Friday, May 03, 2024

Cover Reveal: THE MISTAKES THAT MADE US by Irene Latham and Charles Waters

Photo credit Eric Latham
I'm happy to share my blog space with good friends and amazing poets, Irene Latham and Charles Waters. They have stopped by for a cover reveal and to give us a sneak peek at their upcoming anthology, The Mistakes That Made Us: Confessions from Twenty Poets, illustrated by Mercè López and published by Carolrhoda Books, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group. It's due out on October 1, 2024!

Here's a Q & A with Irene and Charles:

What was your inspiration for this project?
Our first book together was a book of poems titled Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship (2018), which, like this book, was edited by the fabulous Carol Hinz, Associate Publisher at Lerner Publishing Group. 

With Carol’s support and encouragement, we’ve continued to explore our first book’s subject matter in other projects (such as Be A Bridge), and this time we decided to dive into the “mistakes” part of that subtitle. 

Can I Touch Your Hair? is part fiction and part autobiographical, and we thought it would be interesting and impactful to ask poets to go 100% autobiographical and share their real-life mistakes—rather than a more traditional (fictional) treatment of this topic. We also asked poets to share a prose passage about how the mistake in the poem impacted their lives, which gives the reader the experience of seeing how mistakes can ripple across a lifetime, shaping us in unexpected ways. 

Why an anthology instead of a collection written by you? 
We love anthologies, find them a vital tool in literacy, and want to share them with as many humans as possible! With an anthology, the reader experiences multiple voices writing on a theme, which can offer a more comprehensive look at a topic, and also yield surprises. Additionally, the wide variety of poetic styles in an anthology can provide more doorways for kids to connect with the words and the message of the book. With the passing of Lee Bennett Hopkins and Paul B. Janeczko there is a gaping hole in the anthologies market, and we’re excited to join others (like you, Sylvia!) in the children’s poetry community in helping to keep this extraordinary genre alive for many years to come. 

Can you share some behind-the-scenes information about working on this book
We’d be glad to! 

1. The book was originally titled OOPS: Poems About Mistakes. But that title turned out to be too flip for the wide variety of mistakes represented in the collection, which range from things like Allan Wolf’s poem about scoring a point for the wrong team to Margarita Engle’s poem about caving to peer pressure and cutting off her beloved braids. The poems we received humbled us to our core because of how deeply personal they are. These poems are heartfelt, tender, surprising, and sometimes deeply funny. We are so grateful to these contributors for their bravery in sharing their stories. 

2. We came up with the structure of the book first – it’s divided into four sections (Oopsie-Daisy; Stuff Happens; Blessings in Disguise; What Have I Done?). Then we built the collection poem by poem, poet by poet, as we worked to fill those categories. 

3. This book would not have been possible without the illustrations by Mercè López. Her work has dazzled us with its sensitivity, specificity and creativity. We asked the poets to send us childhood photos of themselves, we sent those to Carol, who sent them Mercè. One illustration, of many, you’ll see in the book that really captures a poet and their family is the spread for JaNay Brown-Wood’s poem “Birthday Breaths.” 

Poets in this anthology includes: 
Jaime Adoff
Jorge Argueta
Lacresha Berry
JaNay Brown-Wood
David Elliott
Margarita Engle
Matt Forrest Esenwine
Douglas Florian
Irene Latham
George Ella Lyon
Vikram Madan
Naomi Shihab Nye
Linda Sue Park
Kim Rogers
Darren Sardelli
Charles Waters
April Halprin Wayland
Allan Wolf
Tabatha Yeatts
Jane Yolen 

We hope you enjoy this anthology, and not only enjoy it, but share it with others! We hope it inspires everyone to have conversations and/or write about their own mistakes.

Me: Thank you, Irene and Charles, for sharing the cover of your new book and these insights into the background for this new anthology. I love the premise and can't wait to see this book and share it too! Now head on over to Buffy's blog for the Poetry Friday gathering!