An Aurora Deputy Poet Laureate Pens Poem Inspired By A Museum Visit - Poetically Yours

Oct 23, 2020

Welcome to WNIJ's Poetically Yours. Poetically Yours showcases poems by northern Illinois poets. Today's poem is by Aurora Deputy Poet Laureate, Quentin Johnson. 

Aurora Deputy Poet Laureate Quentin Johnson.
Credit Provided by 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.

Johnson graduated from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa with degrees in Scandinavian Studies and African and African American Studies. He also lived and studied in Norway receiving a certificate in Sociology, while also studying Norwegian history and literature, psychology and international intelligence agencies.

Johnson says he is a word nerd and loves language. He has studied French, Spanish, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish and Ancient Greek. His choral career included additional work in Latin, Italian and German. When working with non-native English speakers, Johnson breaks the ice by asking people to teach them words in their mother tongues, like Persian, Russian, Polish, Gujarati, Korean and Mandarin.

Johnson works as an Animal Control Officer for the City of Aurora. He’s held this position  for over 25 years. He is also a Deputy Poet Laureate for the City of Aurora. Johnson seeks to celebrate the cultural uniqueness of all people and their contributions to the great American melting pot. In his free time, he enjoys being with his wife and kids. You may also find him knitting on occasion.

Johnson visited Aurora's Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Museum one day. After that he went home to write about a soldier he found interesting. Here's his poem "Sergeant Elmore Day." 

A nation divided,
A young man is chided,         
For wanting to join the war.

At 17 years old,
His spirit was bold,
The young man named Elmore!

The drum he did play,
This young Sgt. Day,
Marching headlong into battle!

Where cannonballs fly,
The enemy draws nigh,
Muskets fire, and sabres rattle!                                 

Letters he penned,
To parents and friends,
Journaled the life of a soldier!

Until late ‘64,
Brought down by the war,
Poor Elmore would grow no older!

We thank you, young man,
For taking a stand,
To keep our country together!

Aurorans take note,
Of the words that you wrote,
Your memory lives on forever!
 

  • Yvonne Boose is a 2020 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.