Arts and culture

Provided by Michael Lee Johnson.

Welcome to WNIJ's Poetically Yours. Poetically Yours showcases poems by northern Illinois poets. This segment features Michael Lee Johnson.

Poetically Yours LIVE

Jan 15, 2021
Spencer Tritt

Join us for an evening with a few of our favorite poetry pros from across northern Illinois. WNIJ’s Poetically Yours host Yvonne Boose will lead a discussion with Karen Fullett-Christensen, Christopher D. Sims and Rhonda Parsons on writing poetry during a pandemic and tips they have if you are looking to turn your ideas into stanzas. Plus, our poets will share examples of their work live! It’s Poetically Yours Live at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, January 27 on Facebook and

Sessions from Studio A - The Reggie Thomas Quartet

Jan 14, 2021

Jazz returns to Sessions from Studio A this week with The Reggie Thomas Quartet, featuring acclaimed pianist and current head of Jazz Studios at Northern Illinois University, Reggie Thomas, along with guitarist Bobby Broom, drummer George Fludas, and bassist Dennis Carroll. The quartet gives us a passionate performance in Studio A, and we'll also hear a conversation with band members about their jazz backgrounds and their thoughts on the social justice protests of the past year. 

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.

Sessions from Studio A - Cora Vasseur

Jan 7, 2021

Join us for original music from DeKalb singer-songwriter Cora Vasseur. Cora is a newer songwriter who has had a unique path to music. She started songwriting while in Second City's Comedy Writing program, and first began to sing while at her current job working with children with autism, when she discovered her voice helped calm the students.

Many musicians lost out on live performance gigs due to COVID-19 but one northern Illinois artist found ways to keep the music playing for herself -- and others.

Under pandemic restrictions, folk and jazz musician Robinlee Garber’s paid gigs turned into non-monetary internet shows. 

Susan Schubert

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

Sessions from Studio A - The Jimmys

Dec 24, 2020

Join us as we celebrate the holidays with The Jimmys on this week's edition of Sessions from Studio A. The Wisconsin blues band joined us for a live performance in Studio A with music from their latest record, Gotta Have It, as well as some Christmas tunes.

You can pick up a copy of that new album, and find more music from The Jimmys, on their website. Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Connie Kuntz

Welcome to this week's Poetically Yours. Poetically Yours showcases poems by northern Illinois poets. This week's episode features Christopher D. Sims. 

Sims is from the West Side of Rockford and first shared his poetic gifts onstage at Haskell Elementary School thanks to Dorothy Paige-Turner. 

Rooted in Black joy and celebration, his poems wind through the landscapes of this country's past and present. He hopes they will inform, engage and entertain. Sims, who originally wrote rap and hip-hop lyrics, said his poetry has a bebop cadence.

Here’s his poem "Kwanzaa."

An annual holiday concert will continue to bring Christmas cheer thanks to the help of one Rockford television station.

The Rockford Symphony Orchestra’s Holiday Pops concert will air on WREX-TV Christmas Day.  

Steven Larsen is the music director of the orchestra. He said although the concert is still taking place, a few things needed to change due to COVID-19. 

The year 2020 was, in so many ways, divided. In terms of live performances, musicians were forced to reinvent, reflect and respond from a distance and in turn I watched their concerts from the remove of my laptop screen.

Yvonne Boose

A Rockford art gallery’s new exhibition is in full motion this holiday season.

The Kortman Gallery's “Balance: the Art of the Mobile” exhibit features pieces by eight mixed-media artists. Doc Slafkosky, director of the gallery located in the J.R. Kortman Center for Design, said he met two out-of-state artists at a trade show in New York one year and he wanted them to do something at the gallery.

Latrice Murphy Design and Photography

Welcome to WNIJ's Poetically Yours. This week features Aurora's 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.

With the holidays upon us, we're sharing some of our favorite music for the season - and we're not afraid to own our quirky taste!

Sessions from Studio A - Ganser

Dec 17, 2020

Chicago art-punk band Ganser joins us on this week's edition of Sessions from Studio A. Hear a performance recorded in Studio A with music from the band's new album, Just Look At That Sky. We'll also talk with Ganser about putting that album together, playing at last year's Riot Fest, and about their experiences during the pandemic.

Two-hundred-fifty years ago, a musical maverick was born. Ludwig van Beethoven charted a powerful new course in music. His ideas may have been rooted in the work of European predecessors Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Josef Haydn, but the iconic German composer became who he was with the help of some familiar American values: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Welcome to this week’s Poetically Yours. Poetically Yours showcases poems from northern Illinois poets but this segment features Heather Cleveland from Oakland California.

Cleveland is a residential interior designer with over 22 years of experience. She studied at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, in San Francisco and is also a member of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), Northern California Chapter.


