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WNIJ is your source for news about literature in northern Illinois. This Autumn, we focused on shorter works that will better fit your schedule during the holiday season.You can read interview highlights below, as well as author readings and the broadcast versions of each interview. We also invite your comments, and the use of #WNIJReadWithMEHappy reading!

Prestigious Journal Includes Rockford U. Poet

Dan Klefstad

This week WNIJ is highlighting shorter literary works from northern Illinois authors. Today, we welcome back Susan Azar Porterfield, who has two new poems in the Barrow Street Journal. Poems appearing in this journal often have been selected for the Best American Poetry anthology, including works by former poet laureate Billy Collins.

"I'm absolutely thrilled to be `in the family,' as they say," says Porterfield. "Barrow Street is out of New York, and they're quite serious."

Aside from the prestige, there's an emotional payoff from convincing a journal editor to accept your work. "You have made a connection," Porterfield says, "with somebody who isn't your mother, who isn't your spouse or a friend. It's completely anonymous except for the poem."

That connection, she says, is the most satisfying part of the experience.

The selected poems include one about a teenaged friend who's questioning her sexuality. "For Cyd at Fifteen, Who Says She May Be Bisexual" re-examines adages and cliches, such as "a rolling stone gathers no moss."

The poem invites Cyd, and the reader, to create their own adages:

Cats won't eat citrus be your own barber shoes can't be hats three's a perfect number if it looks nice in the window it'll probably break your heart both moss and stone can roll along together just fine.

This poem, and another called "Feeder," appear in the December edition of the Barrow Street Journal.

Susan Porterfield introduces and reads "Feeder."

Porterfield has experience on both sides of the submission process. Herself an editor at Fifth Wednesday Journal, she knows that publishers want external proof of a poem's merits.

"Even if there's a poem that we really love, and the author hasn't published much, we'll probably take it," she says. "But you like to see what kind of credibility they have. So if they list that they've been published in Poetry Magazine or the Harvard Review, then you think, `Oh, we're right to think that this poem is something we should publish'."

Success begets success. That's one adage that's hard to disprove in the publishing industry. "You're unlikely to get published in a prestigious journal right away," Porterfield says. "It does happen, but mostly you have to make your way there."

Dr. Porterfield is a professor of English at Rockford University. She lives in DeKalb.

Our "Fall Book Bites" series wraps up Friday when Molly McNett reads from and discusses "La Pulchra Nota," which appears in this year's edition of Best American Short Stories. Listen during Morning Edition at 6:34 and 8:34. Then come back here for more content, including the author reading her work.

We welcome your comments below. And if you're talking about these authors on social media, please use #WNIJReadWithME

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.
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