Poetry Friday–Women & Spring leaves art activity

Rubbed Spring leaves 3-24-2020

Rubbed Spring Leaves, Michelle Kogan, © 2020, pencil and watercolor.


wash your thoughts in spring’s 
greens, while remembering we
are one of many…

© 2020 Michelle Kogan

Happy Poetry Friday!

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum had an interesting post on lichens and leaves and they talked about the naturalist Elizabeth Emerson Atwater, 1812-1878. While she hails from NYC she spent a good amount of time in my fair city, Chicago, and bequeathed a beautiful rubbed leaf album to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Their post features a few of the leaves that she captured in this album. Her intentions where to become a botanist but due to the times she lived in this didn’t happen, though she did give us this beautiful record of many plants. Here’s an interesting article about Elizabeth Emerson Atwater. I’ve played with leaves in my own art, and decided to collect a few leaves to do some rubbings with too. For the art above I used a piece of rice paper and a #3b drawing pencil (this is a softer pencil). I tried using both the front and back of the leaves. I also added in a bit of my own line, and then laid in some watercolor for the background. I thought this might be fun for students to try or anyone for that matter… I also tried this on a regular piece of copy paper, in case that’s all that’s available for someone else. I also noted the leaves that I used when I knew what they were. You could also try writing a poem from the art you create.

rubbed leaf-pencil sample art-3-25-2020

I’ve been reading and enjoying our Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo’s poetry book, An American Sunrise. There’s an immense amount of material on her over at the Academy of American Poets, and she’ll also be sharing a poem a day next month for National Poetry month. Here’s one of her poems from this collection:

Advice For Countries, Advanced, Developing and Falling”
by Joy Harjo

A country is a person.

A country is a noun, to be bought and sold. I have a deed.

The ruler’s disposition and rules determine the state of being for all constituents.

Each state governs itself without respect for individuals. It’s everyone for themselves.

Power is dangerous when wielded in the hands of one. It is meant to be shared.

I was given this position by cunning, by money, by sex, by family, by God. It belongs to me and no one else.

Read the rest of the poem here.

Last night I wrote a prayer poem with all that’s going on in our unsettling world, that I’ll leave you with it,

Pandemic Prayer

Dear God or power that be
Gather all your children,
Have our hearts beat as one,
Have our acts think for all, 
Help us navigate wisely, humanely, and for all lives.

© 2020 Michelle Kogan

Be safe, be well, xo.

My friend, esteemed poet, and always resource-filled person Tabatha Yeatts is hosting this weeks Poetry Friday Roundup at her blog, Tabatha Yeatts: The Opposite of Indifference–thanks for hosting Tabatha! She’s reflecting on our times and offering a poem called ACCEPTANCE. Be sure to stop by for her post and many more.

Visit Renée LaTulippe’s site No Water River to find out more about what Poetry Friday is.


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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16 Responses to Poetry Friday–Women & Spring leaves art activity

  1. Linda Mitchell says:

    A powerful post, Michelle. I so appreciate you bringing Elizabeth E. Atwater to our attention. I’ve not heard of her…but, wow! What a great #WomensHistoryMonth find. Since my school is closed…and I had started a #WomensHistoryMonth daily highlight of a resource students/teachers could read from our library I’ve switched to links to interesting Women’s History that can be viewed from home.
    Amen and amen to your prayer. I am not afraid…but I call on the sacred to bind us together now.

  2. janicescully says:

    Very powerful poems, both Harjo’s and yours. “Let us navigate wisely.” I wish that every day.

  3. cvarsalona says:

    Michelle, you provided so much here to love and ponder. The end of Joy Harpo’s poem rings true in my ears and your prayer brings peace. “…Help us navigate wisely, humanely, and for all lives.”-A beautiful prayer in these trying times. Now, I am off to hear the Pope bring his prayer to all people.

  4. lindabaie says:

    I love seeing the leaves & learning about the way you used them, Michelle. I have quite a few leaves pressed, so may try something with them. Thanks for that & the link to seeing Atwater’s work. Your prayer brings to light what everyone must strive for: “Have our acts think for all” is one I wish for. Thanks for a rich post and best wishes to you and yours for keeping safe & in good health.

  5. margaretsmn says:

    Your post makes me want to gather leaves and do some art. I think it would soothe my soul. Thanks!

  6. Michelle Heidenrich Barnes says:

    I love the exquisite simplicity of your “Rubbed Spring Greens,” Michelle, and the thoughtful haiku you paired with it as well. I’m going to go share it with Miranda right now. Seems like something she might enjoy doing!

  7. Kay Mcgriff says:

    Michelle, I love so much in this post. Those rubbed leaves are breathtaking (and now I want to try some for myself). Your haiku is beautiful in its simplicity. Those spring greens are saving me right now. And I add AMEN to your Pandemic Prayer.

  8. Thanks for this simple and beautiful poem and art project. A project like this can absorb me and bring me to a new place. Thanks for sharing.

  9. maryleehahn says:

    I love everything about this post — art, haiku, amateur botanist, Harjo, prayer. Amen to all of it. And thank you!

  10. Yes to your prayer! Thank you for this beautiful post, Michelle. Your artwork and process is always inspiring. Be safe and be well. 🙂

  11. jama says:

    Thank you for everything here — your rubbed leaves piece is lovely, and I liked learning about Atwater. Harjo’s poem is very powerful, and your prayer poem is comforting and much needed at this time.

  12. Tabatha says:

    I love your rubbed leaves, Michelle, and that you used copy paper in case that’s what people have. The lilac is beautifully delicate. “Help us navigate wisely” — yes, yes, yes! Thanks, M.!

  13. haitiruth says:

    Such a lovely post, Michelle. Thank you! I just love your “Pandemic Prayer.” Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

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