Poetry Friday–Naomi Shihab Nye– “Kindness” & Nature

1-Monarchs Milkweed -m-kogan- 2-23-2018 copy

Milkweed, Hollyhock, Monarchs, Bee, and Dragonfly, © 2016 Michelle Kogan, watercolor and watercolor pencil.

Happy Poetry Friday! Our Host this week is Mary Lee Hahn. Mary Lee is celebrating Naomi Shihab Nye–and asked us all to join in. I took this idea and ran with it. In addition to being an inspiring and accomplished poet, Nye is our new Young People’s Poet Laureate! Thanks Mary Lee for hosting and suggesting to feature Naomi Shihab Nye! Visit Mary Lee’s blog A Year of Reading, for more poetry and some inspiring prompts…


by Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is 
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness

Read the rest of the poem here. Listen to her talk about and read KINDNESS below, along with another video on Teaching Poetry.

Here’s a short bio on Naomi Shihab Nye


Reflecting on Naomi Shihab Nye

Mother wind wrap your
drifting blankets of clouds around me…
Caress me between your
chartreuse and sap green
sea of sprouted spring leaves,
and silvery edged ceruleans kissing the sky
catching the last late afternoon dancing light.

Between squirrel’s ca-ca-ca,
Robin’s chee chee flutter chee,
Crow’s relentless caw-caw-caw,
and the gentle waves of ginkgo branches
blocking the blinding rays of sun–
Let me breathe as if it’s my
first and last breath…

Let me send my sigh out to
all in need wanting a taste
of inalienable rights of life.
Let the hoofed, haired, scaled, and winged
animals walk the earth and set us humans
in our proper place appreciating what
this grand sky above us holds.

Let me close my eyes and
open them anew to your splendors–
New sprouts of milkweed unfolding
stories in each unfurling leaf.
Let me find a path that protects nature
even in a small way, protects you–
Let me never give up on you, Mother Nature…

© 2019 Michelle Kogan


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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19 Responses to Poetry Friday–Naomi Shihab Nye– “Kindness” & Nature

  1. maryleehahn says:

    So much to love here, Michelle! Your art! The monarchs and milkweed! “Kindness,” by NSN! And then your poem. Oh, that final line. May we never give up!

  2. lindabaie says:

    She, and you, remind us wonderfully about the gifts we have free if only we pay attention! Beautiful post, Michelle all wrapped up with your art, Naomi’s poem, and your own lovely words. This “Mother wind wrap your/drifting blankets of clouds around me… is Like Nye’s words so much that I thought you were sharing another of her poems!

  3. haitiruth says:

    Here’s to never giving up! Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

  4. Such a lovely and “kind” poem you shared, Michelle. Love your Monarch, too!

  5. Oh, you know I love this piece of art, Michelle! And the poems contain the same gentle exuberance and generosity…. thank you! xo

  6. Kay Mcgriff says:

    Thank you for sharing Nye’s Kindness poem. I had not read it before, and it took my breath away. And then I read your poem to Mother Nature and sank down into it’s embrace. It is lovely to read as I listen to the wind and birds outside.

  7. macrush53 says:

    Kindness is one of my favorites. Love the painting and the response. Beautiful!

  8. cvarsalona says:

    I see that my comment never made it to this box so let me start again and say what a beautiful combination of artwork and poetry. Thank you for sharing the NSN videos that I am going to use in my PD series since kindness is a definite way to start the school year with a #startstrong message. Michelle, would you like to offer your drawing for my spring gallery? Your poem is beautiful so I am wondering how that can be showcased too. Perhaps, stanza one can be a stand alone with your credit and link to the rest of the poem under a stand alone of your artwork??? Or Maybe you have something else you would like to showcase.

  9. cweichel says:

    Oh Michelle there is just so much here. First off NSN’s poem just gobsmacked me, and then yours had me nearly in tears. I recently reviewed a non fiction picture book, You Are Never Alone by Elin Kelsey & Soyeon Kim, that opened my eyes to just how completely Mother Nature has our backs. We tinker with her at our own peril.

  10. margaretsmn says:

    “Let me never give up.” I’ll carry that wish with me. Sometimes the task looks too big to carry. Thanks for this post. Kindness is one of the poems I carry on Poem in your Pocket Day.

  11. Michelle Heidenrich Barnes says:

    Reading your post today reminds me of how much I enjoyed getting lost in my research when I was going to interview Naomi. And your beautiful painting today reminds me so much of the beautiful cover your did for The Best of TLD! I’m swooning here! Your heartfelt reflection poem is the icing on the cake.

  12. This is a post to save and savor, Michelle! Like so many others, “Kindness” is one of my favorite poems, and I will return to the video of Naomi talking about sharing poetry with students often. Your poem is stunning! I especially love “Let me close my eyes and/open them anew to your splendors.” Such an important reminder to us all. Thank you for sharing!

  13. Karen Edmisten says:

    Beautiful post in every way, Michelle, and “Kindness” has long been a favorite of mine.

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