and/or dialogue to imagine a conversation with water.”

Get your pencils sharpened and your typing fingers warmed up. Your task is to draft a piece of writing about the language of water before the end of the day tomorrow, Monday, March 23, 2020.

If you’re doing the #WaterPoemProject with a group, be sure to share or post your rough draft, read other people’s poems, and cheer for their efforts.


Irene Latham’s latest book is Dictionary for a Better World: Poems, Quotes and Anecdotes from A to Z, with Charles Waters, illus. by Mehrdokht Amini, published by Lerner. You can find out more about Irene’s books her website.


#WaterPoemProject Series Posts:

Project Introduction
Prompt 1: Irene Latham, The Language of Water
Prompt 2: Elizabeth Steinglass, What Would a Raindrop Say?
Prompt 3: Linda Mitchell, Found Haiku
Prompt 4: Shari Green, Fogbow Fibonacci
Prompt 5: Margaret Simon, The Taste of Water
Prompt 6: Heather Meloche, The Shape of a Wave
Prompt 7: Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, A Water Memory
Prompt 8: Laura Shovan, Rainy Day Opposites
Prompt 9: Kathryn Apel, Silly Solage
Prompt 10: Buffy Silverman, A Watery Home
Prompt 11: Kara Laughlin, Frozen Fog
Prompt 12: Debbie Levy, Jump into a Limerick
Prompt 13: Joy McCullough, What Are Water Bears?

Please support the #WaterPoemProject authors by buying their books from your favorite independent bookstore.

17 responses to “#WaterPoemProject: Day 1, Irene Latham”

  1. Water speaks
    of love, these
    currents as
    calm, for here
    only in this
    single moment
    do we forget
    the hard ice of
    mountains, melting
    off in distance, and
    the vast ocean
    of unpredictable riptides
    the river flows
    into, these bookends
    of the forever cycle,

    — Kevin, gathering poems here:

    • Laura Shovan says:

      I love the phrase “here only in this single moment do we forget the hard ice of mountains.” Beautiful.

    • I love your use of bookends and how easily we forget where the water comes from and where it is going.

    • only in this/single moment/do we forget/the hard ice of/mountains-your words took me to a place of silence, Kevin. The sharp ice that surrounds us can be softened by the flow of gentle waters.-Beautiful poem.
      Thank you, Irene and Laura for Day 1’s journey.
      I am thinking of how to approach it.

  2. Linda Mitchell says:

    Bath Tub Monsoon

    I battle drips
    I bat at drops
    stare down trickles
    ’til they plop!
    Water-logged whiskers–
    tail and paws too.
    Iv’e been caught
    playing bath tub monsoon

    (c) Linda Mitchell — with help from her cat, Ira
    I will post with the # too to boost visability

  3. mia says:

    “letter to the deniers”

    those who speak without
    first learning to listen
    will never utter a substantial word

    like a crystal chandelier
    swaying slowly in a chilly draft;
    perhaps hissing like a sizzling pan,
    although frosty cold
    rather than red-hot

    don’t underestimate the oceans.
    hear their ear-shattering roars,
    practice humility
    as you recognize that they were here first;
    and they will remain, the question is only
    will you sacrifice your insufferable complex of superiority?

    you could never match the volume of the waves,
    no matter how insistently loud you yell

    you, who speaks and shouts without
    first learning to listen
    to the crashing of the sea
    will never best the world you are so determined to destroy.

  4. Bayou Side

    Fat hungry bumblebee

    Wave-jumping motor boat

    Water-whispering canoe

    Spring-loving cypress trees

  5. My poem is at my blog post today as an image poem: but I am including the poem below.

    You trickle. I listen.
    The distant rumble of the news flows like water.
    You ooze with stillness. I come to your resting spot,
    mirroring an image under the shining sun.
    You sway with ripples of peace-a cool breeze passes.
    A world beyond your waters knows discontent,
    shrieking with incessant safety precautions,
    “Wash your hands”. But you lay quiet
    in the same world, sharing your space with those
    burdened who seek restful waterside peace.
    Come swish your fears away in my waters. – © CVarsalona, 2020, Long Island, NY.

  6. Laura Shovan says:

    I’m working through the prompts in the voice of a character I am working on, who survived a flood.

    The Language of Water

    I say hot.
    Water says cool.
    I say thirsty.
    Water says wet.
    I say sing to me.
    Water gurgles and babbles. It drips and it drums.
    I say I made you a paper boat.
    Water floats it downstream, out of sight.
    I say stay, as if water were a dog.
    Water will not. It growls. It chases its tail.
    I say don’t come any closer.
    Water puffs out its chest, breaks its banks.
    I say get back.
    Water says when its good and ready.
    But first, it is hungry.
    It must eat
    everything it sees.
    I say why.
    Water doesn’t know.
    It sits in its streambed
    taking in the mud, the broken trees
    and doesn’t remember
    what made it so angry.

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Laura Shovan

Laura Shovan is the author of the award-winning middle grade novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. Her second book, Takedown, is a Junior Library Guild and PJ Our Way selection. Look for A Place at the Table, co-written with Saadia Faruqi, in 2020. Laura is a poet-in-the-schools Maryland.

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