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Poet Misses Sharing The Daily News With Departed

If you lost someone dear to you, today's poetry contest winner will sound familiar. "The Daily News" is about the need to share an experience with a friend or lover, and suddenly remembering he or she is no longer there.

"The speaker has lost someone dear," says Susan Porterfield, a poet and Rockford University professor. "And always there is the thought, `I wonder what you'd think if you were here'," she says, adding that anyone who misses a loved one has this habit of thinking.

"And that keeps you, even if ever so minutely, in the past," she says, "despite the onslaught of time and the news of the day."

Porterfield picked "The Daily News" and five other poems to be read on WNIJ before Valentine's Day.

Susan Porterfield introduces "The Daily News."

Porterfield says the type of poem, a pantoum, is especially suited to remembrance because of its repetition. The poem is a series of quatrains with repeating lines from one stanza to the next. "The effect is a bit like a chant or incantation," says Porterfield. "It gives the reader the sense that the speaker is consumed by some idea, or emotion, that he or she just can't shake."

Porterfield says this repetition allows the writer to manipulate time as experienced by the reader. "The pantoum allows the speaker, and the reader, to take some steps forward, but then also some steps back," she says. "It, and we, move back and forth in time."

The poem was written by Marydale Stewart of Spring Valley in Bureau County. She was unable to visit our DeKalb studios to record her poem, so we asked Porterfield to read it for us:

Susan Porterfield reads "The Daily News" by Marydale Stewart.

The Daily News A Pantoum Today it will be cloudy, with a thunderstorm or two. A war may end; leaders have agreed to meet. Global warming evidence is presented for review. A homer gets the Cubs a second winning streak. Many wars could end if leaders would agree to meet. I wonder what you’d think if you were here about the Cubs or anybody’s winning streak, about the wars, elections, or if the weather will be clear. I wonder what you’d think if you were here— but the world has changed since we were first together. There’s more war, new elections, a new variety of fear. We thought we’d be the way we were forever. But we’ll never be the way we were when we were first together; our daily news is archived now. We thought we’d be the way we were forever while the hills turn green in spring and the fates allow. Our daily news is archived now. Sea levels rise, cities drown in hurricanes. Though the hills are greening now, the fates did not allow that we should ever meet again. Sea levels rise, cities drown in hurricanes; Global warming evidence is presented for review. I dreamed that we had met on a green and windy hill again and it was cloudy with a thunderstorm or two.

Marydale Stewart published another poem, "Record Heat Wave: Small Town in Illinois," in the journal Midwestern Gothic. Susan Porterfield recently won the Editor's Prize at Cider Press Review. Her book, Dirt, Root, Silk comes out next Summer.

Credit Carl Nelson
Susan Porterfield, poet and Rockford U. professor

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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