Progressive Poem 2020 is here! #NPM



Welcome to the 2020 Progressive Poem. Created originally, and hosted up to this year by Irene Latham, during National Poetry Month. This year Margaret Simon has picked up the baton and is our new host. Thank you Irene and Margaret, and all participating this year in this welcome pause, and dive into an unknown, evolving poem–and what wonderful meanderings it’s taken us on!

This year Donna Smith at her blog Mainly Write kicked off the poem with some added spice. Instead of offering up one line she wrote two, and gave the next participant the opportunity to choose one of those lines. Well, everyone seemed to love this new turn and has passed it on throughout the month. However, as I’m the last stop in the poem, I decided to break with this pattern and complete the group poem with my one line, added to Fran’s lovely line, and finish our quatrain poem in a couplet as suggested by Fran. But… I would like to invite Donna to come up with a title for our poem. I’m also inviting you all to listen to a WIP rendition I performed of our poem on my banjo–with more time I’m sure it will become tighter, hope you enjoy it. It’s been a lovely romp, thank you all!

Sweet violets shimmy, daffodils sway
along the wiregrass path to the lake.
I carry a rucksack of tasty cakes
and a banjo passed down from my gram.

I follow the tracks of deer and raccoon
and echo the call of a wandering loon.
A whispering breeze joins in our song
and night melts into a rose gold dawn.

Deep into nature’s embrace, I fold.
Promise of spring helps shake the cold.
Hints of sun lightly dapple the trees
calling out the sleepy bees.

Leaf-litter crackles…I pause. Twig snaps.
I gasp! Shudder! Breathe out. Relax…
as a whitetail doe comes into view.
She shifts and spotted fawns debut.

We freeze. My green eyes and her brown
Meet and lock. Time slows down.
I scatter the cakes, backing away
Safely exiting this strange ballet.

I continue the path that winds down to the lake.
Missing my breakfast for beauty’s sake.
But wait, what’s that delicious smell?
Something familiar, I know so well.

It’s a campfire. I follow my nose. I see
a circle of friends waving at me.
I free up my banjo, quicken my pace
Find a place to sit and gaze into space.

Then my fingers pick out the old, old tune
of rejoicing together under an amber moon…

Michelle’s WIP rendition of the 2020 Progressive Poem…

Here’s the progression of the poem:

1 Donna Smith at Mainely Write
2 Irene Latham at Live Your Poem
3 Jone MacCulloch, deowriter
Liz Steinglass
Buffy Silverman
6 Kay McGriff at
7 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
8 Tara Smith at Going to Walden
9 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
10 Matt Forrest Esenwine at Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme

11 Janet Fagel, hosted at Reflections on the Teche
12 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
13 Kat Apel at Kat Whiskers
14 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
15 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
16 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
17 Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
18 Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading
19 Tabatha at Opposite of Indifference
20 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
21 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
22 Julieanne Harmatz at To Read, To Write, To Be
23 Ruth,
24 Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wandering

25 Amy at The Poem Farm
26 Dani Burtsfield at Doing the Work That Matters
27 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge

28 Jessica Bigi at Mainely Write
29 Fran Haley at lit bits and pieces
30 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: and her website:
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36 Responses to Progressive Poem 2020 is here! #NPM

  1. Fran Haley says:

    Oh my goodness- what are the odds of the poem ending with a banjo song in the poetic hands of someone who can actually play it? How meant to be is that? Beautiful ending line and musical rendition, Michelle. It captures exactly the wandering, natural, folk-feel of the poem “story.”
    So glad to have been part of this journey.

  2. What a perfect ending! And I have to say, this is one of the most consistent, focused, and well-structured progressive poems we’ve had over the years. Nicely done, everyone!

  3. I agree with the above and was blown away by Michelle’s putting this poem into music.Thank you so much for doing it. It was so much fun to watch the poem take form these last few weeks and a lovely distraction to look forward to every day.

  4. Linda Mitchell says:

    Oh, my gosh! I love it! This is the best poem yet. So many thanks to Donna for starting it off as a choose your own adventure and for each line. I love how the song holds together all the way through. Beautiful. Thanks for the musical rendition, Michelle. You really brought it alive.

  5. lindabaie says:

    Michelle, your own ending is wonderful, but to add your banjo rendition and singing is the very best for all of us. Thank you for taking the time to make it very, very special! What a lovely thing to greet my day, saying goodbye to April!

  6. Janet F. says:

    Oh a banjo song, having grown up in the time of folk music circles, hootenannies etc. I love how you have ended out poem, Michelle. Kismet? I agree with Matt and I have always loved out poems no matter the variation. Some stick with me….one from the early days especially….certain lines and imagines. In a poetry class I took once, we tossed lines from some poems “into the hat” and then we had a “fake” auction to find a few lines that “spoke to us.” From that we created a new poem (with permission of course from the originator of our borrowed line.) It is lovely to be part of the Kidlitosphere’s poetic band and the Poetry Friday bloggers. Thanks for always being so welcoming and Bravo to Margaret and Irene for their work!! Keep poetry alive every month…..will we ever forget this April?

