#PWID 2018 -Take Flight -Masthead Voting

1-Take Flight-colored type-USE_USE 640 x 360-actual size6-24-2018 copy

Calling all SCBWI-Illinois Members

Voting is open for choosing the

#PWID 2018 – #Take Flight – Masthead

 There’re 17 terrific entries

You can vote between today, July 7– 14 midnight.

So mosey on on over and cast your vote.

Here’s my entry, and link for your viewing and vote.


Posted in Children's Illustration & Writing, Nature, Painting, pen sketch, Pencil Drawing, Picture Book, Sketchbooks, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Poetry Friday–Plein Air & Poetry Swap


Early Summer Garden,WIP,  © Michelle Kogan, brown pen and brush with watercolor.


Happy Poetry Friday


I’m participating in a Plein Air event this Sunday, July 8, 2018

The 9th Annual
Brush with Nature
at the

Emily Oaks Nature Center
4650 Brummel Ave, Skokie, IL 

9:00 am – 12:00 pm

If you are in the neighborhood drop by and say hello.
The Nature Center is also offering a pancake breakfast (for a fee) but I won’t be indulging there as I will be busy with my brush …

Michelle-Kogan-Wildlife-Comes Detail medow lark 7-2018

Here’s a plein air ditty to wet your appetite … 


Plein airing in the park
by the bay, by a lark–

Put up your easel,
pick up your brush–

Your natural muse,

     Nature …

           With her vibrant views.

                                                                     © Michelle Kogan
Image above: detail from Wildlife Comes to Lake Shore Drive, endangered species, pictured here the Eastern Meadow Lark, © 2018 Michelle Kogan, watercolor and watercolor pencil archival
print and cards available in my Etsy Shop: Michelle Kogan Fine Art 

Drum roll please …

I’m happy to share with you these lovely poems and bookmark that I received from Donna JT Smith for the poetry swap. What fun this package was to open–Thank you Donna, I’m loving all here, and will enjoy using the bookmark!



you need 
to mark
your spot!

© 2018 Donna JT Smith

 in the old leaves
of fall

Bunnies huddle,
  new noses
Waiting to wander
  in the fresh 

© 2018 Donna JT Smith

Patricia Stohr-Hunt at her blog The Miss Rumphius Effect is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup, thanks for hosting Pat! Stop by her blog for more poetry offerings.


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

4th of July–haiku & art


have a multi- 
racial-rainbow July 4th

© 2018 Michelle Kogan

Posted in Children's Illustration & Writing, Haiku, Holidays, Painting, Pencil Drawing, Poem, Quick Sketches, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Poetry Friday: Responsibility and Freedom


For this 4th of July Poetry Friday I’m thinking about Responsibility and Freedom. I’m sharing a poem, some art and a taste from the Charles White art exhibit now at The Art Institute of Chicago. If you are here in the US hope you can share the 4th with some family and friends and reflect for a bit on responsibility and freedom.


Ouch–Children are all our responsibility
Open your hearts, your arms, your backward bias
That homeless child needs gentleness, and your humility
Ouch–Children are all our responsibility
That homeless child craves an end to irrational inadmissibility
Treat them as your own, set aside your petty prejudicial impious
Ouch–Children are all our responsibility
Open your hearts, your arms, your backward bias

© 2018 Michelle Kogan

 Images from the exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago, Charles White: A Retrospective,
through September 3, 2018

Charles White was an African American artist, (1918-1979) who created art images about “equality,” and more specifically how equality related to the plight of the African American. He was born in Chicago, and studied at the School of the Art Institute. He was an excellent draftsman, painter, and printmaker. Here is a quote from his interest in “social change,” Paint is the only weapon I have with which to fight what I resent. Visit the Art Institute of Chicago’s website for more on this exhibit.

Drop by Carol at her blog Carol’s Corner for this weeks Poetry Friday Roundup! Thanks for hosting Carol!






Posted in Exhibits, Holidays, Painting, pen sketch, Pencil Drawing, Poem, Quick Sketches, Sketchbooks, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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


Posted in Children's Illustration & Writing, Nature, Painting, pen sketch, Poem, Trips, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 55 Comments

Happy Summer Solstice 2018

1-Summer Solstice 2018


Rose of sharon
Ox eye daisy
Liatris spicata
Tiger lily
Et Al.      

© 2018 Michelle Kogan

Posted in Children's Illustration & Writing, Nature, Poem, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Poetry Friday–Father’s Day


Earthgoddess Bittern Banan TreeEarth Goddess, Bitten and Banana Tree, endangered species, watercolor and watercolor pencil.

Happy Poetry Friday!

Karen Edmisten is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup this week on her blog, thanks Karen!

I’m sharing a tanka poem in memory of my Dad–and a colorful painting, as he enjoyed colors and the perseverance of others which is what this painting is about.


