#Poetry Friday–New Poet Laureate & “Solstice Amis”

Happy Poetry Friday!
I was happy to hear that Joy Harjo is our new United States Poet Laureate. Her life of being a multitalented artist–poet, musician, and playwright, and her poetry all speak to me resoundingly. I’m sharing one of her poems and a video below of another.

And, as it’s our Summer Solstice weekend I have a poem to share about my thoughts on our climate in relation to the solstice.


By Joy Harjo

I had a beautiful dream I was dancing with a tree.

                                                                   —Sandra Cisneros

Some things on this earth are unspeakable:
Genealogy of the broken—
A shy wind threading leaves after a massacre,
Or the smell of coffee and no one there—

Some humans say trees are not sentient beings,
But they do not understand poetry—

Nor can they hear the singing of trees when they are fed by
Wind, or water music—
Or hear their cries of anguish when they are broken and bereft—

Now I am a woman longing to be a tree, planted in a moist, dark earth
Between sunrise and sunset—

Read the rest of the poem here

Here is Joy Harjo reading her poem REMEMBER.

Read a bio and more on Joy Harjo here


Pics from my garden, above, top, and below…


I consulted the month 
and double checked the date,
I wondered… and pondered… 
Why, season start so late…

I looked up to the sky 
finally full of leaves, 
My eyes wanting hope 
disbelieving disbeliefs.

I returned to nature 
for her guiding knowledge, 
She’s here in disguise, 
open your eyes, acknowledge.

Weather hadn’t foiled flowers 
despite the cold and rains, 
Although, pollinators 
are low with these constrains.

Come now all you humans,
you like flowers, birds–bees… 
Does our climate know it’s 
Summer? Help her out Please.

The talented and creative Linda Mitchell at her blog: A Word Edgewise is our Poetry Friday host this week, thanks for hosting Linda! Linda’s asked all of us to offer up a line of poetry “that has not seen the light of day” and have it available to exchange with a poet friend. Here’s my line:

Looking forward to feeling  
              the warm sun of summer…

© 2019 Michelle Kogan

…So hop on over to Linda’s blog for lots more poetry goodness and a new line or too!

© 2019 Michelle Kogan



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

Posted in Children's Illustration & Writing, Haiku, Home, Nature, Nature photos, Poem, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Poetry Friday–Father’s Day


Sleepy Moon, © 2019 Michelle Kogan digital image created in Procreate.

Happy Poetry Friday!

I’m reflecting on Father’s for Father’s Day and focusing on Father’s who are no longer with us.


In a wink the light of life is out,
But between that wink lay
a lifetime of memories…
Remembering my father and
the emotions that filled his life,
his unconditional love for
family and humanity
floats to the top and
swelled within his heart,
a love that grew deeper
as he grew older–

His eyes if deep with sorrow,
outwardly mirrored strength of character,
and pools of passionate hope.

His thoughts ever filled with
financial din, were always open
to those oppressed.

His mouth, which marveled to move loquaciously,
carried his loving voice, seeking an ever
constant connection to others.

His heart with which he felt so powerfully
the joy and pain of others, touched us all and spilled over
with a profound pulsing love towards all.  

© 2019 Michelle Kogan

I think I may have shared the poetry of Li-Young Lee before or even this poem, but here it is again… He has such a sensitive way with his thoughts and words. 

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.

Read the rest of the poem here

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there and all those remembering their Dad’s too!


Be sure to buzz on over to Laura Shovan’s blog Laura Shovan, she is our Queen Bee Poetry host rounding-up all of us worker bees this week for the Poetry Friday Roundup! Thanks for hosting Laura!
Posted in Children's Illustration & Writing, Holidays, Home, Nature, Poem, Quick Sketches, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Poetry Friday Roundup is Here–Celebrating Tracy K. Smith at the Chicago Public Library


Happy Poetry Friday–The Roundup is here!

On Saturday, April 27, 2019, I had the privilege and honor of hearing Tracy K. Smith, our  22nd US Poet Laureate at the Chicago Public Library’s Poetry Fest. A compelling poet, she is as warm, sharing, and inviting as all her images portray her. I was captured and moved by her talk and poetry readings.

