Yvonne Boose

Arts and Culture Reporter

Yvonne covers artistic, cultural, and spiritual expressions in the COVID-19 era. This could include how members of community cultural groups are finding creative and innovative ways to enrich their personal lives through these expressions individually and within the context of their larger communities. Boose is a recent graduate of the Illinois Media School and returns to journalism after a career in the corporate world.


An annual DeKalb event that showcases local organizations will now mix business with pleasure.  

Virginia Filicetti is the marketing and events manager at the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce. She said past expos organized by the Chamber have allowed the community to connect with local businesses, but this year something else is tacked on.  


Many parents haven’t been able to watch their high school musical students perform live because of COVID-19 safety precautions. But one northern Illinois high school is making this possible thanks to the generosity of a local church.  

The DeKalb High School musical department continued performances throughout the pandemic, but some things could only be done virtually.


A northern Illinois museum is accepting artists' applications for its annual fundraising fair. 

The pandemic forced last year’s Greenwich Village Art Fair into cyberspace.

Carrie Johnson is the executive director and curator of the Rockford Art Museum.  She said the 2021 in-person event will be reduced to one day because of pandemic-induced staff changes at the institution.  

Picture provided by FourPoets OneMic

Welcome to Poetically Yours. Poetically Yours showcases poems by northern Illinois poets. This week’s segment features Aliya Bailey from the poetry group FourPoets, OneMic.


While most performance groups refrained from gathering due to the pandemic, one northern Illinois orchestra let the music play within the walls -- with precautions.  

The Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra continued their 2020-21 rehearsals without any interruption. 

Matthew Sheppard is the artistic director of the orchestra. He said in-person meetings were able to continue because the group incorporated scientific research.  

David Artbook Johnson

Welcome to Poetically Yours. Poetically Yours showcases poems by northern Illinois poets but today WNIJ is closing out National Poetry month with work by Wisconsin poet Charles Payne.

Payne was born in Michigan. He currently resides in Madison, Wisconsin. As a child, he loved hearing the sound of Paul Harvey’s voice. Payne said Harvey’s innate ability to describe every intricate detail truly inspired him.

Payne’s works explore personal narrative and social commentary from his experience as a working poor Black male dying to live and living to die. 

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

We’ve heard about a place having a particular sound – like the London Beat or the Motown Sound. But what about Illinois? A new exhibit that focuses on the Illinois sound – or really, sounds -- is coming to a downstate attraction.  

Lance Tawzer is the director of exhibits and shows at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. He said “The State of Sound: A World of Music from Illinois” covers a wide variety of genres. 


April is Autism Acceptance Month. WNIJ talked to a Rockford couple who said music helped their son after his diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.  

Some children show signs of being on the spectrum as early as 12 months old,  according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Alan and Charlotte Abanes say their son David was about 15 months old when they noticed a decline in his speaking.  

Yvonne Boose

A biannual gallery walk that was put on pause in 2020 due to the pandemic returned to Rockford this past Friday and Saturday.  

Spectators traveled from one venue to another during this year’s Spring ArtScene. The event allowed participants to view and purchase artists’ works. 

Gerrie Gustafson was hanging out at J.R. Kortman Center for Design on Saturday but she said this wasn’t her first stop. She started out by visiting the home of Nancie King Mertz


Some poets continuously look outside of themselves to enhance their writings. A few northern Illinois poetry groups are feeding this desire by offering workshops.   

Christina Lundberg is a writing instructor, an essayist, and a poet. She said she was looking for a poetry group to join after being a part of a writing group in Naperville. 

Yvonne Boose

A recording session for a series of virtual concerts brought a northern Illinois symphony back to its home venue Friday, for the first time in over a year. 

The last time the Rockford Symphony Orchestra played at the Coronado Performing Arts Center was March of 2020. This break in the schedule was due to the pandemic.

Julie Thomas, the executive director of the symphony, said the musicians were excited to perform together again.  

Susan Schubert

Welcome to Poetically Yours. This segment showcases poems by northern Illinois poets. This week's poem is written by Susan Schubert. 

Schubert is a member of A-Town Poetics in Aurora. She is a published author with two memoirs available on Amazon. They are “The Way I Remember It: A Memoir of a Trip to Europe 1971” and “My Place of Dreams: A Love Story.”

Schubert has won accolades for her short stories and photographs.


The newest Illinois poet laureate shared her early years and upcoming goals for the position on Thursday in a virtual conversation. 

Angela Jackson interlaced poetry and dialogue during the “Understanding Our New World” live stream discussion with Paul Simon Public Policy Institute director John Shaw.

She talked about her early years in Illinois as well as the Chicago native who inspired her.   


A Rockford coffee shop continues to engage the community through monthly conversations.

Katie’s Cup facilitated these discussions even before the pandemic, but once COVID-19 surfaced, the shop started having them virtually.

