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00000179-e1ff-d2b2-a3fb-ffffd72a0000WNIJ's "Read With Me" archive collects dozens of interviews with authors from the WNIJ area -- northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.On the third Monday of each month, Morning Edition host Dan Klefstad talks with an author about their latest book, and asks them to read an excerpt. Many of the interviews below feature an additional excerpt reading captured on video.We hope you take the time to read the books featured here. And if you talk about them on social media, please use #WNIJReadWithMe.

Poem Recalls Syrian Family

Dan Klefstad

Porterfield introduces and reads "We in the Middle."

Poet Susan Azar Porterfield remembers meeting a Syrian family in Beirut. She was visiting Lebanon during a period of peace, in 2003.

The Syrians were brand new parents and allowed Porterfield to hold their infant.

"They were very sweet," she says. "And the baby was adorable."

She doesn't know where the family is today; they were from Aleppo, the site of intense fighting between government troops and rebels.

Porterfield, who's half-Lebanese, has written about the conflicts in her father's homeland and neighboring Syria and Israel. One poem, "We in the Middle," is included in her most recent poetry collection, Kibbe.

Her newest poem, "By Heart," is about that family she met in Beirut. Porterfield gave her first public reading of this poem Wednesday during Morning Edition on WNIJ:

War Deaths in Syria Said to Top 100,000

                                                                                                NYTimes, August 2013

I can’t remember their names, the young couple with a son, Syrians from Aleppo visiting friends. We were in Beirut, it was some years back. She shyly held up the baby in her arms, the father was shattered with love for them. That was in another time, it was another place. I remember she gave me the child to hold snug against my chest, the tug and scent of his small body frank as a loaf of warm bread. Of course, they may have more children now, I don’t know. They may still be in Aleppo now, I don’t know. It’s so far away, and it was years ago, a different world.

Credit CBS

Porterfield is a professor of English at Rockford University.

Good morning, Early Riser! Since 1997 I've been waking WNIJ listeners with the latest news, weather, and program information with the goal of seamlessly weaving this content into NPR's Morning Edition.