Dad and I set off 
Knocking on neighbors doors 
Most opened their doors 
and then coldly closed them 
But we trudged on further

He was determined 
I was determined too 
Principles lead us 
Principles tried tearing 
us down dad stood his ground

Dark carried us home
But not in heart we held
our heads high discussed
another day to try
Together we moved on

© 2018 Michelle Kogan

Last Saturday I was at a Poetry Foundation Workshop that covered punctuation in poetry, and how different poets use punctuation. Our challenge was to write a poem about a lesson–in two versions, one without punctuation and one with. I’m shared the poem without punctuation.

I’m also sharing this beautiful and tender poem I found, called The Gift, by Li-Young Lee.

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.
Had you followed that boy
you would have arrived here,
where I bend over my wife’s right hand.
Read the rest of the poem at the Poetry Foundation. Here also is Li-Young Lee’s Bio.

See you next week at my blog for the Poetry Friday Roundup–Welcoming Summer with a brand new book!
Posted in Children's Illustration & Writing, Holidays, Nature, Painting, Pencil Drawing, Plein Air Art, Poem, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Poetry Friday–Community #WearOrange


Last Saturday I attended the local #WearOrange rally in Evanston, Illinois. It was in support of victims, friends, and relatives who have lost lives through gun violence and in support of curbing gun violence and helping to prevent it.

There were speakers,  performers, and tables with materials helping you find ways to get involved. It was an invigorating and community building rally to attend!

My concrete poem is in response to the rally:

1-Community–Stop Gun Violence-poem-m kogan- 6-5-2018

A performance and more photos from the rally …… 



By Danez Smith

say it with your whole black mouth: i am innocent
& if you are not innocent, say this: i am worthy of forgiveness,
        of breath after breath

I tell you this: i let blue eyes dress me in guilt
walked around stores convinced the very skin of my palm was stolen

& what good has that brought me? days filled flinching
thinking the sirens were reaching for me

& when the sirens were for me
did i not make peace with god?

so many white people are alive because
we know how to control ourselves.

how many times have we died on a whim
wielded like gallows in their sun-shy hands?

here standing in my own body, i say: the next time
they murder us for the crime of their imaginations

i don’t know what I’ll do.

i did not come to preach of peace 
for that is not the hunted’s duty.

i came here to say what i can’t say
without my name being added to a list

Read the rest of the poem at poets.org


Kiesha is hosting this weeks Poetry Friday Roundup on her blog, Whispers from the Ridge Kiesha Shepard, thanks Kiesha! She’s wrapping summer around her and has shared a summer poem, Summer’s Song. Drop by her blog for a taste of summer and more poems.


Posted in Poem, Theatre & Music, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 21 Comments

Register for my Figures & Nature Class

Hurry Register for my Figures and Nature Class, it starts in One Week, on June 11th at the Evanston Art Center, http://www.evanstonartcenter.org ©️ 2018, Michelle Kogan

Posted in Michelle's Art Classes, Painting, Quick Sketches | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Poetry Friday: Bookmarks


Happy Poetry Friday! I’m celebrating books and bookmarks today, just because I love both and because I have a bevy of bookmark offerings in my online Etsy shop that would love to meet up with one of your books at, Michelle Kogan Fine Art .  This link will land you on the my home page, and from here you can follow the link to my Bookmarks page. So what better way to get this celebration started than with a list poem about bookmarks! 

1--Little-Ditty-Hummingbird-bookmark-front-3-5-2018 copy       IMG_0134


Pieces of paper
poking out of
your pages–
Grab one
nab one
you just gotta
have one …
Tall ones
short ones–
Do you have a favorite one?
By that special author
or that special artist,
or that special critter,
or that one over there …
It became special
just … Because.
Oh me oh my,
your high and dry
without uh one.
We can fix that
in a hurry, but you
better scurry.
Think of all those words
all left alone,
all by themselves–
When you two are in
a completely different zone,
or maybe you’re on that
silly phone,
or I don’t know,
maybe you’re just
off on your own.
Awww now you’re all
tied up in knots,
and you can’t see any words,
but your seeing … SPOTS!
Run right out this minute–
Beg, buy, borrow,
but find a bookmark,
or there may never be
another tomorrow! 

©2018 Michelle Kogan

1--koi-bkmark-back-5-2018    1--Menagerie-of-flowers-&-Bee-bookmark-front-5-2018 copy

And here’s a list poem by Lee Bennett Hopkins.

by Lee Bennett Hopkins

Why sunsets?
Why trees?
Why birds?
Why seas?
Why you?
Why me?
Why friends?

Read the rest of the poem at Nerdy Book Club, along with some other connected topics.

Buffy Silverman at Buffy’s Blog is hosting this weeks Poetry Friday Roundup, and she’s talking about Summer! Thanks Buffy, be sure to stop by her blog for more poetry!

BTW June 1–3 is #WearOrange in support of gun violence prevention, and there are events happening across the country.


Posted in Children's Illustration & Writing, Exhibits, Nature, Painting, pen sketch, Pencil Drawing, Plein Air Art, Poem, Quick Sketches, Sketchbooks, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments