Poetry Friday–Father’s Day


Earthgoddess Bittern Banan TreeEarth Goddess, Bitten and Banana Tree, endangered species, watercolor and watercolor pencil.

Happy Poetry Friday!

Karen Edmisten is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup this week on her blog, thanks Karen!

I’m sharing a tanka poem in memory of my Dad–and a colorful painting, as he enjoyed colors and the perseverance of others which is what this painting is about.


Dad and I set off 
Knocking on neighbors doors 
Most opened their doors 
and then coldly closed them 
But we trudged on further

He was determined 
I was determined too 
Principles lead us 
Principles tried tearing 
us down dad stood his ground

Dark carried us home
But not in heart we held
our heads high discussed
another day to try
Together we moved on

© 2018 Michelle Kogan

Last Saturday I was at a Poetry Foundation Workshop that covered punctuation in poetry, and how different poets use punctuation. Our challenge was to write a poem about a lesson–in two versions, one without punctuation and one with. I’m shared the poem without punctuation.

I’m also sharing this beautiful and tender poem I found, called The Gift, by Li-Young Lee.

by Li-Young Lee

To pull the metal splinter from my palm
my father recited a story in a low voice.
I watched his lovely face and not the blade.
Before the story ended, he’d removed
the iron sliver I thought I’d die from.

I can’t remember the tale,
but hear his voice still, a well
of dark water, a prayer.
And I recall his hands,
two measures  of tenderness
he laid against my face,
the flames of discipline
he raised above my head.
Had you entered that afternoon
you would have thought you saw a man
planting something in a boy’s palm,
a silver tear, a tiny flame.
Had you followed that boy
you would have arrived here,
where I bend over my wife’s right hand.
Read the rest of the poem at the Poetry Foundation. Here also is Li-Young Lee’s Bio.

See you next week at my blog for the Poetry Friday Roundup–Welcoming Summer with a brand new book!

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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26 Responses to Poetry Friday–Father’s Day

  1. Beautiful memories work with “Dad’s Perseverance”, Michelle. Y
    Thanks also for sharing “The Gift.”
    Your tropical painting “Earth Goddess, Bittern & Banana Tree” takes me to South Florida.

  2. What a wonderful post! I would love that workshop on punctuation in poetry! It’s always a puzzle to me. Any concise tips that you can share? I knocked on doors with my Dad too. It’s not an easy job for a kid. My Dad was running for office and most doors opened to warm neighbors and friends in our tiny town. You’ve brought back some memories I had forgotten about.

    • The Instructor focused on the punctuation that individual poets used, i.e. the well used dash that Emily Dickinson used. She mentioned that punctuation in poetry is up to the poet, ours to take and use as we want to. another poet loves to use the slash—she asked us if there was a punctuation form that we didn’t like, and suggested trying to use it obsessively in a poem. The workshop made me think about punctuation in a totally different light.

  3. Irene Latham says:

    I love so much Li-Young Lee’s poetry, and this one is just wonderful. As is the memory of your dad… thank you for sharing both! And pretty cool to use punctuation or no punctuation… it changes things, doesn’t it? xo

  4. ldk says:

    Love your Father’s Day poem and your lovely painting. Your dad would be proud. Li-Young Lee’s poetry is among my favorites. Thanks for sharing these.

  5. Punctuation is always an issue. Commas can sink companies. 🙂 I love Li-Young Lee’s poem. Yours has a mystery, why were you knocking on doors?

  6. lindabaie says:

    I worry over punctuation, too, glad to know that others think about it, Michelle. Your memory of your dad is wonderful, “Principles tried tearing/ us down dad stood his ground.” Plus more love and hope in Li-Young Lee’s poem. Memories of our parents’ hands, the gentleness they had brings a big smile. Thank you!

  7. jama says:

    Lovely painting and poems, Michelle. Wonderful way to honor your Dad. Have always enjoyed Li-Young Lee’s work.

  8. Kay Mcgriff says:

    I love the memory of your dad you share in your poem–it shows such strength that comes from persevering. The painting is gorgeous! I can see why it feels like a vacation to paint there.

  9. cvarsalona says:

    Michelle, I could picture you in the poem you wrote and wondered if the action in the poem was the beginning of your cry for activism. Thank you for this Father’s Day post to ponder. Every piece was a delight.

  10. Diane Mayr says:

    I would love to have participated in the punctuation workshop! Might there be some online resources shared in the workshop that you could share with us? I think punctuation can be left out if everything else is perfectly clear, but, if there’s any doubt as to which way the reader will go, then it has to be included. I tend to overdo on the punctuation side, but perhaps it’s because things aren’t all that clear to myself?

    • I like the idea of leaving out punctuation, as E.E. Cummings did—and perhaps that’s one of the reasons I’m drawn to haiku, for their lack of it and brevity. I shared some of the focus of the workshop in my response to Linda M. If I remember I’ll pass on some of the sample poems we worked on, Thanks Diane!

  11. Tabatha says:

    I can see where you got your powerful interest in politics and your “never say die” attitude!
    A punctuation workshop sounds incredibly useful.
    I especially like, “Dark carried us home,” which sounds a bit melancholy, but also comforting.

  12. katswhiskers says:

    Such a strong memory of that day with your father, Michelle. I can just imagine the different feelings the actions evoked. I am particularly taken with your bittern. Lovely!

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