  7. Donna Smith says:

    Wonderful! I had worked on setting it to music also, on the keyboard to get the tune, but am not a pianist… was going to try to translate it to uke then… but this is way better. So, banjo! Yes!!!! Perfect ending to a beautiful poem. Maybe we can all meet by a campfire someday!

  8. Wow–amazing how this all worked out! Thank you, Michelle! Great work, everyone:>)

  9. What a treat! Thanks for ending with a song, Michelle. This year’s poem was full of harmony, wasn’t it? Much needed in these challenging days. Passing around the virtual S’mores to all, and campfire applause for the banjo player!

  10. haitiruth says:

    Whoa! Where did that banjo come from?! Thanks for the line and the performance, and thanks, everybody, for participating! Let’s do it again next year! Ruth,

  11. cvarsalona says:

    Congratulations, all travelers on this poetic adventure! This poem has taken so many beautiful turns and ended with a look back at the beginning. Well done, Michelle. The last line is a beauty and to think that you would be able to sing a song with a banjo. Since this poem story is so well-constructed and fits in with the theme of my #NatureNurtures2020, I would like to showcase in the gallery with credit to everyone. Michelle, would I be able to add your musical rendition, as well? I’m off to add a comment on Twitter and other social media platforms.

  12. maryleehahn says:

    Amazing! Three cheers for all of us winding up at the campfire with you playing the banjo!!

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  14. How perfect to end this month with your banjo playing of the poem! Well done–I feel like I’m gathered around the campfire with all of the progressive poem poets.

  15. rosecappelli says:

    What a fun way to spend poetry month! I am grateful to Margaret who invited me to join in the fun. I love the way the poem evolved and the circular feel at the end. I’m so glad the cakes and the banjo returned! Thank you, Michelle, for a wonderful ending and the musical treat.

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  17. Well done, Michelle! I loved hearing your musical version of our poem. Hooray for all the poets who made this year’s poem one of my all-time favorites!

  18. mbhmaine says:

    Whoa! What a fabulous ending, Michelle! This poem has been a delight from start to finish.

  19. katswhiskers says:

    Oh my. This month has flown by! So glad I managed to sneak back in for the ending – and to see and hear you, Michelle. What a treat! Always fun to take part in the Progressive Poem. Thank-you all!

    (Hootenannies, Janet! I thought it was a playful made-up word. I didn’t realise it was an event of some sort.)

    • Janet F. says:

      We would sit in circles on the gym floor and sing folk songs while some played acoustic guitar sometimes a flute…..had them a lot. Maybe some videos from those days exist…..They were fun. Think Peter, Paul and Mary. So many songs… was sweet and fun.

  20. Kay Mcgriff says:

    This is fabulous, Michelle! Who knew way back when the banjo first appeared that you would send us off with a banjo tune! Well done! It has been such fun to take part in the Progressive Poem this year and watch it grow from day to day.

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  22. jama says:

    Blown away that you can play the banjo — what a great way to end what is my favorite progressive poem thus far.

  23. Joyce Ray says:

    It’s lovely to see you here, Michelle! What an extra special treat to hear you put the poem to music. This is quite an accomplishment. Congratulations to all the poets!

  24. YES! to “of rejoicing together under an amber moon.”
    Michelle, it’s an unexpected treat to read the complete lovely spring poem & hear it played & sung. Just too too, wonderful.
    I agree with those who say this is their most-ever favorite Progressive Poem of APM. 🙂

    You are such a treasure to Poetry Friday & to me.

  25. A.Maz.Ing. start to finish…and the banjo playing – holy wow! So cool on so many levels. : )

  26. Ramona says:

    This old, old tune was begging for that amber moon. Such a satisfying ending! And who knew that our finalist would be able to add a banjo tune to our poem? Sheer delight! Sorry I’m late to the progressive poem party. Feeling a bit sad that April’s poetry shenanigans are over. Maybe that’s why I stretched the ending into May.

    • Janet F. says:

      Ah, so nice to hear about Amy’s poem, too. I do love the PP in any year, but this one has a lovely flow and lyrical quality. A walk in the woods that I think we all need right now.

  27. Ramona says:

    Just read everyone’s comments and I can’t help but think about Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s poem, “Fire.” It ends with these words: “Let someone light/ the poem fire./ Let all friends/ gather here.”
    So grateful for this nourishing gathering. Thank you, Irene, for your years of guidance and thank you, Margaret, for accepting the baton!

  28. Heidi Mordhorst, Poet says:

    Whoa nelly–just as others have said, what serendipity that the poem with a banjo should end at the feet of the poet with a banjo! Michelle, your rendition, with its stops and starts, imperfections and perfect adjustments of spirit, is the soundtrack for this April that, as Janet F say, we will never forget. Huzzah to all who contributed!

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