Join us for a special edition of Sessions from Studio A with Ralph Wesley Carr and Old Town Tribune. We caught up with this trio of bluegrass virtuosos for a live set at the former House Cafe in DeKalb, now known as the Northern Illinois Center for Arts and Music. 

This has been a booming year for composer John Luther Adams. His 2014 Pulitzer Prize-winning orchestral work Become Ocean has been re-released as part of a trilogy. Recordings of new string quartets have just come out. And he's just published a memoir, Silences So Deep: Music, Solitude, Alaska. The title was inspired by a line in "Listening in October," a poem from the late John Haines:

Most vending machines disperse snacks or maybe a cup of coffee but a northern Illinois performing arts center is taking it up a notch for its fundraiser.

The West Side Show Room in Rockford is introducing the Elf-O-Matic vending machine. Mike Werckle, the artistic director, said the original idea was to have people purchase online gifts and pick them up from the Christmas vending machine. 

Sessions from Studio A - Renee Nanzer

Dec 3, 2020

Chicago multi-instrumentalist and music teacher Renee Nanzer is our special guest this week. We'll hear a performance from her recorded live here in Studio A, and we'll also talk with Renee about her experience working with Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music. Renee is part of the school's outreach program, where she visits underserved neighborhoods in the city and brings her love of music to the youth living there. 

In the mid-1970s, more than 40 years before he won the Pulitzer Prize for music, pianist and composer Anthony Davis was driving with his wife to Boston for a concert when a police officer pulled them over .

WNIU Encore Participation Signup

Nov 20, 2020

  Encore features performance and commentary from regional classical musicians.  Eric Hradecky  is your host for these premier broadcasts on WNIU.

We are proud to present an encore presentation of Encore - due to COVID this season we are sharing some of the great performances we have previously captured and shared. We also look forward to bringing you recordings of recent socially-distanced performances.

Sessions from Studio A - Cathy Grier

Nov 19, 2020

Blues artist Cathy Grier joins us on this week's edition of Sessions from Studio A. Grier's musical adventure has taken her many places, from sneaking backstage to meet John Lee Hooker and Bonnie Raitt at age 17, to winning MTV's Basement Tapes competition, to co-writing a #1 dance hit in France. Thoughout her journey, Grier has never forgotten her blues and groove roots, and this year she makes a big statement with the new album "I'm All Burn".

Yvonne Boose

Some northern Illinois poets had to write outside the lines for a unique Woodstock art exhibition. 

“As It Happens” is an art show on display at Woodstock’s Old Courthouse Art Center. Various poets wrote pieces at different stages of visual artists’ works but the poems are much more than words on paper. 

Artist Carol Hamilton worked with the Woodstock poetry group Atrocious Poets to come up with the concept for the exhibit. She shared her observation.  

Yvonne Boose

Welcome to WNIJ's Poetically Yours. Poetically Yours showcases poems from northern Illinois poets. This week's poem is by Bear Wolf. 

Wolf is a Shawnee Gypsy Jew social justice humanist who lost count of his tattoos somewhere around 20. This world makes no sense to him, so he makes music and poetry.

Here's his poem "Wake Up Call, (Blue Horizons Are Just the Beginning.)"

Blue may have won 

But America is still lost 


The cost of living 

Is making a killing 

Rampant racism 

Races through our veins 

The stains of red 

Sessions from Studio A - Glitter

Nov 12, 2020

Rockford duo Glitter makes a big statement with their debut album "The Men We Could Have Been". After years of playing in rock and punk bands, guitarist/vocalist Ben Johnson and drummer Jordan Acosta were sick of the over-the-top egos and macho attitudes, so they wanted to go in a completely different direction.

A Rockford poet is showing fellow writers how to bring their words to life in a new poetry workshop series.

Christopher D. Sims said he’s done spoken word poetry for over 20 years. He’s now partnering with Rockford performing arts venue The West Side Show Room in a workshop series called Graffiti Flow: Write and Perform Spoken Word Poetry. He mentioned that a friend introduced him to the venue's artistic director Mike Werckle.

A northern Illinois arts center kept creativity flowing by challenging artists to ponder a basic technique  for a new art exhibition. 

Mike Glenn is the executive director of The Next Picture Show in Dixon. Glenn said he’s a writer so he likes to make the artists dig deeper when they create for exhibitions.  

Photo provided by Paige Monét Wright.

Welcome to WNIJ's Poetically Yours. Poetically Yours showcases northern Illinois poets. This week's poem is by Paige Monét Wright, a member of FourPoets, OneMic. 

Wright was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia but moved to Illinois at the age of 14. She and her older sister were raised mainly by their mother.

Wright is a sophomore at Northern Illinois University studying biological sciences. She said she wants to be a pediatrician so that she can help children stay healthy and safe.