Poetry Friday-Golden Shovel/Speak Out


I’m taken by the high school students continued activism, walk-outs, and marching that are happening here in the U.S. My poems for Poetry Friday this week come from these thoughts. This first poem is from the prompt that Michelle Heidenrich Barnes shared with us on her blog, Today’s Little Ditty. The prompt comes from Nikki Grimes, and she challenged us to write a golden shovel poem from the poems that Michelle shared that day.  The poem that spoke to me, and that I chose a line from is “blurred lines.” It was originally written in a workshop that Michelle lead for boys 11-19 who were in a “juvenile residential facility.”   “blurred lines was written by the student who’s pen name is Lil Fijjii, and I decided to follow the grammatical style of this poet. I’m also sharing a few additional politically inspired poems.

stroke another’s back
from “blurred lines” by Lil Fijjii

i wanna get you thinkin’, i
wanna get you outside of yourself. i’ve been
inside out and upside down, looking through
all different windows drenched in storms
of other’s pains cryin’ for rains
of joy. i’m fed up with this status quo hell
of inequality, it’s gotta go–i ain’t just watchin’, and
doin’ nothin’, how ‘bout you, wheels gotta move forward, not turn time back!

©2018 Michelle Kogan


By Walt Whitman

Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugles! blow! 
Through the windows—through doors—burst like a ruthless force,
Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation,
Into the school where the scholar is studying,
Leave not the bridegroom quiet—no happiness must he have now with his bride,
Nor the peaceful farmer any peace, ploughing his field or gathering his grain,
So fierce you whirr and pound you drums—so shrill you bugles blow.
Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugles! blow!
Over the traffic of cities—over the rumble of wheels in the streets;
Are beds prepared for sleepers at night in the houses? no sleepers must sleep in those beds,
No bargainers’ bargains by day—no brokers or speculators—would they continue?
Would the talkers be talking? would the singer attempt to sing?
Would the lawyer rise in the court to state his case before the judge?
Then rattle quicker, heavier drums—you bugles wilder blow.

Read the rest of the poem at the Poetry Foundation

By Denise Levertov  
A voice from the dark called out,
             ‘The poets must give us
imagination of peace, to oust the intense, familiar
imagination of disaster. Peace, not only
the absence of war.’
                                   But peace, like a poem,
is not there ahead of itself,
can’t be imagined before it is made,
can’t be known except
in the words of its making,
grammar of justice,
syntax of mutual aid.
                                       A feeling towards it,
dimly sensing a rhythm, is all we have
until we begin to utter its metaphors,
learning them as we speak.

Read the rest of the poem at the Poetry Foundation.

Thanks Linda Baie for hosting this weeks Poetry Friday Round up on your blog Teacher Dance!

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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14 Responses to Poetry Friday-Golden Shovel/Speak Out

  1. I, too, am taken by the activism and enthusiasm, Michelle. Both my children participated in walk-outs at their schools, and I’m thrilled that my Dylan, who’s turning 18 this year, is so excited to vote in the mid-term elections! Thank you for sharing all three of these poems today, but thanks especially for your golden shovel. I love how you’ve embodied Lil Fijjii’s poem and taken it one step further.

  2. lindabaie says:

    I am hopeful that those drums and bugles keep blaring out week by week by week, Michelle. Lil Fijiii’s poem spoke to many of us, didn’t it? Your poem is a cheer and an exhortation to act, wishing everyone would ‘hear’ some kind of push! Love “wheels gotta move forward, not turn time back!” It seems that many are trying to go back. I’m reading Lilac Girls now, the beginnings of Hitler’s rise, and some of the reasoning is too close to what I’m hearing today. Thanks for all your thought-filled shared poems!

  3. jama says:

    Yes, the student activism is heartening and gives me such hope for the future. Love your poem, Michelle — the voice is so strong and I love how rousing the rhythm is.

  4. Tabatha says:

    Nicely done, Michelle! I’m with you, hoping those wheels move forward!

  5. cvarsalona says:

    Activism rings through as a strong call to action in all the poems you shared. But your golden shovel sings of the rawness of a young voice crying out for change. Thanks, Michelle for the rally call.

  6. Kay Mcgriff says:

    Yes! May the drums and bugles beat and blare until justice rolls down. I love your golden shovel poem that also cries out for justice. And that last poem you shared blew me way. May we learn the “grammar of justice” as we “begin to utter its metaphors.”

  7. maryleehahn says:

    Great collection for PEACE!

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