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Get ready to hear from northern Illinois’ “prose pros." Poetically Yours airs Fridays during Here and Now at 12:31 and All Things Considered at 6:18 p.m. Hosted by WNIJ Arts Reporter Yvonne Boose, you will hear voices from northern Illinois poets as they share their words about the world around them. This weekly segment will give you a moment of pause and reflection as your wind down the week. If you would like to submit a poem for consideration, please send submissions to yboose@niu.edu

Poetically Yours Ep. 57 - Labor Day Across Northern Illinois

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Provided by Quentin Johnson
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Quentin Johnson

Welcome to WNIJ's Poetically Yours. Poetically Yours showcases poems by northern Illinois poets. Today's poem is by Aurora Deputy Poet Laureate, Quentin Johnson. 

Johnson was born in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea to missionary parents. He grew up in the Midwest living in Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Michigan. He has lived most of his life in Illinois, having resided in Metropolis, Ashkum, Oak Park and Aurora.

Johnson graduated from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa with degrees in Scandinavian Studies and African and African American Studies. He also lived and studied in Norway receiving a certificate in Sociology, while also studying Norwegian history and literature, psychology and international intelligence agencies.

Johnson says he is a word nerd and loves language. He has studied French, Spanish, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish and Ancient Greek. His choral career included additional work in Latin, Italian and German. When working with non-native English speakers, Johnson breaks the ice by asking people to teach them words in their mother tongues, like Persian, Russian, Polish, Gujarati, Korean and Mandarin.

Johnson works as an Animal Control Officer for the City of Aurora. He’s held this position for over 25 years. He is also a Deputy Poet Laureate for the City of Aurora. Johnson seeks to celebrate the cultural uniqueness of all people and their contributions to the great American melting pot. In his free time, he enjoys being with his wife and kids. You may also find him knitting on occasion.

Here's his poem Labor Day poem “The Hard-Working People of Northern Illinois.”

From the waitress in Waukegan,

To the Milledgeville mechanic,

When the work just must get done,

Our people do not panic!

The farmers out in Forreston,

And the plumbers in Peru,

Wake early every morning,

Long before me and you!

Butchers and bakers,

Phone order takers,

Bus drivers,

And teachers, too!

Show up every day,

Earning their way,

Making life better,

Seeing it through!

So, from Galena to Manteno,

And from Loves Park to Aledo,

We are grateful for your labor!

Your work is the reason,

Our Illinois region,

Is always getting greater!

  • Yvonne Boose is a current corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.