Dan Klefstad

Morning Edition Host & Book Series Editor

Good morning, Early Riser! Since 1997 I've been waking WNIJ listeners with the latest news, weather and other information, with the goal of seamlessly weaving this content into NPR's Morning Edition.

What do I do after the show ends at 9:00? I read. I'm especially interested in literature from the WNIJ listening area, which led me to adopt the "Book Beat" in 2012. Throughout the year, I immerse myself in works written by authors from northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Then I interview these writers for Morning Edition and record them reading excerpts. Interviews and excerpts are available as podcasts in our Book Series archive.

If you're a writer from this area, or have a personal connection to this place, send your book to me at 801 N. 1st St., DeKalb, IL 60115. You can also email a .doc or .pdf to dklefstad@niu.edu. I'm looking for novels, poems, short fiction, memoirs and creative nonfiction. While most of the books I feature come from established presses, I do accept self-published works. Just make sure your manuscript is well edited.

Thanks,

@danklefstad

#WNIJReadWithME

Ways to Connect

If you lost someone dear to you, today's poetry contest winner will sound familiar. "The Daily News" is about the need to share an experience with a friend or lover, and suddenly remembering he or she is no longer there.

"The speaker has lost someone dear," says Susan Porterfield, a poet and Rockford University professor. "And always there is the thought, `I wonder what you'd think if you were here'," she says, adding that anyone who misses a loved one has this habit of thinking.

heatherhopefarm.com

Today's winning poem considers the dichotomy of innocence and experience. "Little Lamb" is, on the surface, about a lamb abandoned by its mother because she can't nurse more than two.

The innocence of the doomed lamb is juxtaposed with the experience of the mother who chooses to devote her energy to the stronger siblings who are more likely to survive.

So far, the winners of our Relationship Poems contest include a haiku about a troubled relationship, a Valentine to corned beef, and a sonnet comparing a young man's beloved to his favorite cheese.

Today's winner is about two lovers not at all bothered about being snowed in. Our contest judge, Susan Azar Porterfield, selected this poem because of the contrast it sets up with the outside world:

Sue Stephens

When you hold a poetry contest involving themes of love or attraction, expect lots of poems using food as a metaphor.

It's as if our attraction to a potential mate and our appetite for food occupy the same place in our brains.

Small wonder, then, that two of the six winners in our "Relationship Poems" contest involved food. Yesterday, we featured a poem about corned beef. Today's winner is called "A Cheesy Love Poem."

Some poems were meant to be read aloud. Today's poem, a Valentine to corned beef, was meant to be sung.

It was written by Doe Macarus of Williams Bay, Wisconsin, who sang it for us during a recording in our studios. Macarus wrote the poem in fourth grade after receiving a Valentine's Day card from a boy. Now 84, she submitted it for our "Relationship Poems" contest.

Her poem is one of six selected by our judge, Susan Porterfield, a poet and English professor at Rockford University.

Carl Nelson

Remember when we asked for your relationship-themed poems for Valentine's Day? We received 118 listener responses by the Jan. 29 deadline, which made for a busy weekend for our contest judge, Susan Porterfield.

Episcopalchurch.org

The Episcopal Church will remain part of the worldwide Anglican Communion -- for now. A recent gathering of the world's top Angilcan bishops, or primates, avoided a separation with the U.S. branch over their full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Carl Nelson

The first time we held a writing contest, called "Three-Minute Fiction," more than 100 people submitted stories. Our judge, GK Wuori, selected five winners -- all of whom got to read their stories to WNIJ listeners in October.

With Valentine's Day approaching, we decided to ask for poems about relationships. These could be sonnets about seduction, burlesques about breaking up, or haiku about healthy relationships.

In 2003, James McManus became the best-known storyteller about poker when he published Positively Fifth Street: Murderers, Cheetahs & Binion's World Series of Poker. The book recounts McManus's reporting assignment for Harper's Magazine, in which he covered the 2000 World Series of Poker from the perspective of a player.

This Spring, the Illinois Reads program will invite residents to read dozens of new books by Illinois authors. One title on their 2016 list is our Winter Book Series selection Paris, He Said, by Christine Sneed.

The novel introduces us to Jayne Marks, an aspiring artist who leaves her New York City life -- friends, steady job, and boyfriend Colin -- for Paris, home of her new lover, Laurent Moller.

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