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WNIJ broadcast one winning Mother's Day poem each day this week during Morning Edition. The poems were selected by our contest judge, Susan Porterfield, from 85 submissions received.The most recent poem -- the one at the top of the queue -- is Porterfield's "Honorable Mention."

Wind-Up Clock Poem Ticks All The Boxes For Contest Judge

When we launched our Mother's Day Poetry Contest, poet and judge Susan Porterfield suggested she might someday write a poem about her mother's ballet shoes.

"My mother was a ballerina when she was younger," Porterfield said. "Once she got older and had four kids, she no longer was a ballerina -- although she would use the kitchen counter as a bar and do ballet exercises."

Porterfield said a simple object can convey a lot of information and emotion to a reader. This might explain why Porterfield was attracted to "My Mother's Clock," one of 85 poems we received:

What I like about this poem is how it takes an object that the poet associates with the mother and then, through that object, tells us everything about their relationship. The object is, obviously, a clock that the mother would faithfully wind every day. Now, as the poet makes clear, the writer possesses the clock, letting us know that the mother is, no doubt, deceased. “Never before” the poem begins—so we know that this situation is new, unusual. The writer is now the keeper of the clock—generations pass responsibilities and traits and quirks and notions and dominance onto each other. Our parents’ generational force fades, and ours -- for a moment -- takes its place. But what remains is the “steady sound,” of that generation, just as the clock’s ticking is a steady sound, around us forever, reminding the poet of the mother and reminding all of us of the passage and even the tyranny of time.

This poem is one of five which Porterfield selected to be read on WNIJ during Morning Edition this week. The author is Barbara Gray of Oro Valley, Arizona, who requested that Porterfield read the poem for her. We include the text below this video:



Never before

Have I lived

In the same room

As my mother's clock.


It's easy to remember

Her faithfulness....

Lovingly winding it

  As I now do the same.         


But more remarkable than that

Is the steady sound it makes

Throughout my every day.


And I sense the beat of her heart

Surrounding me still--

Faithful and never ending

As only a mother's love can be.


Credit Barbara Gray
The wind-up clock Barbara Gray inherited from her mother.

Listen for our fourth winning poem Thursday during Morning Edition at 6:45 and 8:45. Then come back here for a video of the reading, plus Porterfield's remarks.

We encourage your comments below. And be sure to tag us on Facebook or Twitter @WNIJNews.

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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