Poetry Friday: “BAYOU SONG” Book Review & Roundup


Happy Poetry Friday!

Today I have an extra special double bill. First, I’m hosting Poetry Friday for the very first time–and you can leave your poetry links with Inlinkz’s friendly frog below.

Second, drum roll please … I’m rolling out my summer green carpet to welcome
Margaret Simon with her brand new book, so come along it’s 

Time for a

Virtual Summer Vacation …

Kick your feet up and relax with

Bayou Song

Creative Explorations
of the
South Louisiana Landscape 

Poetry by Margaret Simon
Photography by Henry Cancienne
Illustrations by Anna Cantrell
(UL PRESS, University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press, 2018)


Margaret, I’m happy and honored to have you here with your gorgeous poetry book, Bayou Song Creative Explorations of the South Louisiana Landscape–and what better time to embark on a virtual summer vacation than summer solstice. I thought we’d do this as a virtual road trip, and have you share your inspirations and the critters that can be found along the Bayou Teche during the summer.

1st Road Stop–Let’s begin with your ideas and inspirations for this rich book, and how long it was in the making.

I started writing this collection in April 2017. The first poem I wrote was requested by
J. Patrick Lewis for the upcoming National Geographic’s The Poetry of US.  Bayou Song became the title poem for the book.

 In September of 2017, I pitched the book idea to UL Press. They allowed me to find my own illustrator.  I had met Anna Cantrell at a friend’s gallery and knew that her style would fit the poems, so I contacted her and she began working. We finished the manuscript in January, 2018.  

Even though I live on the bayou, I did have to do some research on the animals, birds, and plants. Each poem is grounded in research as well as poetic form. I have a long list of poets who inspire me. 

Fill us in a bit on the photo selections and the text that accompanies them.

UL Press is dedicated to educational publications. I added the photographs and the nonfiction text to bring in an element of research to enrich the poetry experience. Henry is an amazing photographer of South Louisiana. He offered many photos to choose from. I also included a few of my own photos and some from renowned Louisiana photographer Philip Gould. I met with Philip early on, so his photographs inspired many of the poems.  

4-Screen Shot 2018-06-03 at 1.21.14 AM

From Bayou Song, text © Margaret Simon, Photography © Henry Cancienne Illustrations © Anna Cantrell

2nd Road Stop–I really enjoyed the space you allowed following your poems inviting the readers to write and sketch. Would you fill us in a bit on this, and how it relates to you.

As a teacher, I have been attracted to the format that Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell have used for their books,  Here we Go and You Just Wait. (I have a poem in Here We Go.) Pomelo Books.  In each of their poetry “Power Packs,” they invite students to write. I wanted to do this, too. Anna’s illustrations lend themselves to an invitation to drawing as well. My publisher, James Wilson at UL Press, had the idea of a spiral binding to make the book more interactive for kids because it would open flat like a textbook. I think this adds to the uniqueness of the format of the book. 

5-Screen Shot 2018-06-03 at 1.21.29 AM

From Bayou Song, text © Margaret Simon, Photography © Henry Cancienne Illustrations © Anna Cantrell


Sometimes on the bayou in Louisiana
a storm rolls in quickly–
Cypress trees
sway to the sound,

Sometimes on a quiet day
when the sun is high and hot
a heron happens by–
The bayou slows to the beat of his wading.

The song of the bayou
can be as fast and frenetic as a Zydeco two-step
or as soft and slow as a Cajun waltz–
The bayou sings a song to me.

Would you tell us about the backstory for writing Bayou Song.

My husband and I love to dance Cajun and Zydeco. We’ve taken lessons and try to go out at least once a week. This has become an empty nest activity that makes our time together so much fun. Looking for a metaphor about the movement of the bayou, I naturally gravitated to the dance metaphor. I giggled with childlike delight when Anna created this clever image of the herons dancing and the possum strumming the fiddle. 

Barred owl

From Bayou Song, text © Margaret Simon, Photography © Henry Cancienne Illustrations © Anna Cantrell

3rd Road Stop–The summer bayou seems to be busy around the clock, from early morning with great blue heron’s, till late at night with wise old barred owls. Would you speak to us about some of the summer animals that you picked to include in your book.

Most of the animals in the book live year round near the bayou. In the summer, I hear the barred owl calling at night and even early in the morning. The great white egret or great blue heron will wade in the shallows stealthily fishing. By summer, baby alligators have hatched so the mothers are not as threatening. Sometimes nutria can be seen swimming along the shore foraging for vegetation. This spring I had a huge raccoon drinking from the hummingbird feeder. We have to pick up the cat food at night or my dog Charlie will go nutso when this raccoon forages for supper. The summer heat keeps most of the animals lazily hiding in the shade.  