She read from Life on Mars, 2011, which received a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Her book asks these questions, ” What do we belong to?” and What are we?” She also read from Wade in the Water, 2018. Wade in the Water includes poems from letters that black soldiers wrote to family members and to the President; correspondence between slave owners; threats to the environment, and more.


By Tracy K. Smith

for the Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters

One of the women greeted me.
I love you, she said. She didn’t
Know me, but I believed her,
And a terrible new ache
Rolled over in my chest,
Like in a room where the drapes
Have been swept back. I love you,
I love you, as she continued
Down the hall past other strangers,
Each feeling pierced suddenly
By pillars of heavy light.
I love you, throughout
The performance, in every
Handclap, every stomp.
I love you in the rusted iron
Chains someone was made
To drag until love let them be
Unclasped and left empty
In the center of the ring.
I love you in the water
Where they pretended to wade,
Read the rest of the poem here and listen to Tracy K. Smith recite it below.

I also want to share one of Tracy K. Smith’s recordings from The Slowdown. The Slowdown is a podcast done weekdays by Smith where, she “delivers a different way to see the world – through poetry. Produced in partnership with the Library of Congress and the Poetry Foundation.” Below I’ve included the last portion of the poem, Beehive, by Jean Toomer, Here’s a link to The Slowdown site, look for the BEEHIVE recorded on May 30, 2019.


By Jean Toomer

Earth is a waxen cell of the world comb,
And I, a drone,
Lying on my back,
Lipping honey,
Getting drunk with that silver honey,
Wish that I might fly out past the moon
And curl forever in some far-off farmyard flower.
Read the beginning part of the poem here.

1a-Bee in flower- 6-1-2019

I wanted to write a poem that would complement some of the poems I’ve shared here. I felt a pull to write about the tragic life events that came sharply in focus last week with another mass shooting– Tracy K. Smith weaves life both contemporary and historical into her poems, sometimes subtlety and sometimes frankly–my poem follows more of the later form. In her talk, she also shared a bit about her system for writing, which included, (paraphrased) … start your poem with a “question or itch,” try and get traction, see if the sound or image can move forward. Here’s my itch…


It’s almost summer
Greens growing everywhere
Flowers of all colors have finally come out
Breathing sighs of beauty
Waiting for your breath to breathe in,
But the guns never seem to go away…

12 lives lost in Virginia Beach
Take a minute think about them–
Their brother, mothers, friends,
Another mass shooting
Guns Kill–that’s their purpose
Take them away and they can’t kill.
How can we sweep this aside–
Life moves on–
Your daughter texts you about getting home
But the guns never seem to go away…

7 lives lost in Chicago
Over Memorial Day weekend.
With 43 individuals shot
–Individuals– we need people
Seen and to see themselves
As individuals, with value and worth.
Chicago has a new woman Mayor
She said of this event, it’s going to take a long time…
We all have to “dig down deeper and ask ourselves
what we can do to step up to stem the violence.”
But the guns never seem to go away…

Guns Kill–that’s their purpose
Take them away and they can’t kill.
Take them away and individuals might
Start seeing some of summer’s greens
Waiting for their breath to breathe in,
Waiting for their breath to begin to breathe…

© 2019 Michelle Kogan

Please add your links below so all can partake of all the poetry goodness for this week!

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

Also Tabatha Yeatts at her site The opposite of Indifference has a request:

“Send me links to your posts if they are poems about/to/inspired by Naomi Shihab Nye!”

Here’s the post that I will be adding them to:


Posted in Nature, Painting, Pencil Drawing, Plein Air Art, Poem, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 45 Comments

Register for Michelle Kogan’s Summer Art Classes

1a-Dalawn bike pants-6-2-2019

Figure study, © 2019 Michelle Kogan, watercolor pencil.


Register for one of my Summer Art Classes at the Evanston Art Center, they begin in one week, on June 10, 2019. I’m offering the following classes & workshops. For Registration and info visit the
Evanston Art Center  or call 847-475-5300.

