Poetically Yours - Ep. 37 - It's Time To Go

Apr 16, 2021

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

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 him 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.

Today Johnson is reminiscing about highways and byways in his poem "Open Road."

Give me a car, 

With a full tank of gas. 

The sun on my face, 

And emerald grass. 

America awaits! 

Vast growing fields, 

With soybeans and corn. 

Hawks and eagles, 

Upon thermals are born! 

America awaits! 

At truck stops and diners, 

Home cooking, and pies bake. 

I like rolling hills, 

Roads curved, and long lakes! 

America awaits! 

So climb on in, 

We can talk or stay silent. 

Our country is vast, 

Indeed it is giant! 

The open road calls, 

And my longing heart races, 

America Awaits, 

Enjoy her good graces! 

  • Yvonne Boose is a current 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.