5-Screen Shot 2018-06-03 at 1.09.04 AM

From Bayou Song, text © Margaret Simon, Photography © Henry Cancienne Illustrations © Anna Cantrell


Mr. Owl hoots a call,
Who cooks for you all?

Soulful eyes
From hollow spies

Moon rises 
Forest disguises

Shadows dance
Bayou’s trance

Marking mole,
mouse, or vole–

Barred wings hover
Strong talons cover

Noiseless flight
Deep dark night

Fill us in on your backstory for the Barred Owl poem.

Truly I can hear a barred owl call every night if I listened long enough. They are very common and are known for their “Who cooks for you” call. The form is one inspired by my friend, poet Irene Latham from her book The Sun Shines on Antartica. (Many of the forms of poems included in the book were inspired by my poet friends at Poetry Friday. 

As we say adieu I’d like to share one of the  resounding reviews for Bayou Song,

“Part field guide, part poetry collection, and part naturalist’s notebook, this symphony of words, art and images will leave readers spellbound by the beauty of the bayou. Inspiration abounds, and nature-lovers young and old will thrill at the opportunity to add their own poems and sketches to this celebration of South Louisiana’s unique landscape.”
–Irene Latham, poetry editor for Birmingham Arts Journal and author of Leaving Gee’s Bend, 2011 ALLA Children’s Book of the Year.

For more outstanding reviews visit: University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press

Thanks Margaret for this fascinating nature, critter filled poetry book–I’m looking forward to making an actual trip there one day! Would you fill us in on any particulars about the book that you would like to share, how it can be obtained and future blog stops.

The Book is available on Amazon and ULPress and can be ordered through any distributor. 

Bayou Song

Creative Explorations
of the
South Louisiana Landscape 

Poetry by Margaret Simon
Photography by Henry Cancienne
Illustrations by Anna Cantrell
Published by University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press (June 2018)

To all in the continental US, if you are interested in winning a free book give-away for Bayou Song that will be signed by Margaret Simon, please leave your full name and email address in the comments along with the words Bayou Song Give-Away

Bayou Song Blog Tour

To read more exciting posts about Margaret Simon’s debut children’s poetry book, Bayou Song, follow this blog tour.

Tuesday, June 26:
Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core

Friday, June 29:
Ruth Hersey at There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town

Friday, July 6:
Kimberly Hutmacher at Kimberly Hutmacher Writes

Friday, July 13:
Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise

Tuesday, July 17:
Laura Shovan 

Tuesday, July 24
Amanda Potts at Persistence and Pedagogy

Friday, July 27:
Carol Varsalona at Beyond LiteracyLink

Monday, July 30
Linda Baie at Teacher Dance

Friday, Aug. 3
Dani Burtsfield at Doing the Work that Matters


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
This entry was posted in Children's Illustration & Writing, Nature, Painting, pen sketch, Poem, Trips, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

55 Responses to Poetry Friday: “BAYOU SONG” Book Review & Roundup

  1. margaretsmn says:

    Thanks for starting off the Bayou Song Blog Tour with this amazing tribute to my book. I am so excited to share this with the world! Thanks!

  2. Michelle, Brava! What an outstanding debut into Poetry Friday with this review of Bayou Song. I am unabashedly in love with this book….the idea of it and the finished product. I’m so proud of all that Margaret has done to see Bayou Song make it into the world. Your road stops are wonderful! Perfect rests on a hot summer solstice day.
    I found myself fretting and a bit overwrought this week. So, I gave myself the assignment of JOY! I share a little bit of that over at A Word Edgewise. https://awordedgewiselindamitchell.blogspot.com/
    See you round the blogs. Happy Poetry Friday and thank you so much for hosting.

  3. Kathy Mazurowski says:

    Thank you Michelle and Margaret. I can’t wait to read this poetry book. Just put it on my list.

  4. laurashovan222 says:

    Thank you for hosting (PF host newbie — high five, Michelle!) I am so excited to see Margaret’s book out in print at long last. Looking forward to this blog tour with BAYOU SONG.

  5. jama says:

    Thanks for the interesting post, Michelle and Margaret. Enjoyed all the photos and sample poems. Looks like a fascinating collection!

  6. mbhmaine says:

    What a treat to find you sharing Margaret’s new book for today’s Poetry Friday! Every time I see more of it, I’m even more enchanted. Kudos to you, Margaret and thanks for hosting, Michelle!

