Poetry Friday–Golden Shovel, Books, Children


My thoughts were and are still with the students and teachers of the Santa Fe, Tx, High School shooting from last week. I let poetry and painting feed the outrage in my heart. I had just received this beautiful book, Libba, The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten, by Laura Veirs, and illustrated by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh from Jama Rattigan as a book giveaway. Thanks Jama for this soft spoken, yet powerfully rich book! Jama reviewed this book on her blog this past March. I knew I wanted to build a poem, a golden shovel from Elizabeth Cotten’s well known, and historic song Freight Train.



When will the heavy freight 
for children lift and become light, like an HO gauge train?
When will the heavy freight
of guns forever disappear–And travel down a one-way train
track that will route and run
those guns, every single one, so
very far away and fast!

2018 Michelle Kogan


Between the Lines Cover

I also want to send a thank you out to Michelle Heidenrich Barnes for receiving another book giveaway, Between the Lines by Nikki Grimes. Michelle recently interviewed Nikki Grimes, and included this book on her blog Today’s Little DittyI’m about half way through this young adult book–which is written in prose and verse–and loving the many unique voices of the high school students, and their poems that they write for “Open Mike Fridays” and a poetry slam.

I find refuge in these books, but I feel lots of work is at hand, and will continue to use my voice, march, and carry a sign among other actions to help with this horrific period of gun violence we are experiencing here in the USA. I also joined an organization last week in a desire to help, Mom’s Demand Action, for Gun Sense in America.

Drop in on Margaret Gibson Simon’s blog, Reflections on the Teche, she’s hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup, and featuring a poetry-photo exchange called, “More than Meets the Eye,” thanks Margaret!

Wishes for a happy and safe Memorial weekend to all celebrating!

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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40 Responses to Poetry Friday–Golden Shovel, Books, Children

  1. margaretsmn says:

    I love the way a golden shovel poem combines two voices into one poem. Your voice with Elizabeth Cotten sings for those children, innocent children. I look for the day when ‘every single gun’ is gone.

  2. Well, look what you’ve done, Michelle—you’ve taken your book bounty and used it to motivate, activate, and inspire! It’s wonderful to see all the different ways you express your passions and interests. Thank you for the TLD shout out, too. 🙂

  3. lindabaie says:

    I loved Between The Lines, that underlying resolve of those young adults that gave me hope for tomorrow, Michelle. My daughter works with a teen group at her museum and she is hopeful too for all of us that they will bring the country to a saner world. Your poem is lovely, that ‘one-way train track’ exactly right. FYI, this is the third post that shares poetry about trains! Love it!

  4. cvarsalona says:

    Michelle, this is the second time tonight that my comment did not go through so I will start again. I think that your poem is a strong plea and a call to action: “When will the heavy freight
    of guns forever disappear.” Your artwork is beautiful as always.

  5. Linda Mitchell says:

    Michelle, I know. I send you a hug through cyber space. The shooting in Santa Fe just stops me. I don’t want to move on until we fix this problem. Every day feels like the solutions are diluted more and more. I’m so glad that you’ve turned to creativity as a response. Me too. We cannot do more than we can do….but we can do this…we can create. We can add beauty, we can put our emotions into art. Bless you today, friend. I feel the heavy freight with you.

  6. Irene Latham says:

    Michelle, I can feel your passion for your subject in your poem! Great striking line, and yay for those book giveaways! May books always bring refuge. xo

  7. Kay Mcgriff says:

    First off, yea for more trains this morning! And more so, I love the powerful voice you express in your poetry. I find writing Golden Shovel poems very difficult, but I love the way they can weave together two voices to amplify the message. Keep speaking and engaging and we will bring change!

  8. jama says:

    Wow, love what you did with your golden shovel — powerful words. Heavy freight indeed — these devastating incidences of gun violence in the schools don’t seem to weigh heavily on the minds of the legislators in power at the moment. They must be voted out in November.

  9. erinmauger says:

    Thanks for sharing. In case anyone wanted to listen to another interview from Nikki Grimes there’s a podcast I particularly like called 88 Cups of Tea : http://88cupsoftea.com/podcast/nikki-grimes/
    Anyway, society inevitably changes but on this issue it doesn’t seem to be changing fast enough!

  10. mbhmaine says:

    I admire how you turn to creativity to express your passions, Michelle. You’ve woven together so much in this rich post: Music, art, literature, and your outrage and sorrow over Santa Fe (and other recent tragic events). Your golden shovel is a powerful plea for our children. I really like the line you chose to “anchor” your poem.

  11. Haven’t thought about “Freight Train” in years, Michelle. A dear family friend who passed in the last couple of years used to sing that with his guitar when we were kids. So many memories come flooding back.

  12. Gun violence is a “heavy freight” for us all. Your poem is moving call to action, Michelle!

  13. Alice Nine says:

    It’s been a long time since I heard “Freight Train, Freight Train…” What a lovely picture book about Elizabeth Cotton! It is new to me. Thank you for sharing it, Michelle, and for your strong voice in your shovel poem. I look for the day when love overcomes fear, hatred, anger, and violence.

  14. Such a thoughtful post, Michelle – thanks for creatively expressing a response to this numbing, horrible state of affairs we’re in re. school shootings.

  15. laurashovan222 says:

    Hi, Michelle. Your golden shovel communicates the heaviness so many of us feel around gun violence in our country. I read Between the Lines a few months ago — loved hearing all of the students’ different stories. Books with overlapping voices can be so powerful.

  16. I’m a great fan of Laura Veirs but I didn’t know about this book or this song! Thanks for highlighting it. Your Golden Shovel’s heartfelt message makes me want to rewrite/update the lyrics. What a guitarist, too!

  17. maryleehahn says:

    I love your golden shovel response to Libba. The repetition is very effective.

  18. I hear your anger about the guns, and I hope for change, too. Those look like excellent books.

  19. Joyce Ray says:

    Your golden shovel poem is perfect. The words of the first line of the chorus align well with the feelings so many of us are experiencing. The losses to gun violence are as heavy on our collective consciousness as freight, and it feels like we’re on a runaway train. Thank you for this, and for sharing about wearorange.org. I looked up events in my area for this weekend.

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