Michael Thomas is the pastor of Zion Lutheran Church. He said these monthly conversations help the faith community stay intentional when dealing with the public. 


Most people don’t think about taking care of themselves on Earth Day, but two northern Illinois farm executives say we are extensions of our home and taking care of our health can in turn save the environment.  

This once-a-year celebration is a time when many people reflect on taking care of the earth. 

Provided by Quentin Johnson.

Welcome to WNIJ's Poetically Yours. Poetically Yours showcases poems written by northern Illinois poets. This week features 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.


The artist community experienced a major beating from the pandemic, according to an Americans for the Arts report. Some creatives are getting relief with the help of a national organization.

Todd Hansen, the executive director of Artist Rescue Trust (A.R.T.), said a bunch of his friends came up with a plan to create a nonprofit that would help artists and musicians.  


A northern Illinois nature center is fusing the celebration of Earth Day and National Poetry Month.  

“To Create is in Our Nature” is the latest workshop being offered by Rockford’s Severson Dells Nature Center.  


April is a month of recognition for several important issues. Sexual Assault Awareness is one of them. An Illinois organization is bringing this offense to the forefront.  

The Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault runs rape crisis centers throughout the state. 

Carrie Ward, the executive director of the coalition, said there are number of programs taking place this month.   

Yvonne Boose

More than a dozen northern Illinois residents voiced their concerns at a redistricting public hearing Friday  in Aurora.

Redistricting hearings are taking place across the state. State representatives Barbara Hernandez, D-Aurora, and Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego, hosted the meeting.

Fermina Ponce.

Welcome to this week's Poetically Yours. Poetically Yours showcases poems by northern Illinois poets. This week features one of Aurora's deputy poet laureates, Fermina Ponce. 

Sophia Varcados.

For some, music can be a great companion through good and bad times. On Sunday, a northern Illinois music therapist gives insight on how these tunes can also be used for healing.  

Jen Conley is a board-certified music therapist and a licensed professional counselor. She said music is gratifying but some people don’t recognize its deeper power. 

Poetry Out Loud

A Chicago student won the Illinois state championship for a national poetry competition.  

Catherine Herrera is a senior at William Howard Taft High School. The 17-year-old first took part in the Poetry Out Loud contest a few years ago. She said she originally entered the contest because she loves performance theater. 

Provided by Jan Bristol.

Welcome to WNIJ's Poetically Yours. Poetically Yours showcases poems by northern Illinois poets. Today's segment features poems by Jan Bristol. 

Bristol is a native of Carroll County, Illinois who says she has Mississippi River in her blood. She spent many years in Colorado, but came back home, to what she describes as "along the river and palisades."  Bristol retired from the aerospace industry and is also a member of the writers' group E-town Scribes.

Here are two of Bristol's untitled short poems.

Untitled 1

I remember when

Election Day for DeKalb is coming up on April 6. Recently the two mayoral candidates took time to share their personal journeys with the community.   

The “Getting to Know You” conversations took place at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church and were streamed on Facebook Live for both Alderman Carolyn Morris and local businessman Cohen Barnes.  

First United Methodist Church of DeKalb

A northern Illinois church is bringing back its free monthly Sunday dinners after they were interrupted by the pandemic.  

Vicki Boone is a volunteer at First United Methodist Church of DeKalb. She said the "R.E.A.L meal sharing food and friendship" program is bigger than a handout.  

“It stands for -- I think what we hope all churches would be at their best -- relevant, engaging, authentic and loving,” she explained.

Boone emphasized that this is at the heart of what the establishment does.  

Looking For Lincoln

An international performer took an audience on a musical journey highlighting the plight of runaway slaves during a conversation series Wednesday evening.

Reggie Harris is not only an entertainer; he’s also a lecturer and cultural ambassador. During his Looking For Lincoln performance, he said slaves used singing not only as secret coding but also as inspiration. 

Latrice Murphy Design & Photography.

Welcome to WNIJ's Poetically Yours. This segment showcases poems written by northern Illinois poets. This week features Aurora Poet Laureate Karen Fullett-Christensen.

Fullett-Christensen has been writing poetry and memory stories since high school, and credits two of her English teachers, Mr. Vespo and Mr. Brown, for their encouragement and support. She has self-published over 20 manuscripts. Her poems and creative non-fiction have appeared in a variety of print and online publications, and are available at no cost to anyone who requests copies.


A Rockford art initiative that started in 2019 reemerged this year and is expanding to other cities.

Martesha Brown, the director of advancement at the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the public mural program, CRE8IV:transformational Art, was a success two years ago. 

Tricia Alexander

After tackling her own demons, a northern Illinois musician transitioned to helping others heal through her music and more.    

Tricia Alexander calls herself three things: a musician, a minister, and a mentor -- but music is the core of who she is. She said she started singing before she could put sentences together.