  7. This looks & likes like just the sort of waterside wonderfulness that is called for this summer. Appreciations to Margaret & her harmonic convergence of poetself with photographer & artist & university press & also to Michelle K. for providing this bayou bojangles platform. I can see this book opened up for reading & sketching & dancing. along many cypress shores beyond LA. Brava to all. And, luv that little fiddler…

  8. Michelle and Margaret, Bayou Song is so beautiful. I love Cajun and Zydeco music, and I’ve always longed to know more about the bayou. This seems like a good way. 🙂

  9. I’m so happy for Margaret – congratulations! Thanks for sharing this peek into the book as well as some of the background behind it. These are beautiful poems.

  10. lindabaie says:

    It’s a wonderful introduction to Margaret’s book, each poem is a gem and I love that there is space for readers to write and sketch. That illustration of the title poem is wonderful, too. Thanks, Margaret for this gorgeous creation and thanks, Michelle for the review and for hosting! It’s a lovely review.

  11. Diane Mayr says:

    Margaret, it looks delightful! I’m so happy for you! Enjoy the accolades.

  12. Kay Mcgriff says:

    Thank you for your lovely introduction to Margaret’s book. I love the stops along your summer tour. Even better, we’re headed to New Orleans for vacation next month and have a house on a lake. I hope to spy some of the animals included in Bayou Song while we’re there! I think reading this one will be perfect preparation for our trip!

  13. Tabatha says:

    What a fun field trip! Thanks for taking us to the bayou, Michelle and Margaret! (And thank you for hosting, Michelle. Good job!)

  14. Thank you for hosting! You did a fantastic job. I loved how you formatted the interview like a road trip! And congrats to Margaret. I will definitely be checking this one out.

  15. Thanks for hosting! Have a great weekend!

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  19. Julie Larios says:

    Thanks for hosting, Michelle. Margaret’s Bayou Song looks like a wonderful book (and you’re a welcome addition to our Poetry Friday hosting!)

  20. haitiruth says:

    Thank you for hosting! You did a great job on getting the Blog Tour started! Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

  21. katswhiskers says:

    Oh my! I’ve been gone too long, obviously. I didn’t know this book was happening – but how utterly gorgeous it looks. Love the dual layers with poetry, photography, facts and artwork. Great interview, Michelle – and congratulations, Margaret!

  22. Irene Latham says:

    Dear Michelle, you handled your first-ever PF hosting job with style and grace. Thank you! And so many congratulations to Margaret on delivering this bit of the bayou to the world! xo

  23. Whoo-hoo Margaret! and thank you, Michelle, for this introduction. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing some of this book develop, but the final product is a beautiful surprise. Margaret is such an expert observer of her rich home turf, as well as a playful commentator on the comings and goings of its animals. Can’t wait to see all the various blog tour takes!

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  25. Thank you so much for hosting, Michelle. I can’t wait to read Margaret’s book. I love reading about different places in the United States and the world and what’s unique to them–the animals, the dances, everything. Margaret, congratulations on the book and on the blog tour!

  26. carwilc says:

    Thanks for hosting Michelle! And thanks for this terrific interview! I always love hearing the backstory behind books and poems. I can’t wait to get my copy of Margaret’s book!

  27. Just at the point when I was wondering how to focus my summer reading, I came across this post. A wonderful debut for the host and an auspicious beginning for the author, Margaret Simon. As I read Margaret’s posts over time on Two Writing Teachers, I have become increasingly intrigued by her part of the world. Her attention to her environs and all the creatures who dwell within is enchanting as is her poetry. Kudos to all involved in this very worthy enterprise. My only sadness is that I no longer have a class of students to share this with, but I will share it with whomever I can. Kudos!

  28. Margaret’s book is just beautiful! I was thrilled to read a preview copy, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the finished book–makes me wish I was still teaching to use with students. The poems are gorgeous, and the writing/drawing prompts make it so much fun to interact with! Thanks for sharing here, Michelle, and congratulations, Margaret!

  29. Michelle, your first Poetry Friday roundup is terrific! Congrats. And thanks so much for the interview with Margaret. Her book looks gorgeous and the poems are marvelous.

  30. Michelle, thanks for hosting — what a rich review and post! Margaret, congrats on the new book! It looks absolutely beautiful!

  31. margaretsmn says:

    Poetry Friday is the best cheering section in the blogosphere! Thanks everyone for your enthusiastic response and support.

  32. Ramona says:

    Thanks for hosting, Michelle. And congrats to Margaret for this new book. I love these words “…when the sun is high and hot
    a heron happens by–”
    I fell in love with the violin strumming possum from the title page Margaret shared on her FB video!

  33. Thank you for hosting, Michelle! Margaret’s gorgeous collection is a wonderful introduction to this unique landscape.

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