–Figures and Nature Drawing/Painting

–Watercolors: Materials, Composition & Technique

–Children’s Picture Book Illustration

–Poetry and Art

–Pen & Ink & Watercolor

–Plein Air in the City

–Plein Air in the City 2-Day Workshop

–Pen & Ink & Dr. Martin Watercolor Workshop

Posted in Children's Illustration & Writing, Exhibits, Haiku, Michelle's Art Classes, Nature, Painting, pen sketch, Pencil Drawing, Picture Book, Picture Book Sketches, Plein Air Art, Poem, Quick Sketches, Sketchbooks, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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


Posted in Children's Illustration & Writing, Home, Nature, Painting, Plein Air Art, Poem, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Poetry Friday–Pondering…

1a-Sunflowers and Hand-5-23-2019

Pondering, © 2019 Michelle Kogan, watercolor pencil,  after the sculpture Clytie, by William Henry Rinehart, 1872, Marble, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and my trip there.

Happy Poetry Friday!

Dani Graham Burtsfield is hosting this weeks Poetry Friday Roundup at her blog Doing the Work that Matters–thanks for hosting Dani!  Stop by for your fill of poetry goodness.



Scrutinize eye and hand,
Slow down,
look around,
find a space
of deep breathing,
find a space
of deep thinking,
find a space
of pondering…

© 2019 Michelle Kogan

Here’re some pics from my trip to NYC last week. Click on the images for a larger view. The Images include:
Sanctuary from the Museum at the Eldridge, in the Eldridge Synagogue; Books in the library of the Morgan Library; Les Paul Guitar belonging to Steve Miller from the exhibit Play it Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll Metropolitan Museum of Art, (Met); Women painted on Doors in the High Line; Ukifune’s attempt to drown herself, inspired by the painting Ophelia by John Everett Millais by Yamato Waki, 1992, from the exhibit The Tale of Genji, Met;  Fashions from the exhibit at the Met: Camp: Notes on Fashion; Pomegrantes from the exhibit at the Met: The World Between Empires, Art and Identity in the Ancient Middle East; Painting and Sculpture from the Whitney Biennial 2019.

Posted in Children's Illustration & Writing, Home, Nature, Painting, Pencil Drawing, Plein Air Art, Poem, Trips, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Poetry Friday: Peonies

1a-peony buds 5-14-2019 copy

Happy Poetry Friday! I’ve been patiently waiting for the weather to warm. The flowering plants are waiting too… I’m sharing a dizain poem and painting about my peonies and their journey this spring. I learned about the dizain from Molly Hogan’s lyrically moving dizain called Rainy Spring Lament that she wrote last week and decided to try one, thanks Molly.

I’m taking a weekend get-away to see the Whitney Biennial in NYC and hope to catch some of the Poetry Friday posts on my return. 
Margaret Simon has graciously taken my place this week and is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup at her blog Reflections on the Teche. Be sure to stop by her blog for your fill of poetry goodness! Thanks for hosting Margaret!


Ants on the peonies barely moving,
robust buds slightly shriveled and forlorn,
is their sweet nectar now disapproving,
the weather’s been withdrawn and woebegone.
And blooms–have they taken an about turn–
Will we miss their fine feathery fanfare,
their rich, enrapturing, awesome affair…
I’ve waited all year for their dainty dance,
delicate curtsy, and savoir-faire flare–
Here’s hoping warmth’l enhance their meager stance.

© 2019 Michelle Kogan

Addendum to the weather… Perhaps Mother Nature heard my cries for we had a gorgeous and warm spring-like day following my writing this poem.



Posted in Children's Illustration & Writing, Nature, Painting, Plein Air Art, Poem, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

#Poetry Friday–Mother’s Day & dandelions

bouquet of dandelions with bow-5-9-2019

Happy Poetry Friday and Happy Almost Mother’s Day!

