Poetry Friday–A Villanelle:HUMANITY


September Morning Glories, watercolor and watercolor pencil, © 2017 Michelle Kogan

I have been lost in the sea of events unfolding in the U.S.A. and around the world. The times seem ever so precarious. I’ve taken to my pen to try to understand and share my thoughts. For Poetry Friday I’m sharing a villanelle that I wrote after recently attending a workshop on them at the Poetry Foundation. The instructor there is excellent, Maggie Queeney, she focused on our creating a villanelle that comes from a personal loss. I decided to take this a bit further and look at a loss that has happened in our country. I am at heart an optimist, so as I was creating closure for this poem I wanted to have it end on a more positive note, which is not always the case in life or in these poems. The accompanying WIP art is a breath of humanity–which includes benevolence, and what better to include than a symbol of my love for beauty and nature.



Let me hold you tightly in my arms,
breathe as one as if the air has cleared,
we’ll wrap away days troubles and storms.

Remember there are truths beneath the lies,
meanings of all colors emerge, though marred–
Let me hold you tightly in my arms.

Listen to the demoralizing cries,
listen between lines for what’s disappeared,
we’ll wrap away days troubles and storms.

Humanity has donned an ugly disguise,
soul-searching–has this quality become feared?
Please, let me hold you tightly in my arms.

Heavens open wide with wise reprise,
guide even those who have racketeered,
we’ll wrap away days troubles and storms.

See through a child’s future eyes,
and seek a day when all nations are revered.
Let me hold you tightly in my arms,
and we’ll wrap away day’s troubles and storms.

© 2017 Michelle Kogan

Here’s a link for the structure of a villanelle at Academy of American Poets

And here’s a villanelle by Elizabeth Bishop. You can read the rest at the Poetry Foundation.


By Elizabeth Bishop
The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.
Matt Forrest Esenwine is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup this week at, Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme. Thanks Matt! He also has a new enchanting book that’s just about out called, Flashlight Night. Be sure to stop by his blog for more info on his book and lots more poems!



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 School of the Art Institute of Chicago and 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: http://www.MichelleKoganFineArt.etsy.com and her website: http://www.michellekogan.com
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23 Responses to Poetry Friday–A Villanelle:HUMANITY

  1. Wow! What an ambitious post. I’m impressed. A villanelle is daunting to me….and look…you have a whole beautiful poem. I love the lines about truth beneath the lies and colors emerging. The workshop sounds super good. I love a good poetry workshop every once in a while. Such a pretty watercolor. I love the hint of coming autumn in the purple.

  2. This is beautiful. It spoke to me and the repeated lines of ‘hold you tightly in my arms’ was so visual and so comforting. I keep thinking of the contrast, of this harsh world and at the same time this voice saying let me comfort you—one that is also part of this harsh world too. Beautiful poem and artwork too. thanks for sharing this. 🙂

  3. Villanelles aren’t easy, and this one has such a calming feel…nicely done.

  4. Beautiful poem that speaks to my heart right now as well. It does seem that we are under an onslaught of storms–both physical and political. Like you, I try to hang onto hope that we will come out stronger once the storms have passed.

  5. lindabaie says:

    You’ve shown us this recent alarming news well, Michelle, and I hope that this is the ending of this frightening weather. To “wrap away days troubles and storms” is something to hold tight as our goal. I always love your art, too, a sunshine ray for us this day!

  6. Lovely, Michelle. I like how some lines in your poem seem to be illustrated in the painting, especially the repeating lines: “we’ll wrap away days troubles and storms.” reflected by the twining leaves and stems in your painting. Thank you for a beautiful and inspiring duo!

  7. Beautiful words to match your beautiful illustrations – a reminder of nature’s quiet beauty, which has weathered centuries of humanity’s heartaches and woes.

  8. So many troubles and storms (literal and figurative) these days, Michelle. Thanks for always adding a little beauty — your words and gorgeous-as-ever artwork — to our challenging lives.

  9. maryleehahn says:

    Thank you for the optimism and benevolence. You have brought peace and beauty to my day!

  10. katswhiskers says:

    Such kindness in this, Michelle. Beautiful.

  11. mbhmaine says:

    Your painting and poem are beautiful and while lamenting difficult times, remain so infused with a gentle caring and hope. Thank you.

  12. Your painting brings such beauty to your post, which tackles the way the world is headed in such a loving way. I hope for healing. So much anger.

  13. cvarsalona says:

    This may be late in coming, Michelle, but I send you hearty wishes for continued optimism in the days to come. Your illustration is lovely as it wraps around the words of your poem.

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