American Writers Museum & Sonnet for Poetry Friday


2--Langston-Hughes-Photo-and-about-6-2017  3--quote-Langston-Hughes-cropped-6-2017

4--Margaret-Wise-Brown-Amer-Writers-Museum-6-2017   6--quote-2-Margaret-Wise-Brown-6-2017



About two weeks ago I visited Chicago’s NEW American Writers Museum, with a couple of my Picture Book Illustration Students. They are featured by Paul O. Zelinsky’s tree mural, that’s in the Children’s gallery. In another gallery called American Voices, you’ll find images of all different writer’s and poets with turning kiosks below them having their bio and bits of their  writing. I have two of them featured here, Langston Hughes and Margaret Wise Brown. There’s also a changing exhibit gallery that had Palm: All Awake in the Darkness, An immersive installation inspired by the life and poetry of W.S. Merlin. It was filled with tropical plants, poetry books and an interactive poem. The last two images are from galleries towards the end of the museum. Wonderful museum and one I definitely will revisit.

I’ve written a sonnet to share that reflects on our coming 4th of July holiday and the current times. My poem serendipitously fits well with Langston Hughes’ poem above, Let America Be America Again. 


America show me your colors true
Let me cradle again my care for all,
Relinquish my disdain red, white and blue
In this toiled land of brave and free that bawl.

Cease your fears, your isolation theories,
Liberty–justice this Fourth of July,
Open your heart relieve all your wearies
One rainbow country under one small sky.

But, we have one world to share and repair,
One multi-colored freedom, not false-truths squad
Begin Americans at home–be fair
Sing indivisible truths here and abroad.

Raise high that child that cries and hungers life,
World’s future calls, set aside your petty strife!

© 2017 Michelle Kogan


Diane Mayr is hosting the Poetry Roundup, at Random Noodling, thanks Diane!
Wishing all a celebratory and Happy 4th!

About Michelle Kogan Art, Illustration, & Writing

Michelle Kogan is an artist, illustrator, instructor, and writer, creating colorful allegorical figure, flora and fauna paintings and children's illustrations, which have a sensitivity to endangered species, and the environment. She is an art instructor at the Evanston Art Center and offers Plein Air Painting Workshops at nature venues in the Chicago area including the Lincoln Park Conservatory, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, and Lurie Gardens at Millennium Park. Visit her online Etsy Shop at: and her website:
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34 Responses to American Writers Museum & Sonnet for Poetry Friday

  1. Looks like a wonderful place. Two writers I admire greatly. I like your inspirational call. I wish we could set aside the hate and fear.

  2. Well said! Your poem calls us all to rise up and join together. So many great people have paved the way to liberty for all. Thanks for sharing!

  3. dmayr says:

    “Raise high that child that cries and hungers life” If only we kept the child in the forefront, we would be better people, and we’d all be better off. Thanks for the poem and the introduction to the Writers Museum–one more reason to plan a trip to Chicago!

  4. Who knew about this museum?! Another reason to visit Chicago. Oh, and for “Chicago Mix” popcorn, of course!

  5. lindabaie says:

    A museum new to me among so many wonderful ones in Chicago. I’d love to visit! Your poem does make a parallel with Hughes, and that’s sad because of the time difference. Love “One rainbow country under one small sky.” Struggles continue! Thanks, Michelle!

  6. macrush53 says:

    I am making a list of must see museums with Presidential Libraries to visit when I retire. This is now on the list. And your sonnet speaks to me. It should so be about the world we are creating for children.

  7. That’s it…..I’m going to Chicago! I’ve never been but this museum looks like it’s not only interesting but full of prompts! Wonderful job on the poem that came out of your visit. Happy Fourth of July to you too! I hope you enjoy a day of feasting and fete-ing.

  8. What an incredible space – how inspiring to be surrounded by so much history! Yet another reason to put Chicago on my must-visit list! 🙂

  9. I did not know about this museum–will have to check it out on our next trip to Chicago!

  10. margaretsmn says:

    We were visiting Chicago yearly when my daughter was in school there. Sure wish we had seen this museum. I love the inspiration you have taken away. Yes, we should set aside our strife, but I’m afraid that will not happen for a while. One can hope!

  11. The museum looks wonderful. I wonder if I can justify a trip to Chicago just to visit! It’s just a six hour drive. That Langston Hughes poem certainly speaks to today as well as to his own time, as does your poem. I hope we are able to overcome the current strive.

  12. jama says:

    Thanks for the peek at the new museum, and for your rousing poem. Things look pretty dismal in our country right now, but we must not lose hope. Happy Independence Day weekend to you!

  13. What a neat place, Michelle. I had no idea Margaret Wise Brown died at only 42 years! She certainly accomplished a lot during those years.

    I love the hopeful note on which you end your powerful poem (in the last 2 lines). Well expressed.

  14. katswhiskers says:

    You make beautiful use of the sonnet form, Michelle – and those last two lines are perfection. Also, I spy a koala in the reading tree… :P)

  15. This museum looks awesome! Sigh on your sonnet. Love the thoughts it shares, especially this phrase: One rainbow country under one small sky. Beautiful!

  16. maryleehahn says:

    We are headed for Chicago in a couple of weeks and this is now on the to-do-and-see list! Thanks! Love your sonnet, especially that last couplet. Yes.

  17. cvarsalona says:

    What a wonderful museum to visit, Michelle. Your sonnet and Hughes’s quote are just what I needed to read for the 4th of July. You shared a truth with all of us, “But, we have one world to share and repair…”
    BTW, your Summer Poetry swap poem that you created for Brenda is a wonderful mix of language and art. May I capture that for the summer gallery?

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