I’m sharing  some small thoughts for Mom’s and nature…
Elizabeth Steinglass is hosting this weeks Poetry Friday Roundup at her blog ELIZABETH STEINGLASS Poetry for Children and their Grownups, thanks for hosting Liz! Liz has a debut picture book in verse on soccer that’s coming out soon, it’s called SOCCERVERSE POEMS ABOUT SOCCER. Stop by her blog for more poetry goodness and to check out her book!


Does anybody like you,  
you’re a flower too. 
Like a sun fallen from the sky 
skirted in dainty ray florets– 
Some cadmium yellow 
dance around your middle 
while others flash a hint of lime green.   
Your jaggedy leaves add an   
extra bonus on our salad fairs, 
and your light ruby red stems 
add an extra flair of savoir-faire. 
You’re perfect in each and every way, 
a neglected stepchild loaded with 
oodles of essential potential. 
I’ll only collect a few of you,   
a sister, brother, aunt, and uncle,
rap a ribbon round your center,    
and tie a tidy bow…  
My mother would be so pleased 
I didn’t take a tulip, daisy, or rose–   
But only you… You lonely, lovely one, 
darling dandelion for my  
Mother’s Day nosegay!

©2019 Michelle Kogan

I’ve been hunting around for another Mother’s Day poem to share, and on my journey I found this poem Summer at the Orphanage by Laure-Anne Bosselaar. The poem is from my book If Bees Are Few A Hive of Bee Poems. As I couldn’t find it online, to share the rest with you, you’ll have to make a trip to your local library or bookstore to savor the rest, or let your fingers do the walking…


by Laure-Anne Bosselaar

The bee dozes in a lily’s yellow throat. July sighs
over the convent’s garth where an old
linden blooms & bees hover
                low –– exhausted by the loads of pollen.

I’m only five, but exhausted too: I know longing’s
                      weight in my lungs & legs, so I 
shelter the bee there, in its buttery abundance,
               my shadow a dome over the bloom.

At dust, the chapel bells thorn the air. Swarms
        of uniforms flock toward that bronze authority.
I’m alone. The courtyard is empty
                             & large as absence suddenly –– silent
as my mother, dark as her back & black car as she drove away,
                                                flicking her ashes out the window.

Light dies. I fear the bee might get caught here ––
       in this nunnery, like me ––so I stroke its belly from
under the bloom’s throat & lazy, slow, it comes out
                golden as mother’s jewelry.


Posted in Children's Illustration & Writing, Home, Nature, Painting, Pencil Drawing, Plein Air Art, Poem, Sketchbooks, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

#Poetry Friday–Fleur de vigne

1-Asian lillies-cropped-5-2-2019 .jpg

I’m dreaming about summer flowers and sunshine…


Fleur de vigne
went through the wash
umpteen-some times

shriveled email
rescued at last
contact reclaimed

anecdote note
photo those scraps
else they’ll fade away…

©2019 Michelle Kogan


Happy Poetry Friday!

I wasn’t going to post anything this week for I am on my way out the door to a SCBWI Midwest Conference in the morning. But I read Jama’s lovely flowered filled post and wanted to add some more flowers to our chilly May beginning. Thank you for your lovely post Jama in words and images! Visit Jama’s blog  Jama’s Alphabet Soup for some delectable strawberries, rich poetry, art, and more poetry listings. Hope to catch up with all the poetry offerings on my return. Thanks for hosting this week Jama!

Posted in Nature, Painting, Pencil Drawing, Plein Air Art, Poem, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

#NaPoWriMo Day 30, #watercolor



1-pink succulent 4-30--2019


Splash of color
ripple of chords
taste of beauty–
Adieu to you
Dear poetry month,
see you soon,
as a day
without poetry
will never do…

© 2019 Michelle Kogan


For National Poetry Month, I’m writing poems inspired by art that I create or have created. Visit these spots on line to participate in National Poetry Month: Academy of American Poets,  Jama’s Rattigan’s Blog for the Kidlitoshphere Events Roundup:Jama’s Alphabet Soup  and #NaPoWriMo 

Posted in Children's Illustration & Writing, Nature, Painting, Pencil Drawing, Poem, Sketchbooks, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment