Susan Azar Porterfield

Every Mother's Day, millions of Americans take Mom to brunch. Kids try to repay a year of home-cooked meals with breakfast in bed. And those remembering a departed mom place flowers at the cemetery or raise a glass to her portrait.

This year, WNIJ listeners can write a poem and maybe read it on the air. We launched our first-ever Mother's Day Poetry Contest this morning.

The next four years will be very good for poetry.

That's according to Susan Azar Porterfield, who says our nation's current political divisions echo previous tempests, which sprouted an abundance of biting verse.

In 2003, Robert Bly, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and more than 8,000 other poets submitted their work to a global movement opposing the Iraq invasion. The book Poets Against the War collected 262 of those poems.

Pick up WNIJ's book bag and turn it over. What falls out?

Two novels, one book of poems, and a story collection -- all by northern Illinois writers.

Each will share her insights into the craft of storytelling during interviews that air during Morning Edition on 89.5 FM and

WNIJ invites you to read the following selections before the series airs Feb. 20 - 23.

Even Poets Question Themselves

Apr 15, 2015
Carl Nelson

Am I a fraud?

It’s the question most every poet asks … a “look in the mirror under florescent lights” kind of thing, a scrutiny fueled by fear and courage.

If you’re a poet, and you haven’t pondered your own authenticity, don’t get cocky. You will. Self-interrogation is part of the art. But there’s hope.

When you’re under that blinding bulb, tied to a chair and sweating, remember why you wrote that first magical poem. The real one.

Susan Azar Porterfield

Apr 14, 2015
Carl Nelson

Susan Azar Porterfield is the author of the poetry collection Kibbe.

Recently two of her poems were accepted for publication in the prestigious Barrow Street literary journal. 

A Professor Emerita of English at Rockford University, she also edited Zen, Poetry, the Art of Lucien Stryk collecting works of the former Northern Illinois University faculty member, Fulbright lecturer, poet and translator.

Dan Klefstad

Poet Susan Azar Porterfield remembers meeting a Syrian family in Beirut. She was visiting Lebanon during a period of peace, in 2003.

The Syrians were brand new parents and allowed Porterfield to hold their infant.

"They were very sweet," she says. "And the baby was adorable."

She doesn't know where the family is today; they were from Aleppo, the site of intense fighting between government troops and rebels.