Rolling Meadows native Faisal Mohyuddin -- the recipient of a leading United Kingdom poetry book prize -- says he'll "for the rest of my life be grateful" to his former English teachers at William Fremd High School who encouraged a love of writing in him.
"Just keep a notebook and whenever you have a thought, jot it down," Mohyuddin recalls being taught.
'Migration Narrative' by Faisal MohyuddinWhat wilts becomes
the world for the weary.
They can't help but
wonder at the lovely
shadow touch of another
war's rubbled song.
If crossing freely into fire
can churn the blood's
hollow music, then
surely the orphan can
ask at dusk for water
and get more than spit.
• First published in Prairie Schooner, Spring 2017
Mohyuddin, now 39 and an English teacher himself at Highland Park High School, has been writing for more than two decades but says he was still blown away by the news that he'd won the 2017 Sexton Prize for his debut collection, "The Displaced Children of Displaced Children."
It's a work that's intimately personal for Mohyuddin, whose parents emigrated from Pakistan.
"I looked at what my parents, my relatives lived through," he says. "As a descendant of these people, it's part of my identity. I looked at how that gives me guidance, strength and a sense of confusion."
The book, he says, centers around "knowing you may never find a place" -- a mindset he says was experienced by his late father, Mohammad. "I'm not sure my dad ever found a moment of (peace) in his life, except for his children," he said.
I didn't know this until we connected for the interview, but Mohyuddin spent a year at the Daily Herald 17 years ago. As it turns out, he had the same editor I did as a cub reporter, though years apart.
Congratulations to Mohyuddin.
Miles Mrowiec, a 19-year-old college student from Gurnee, might be getting the $750 he says he's due from the Illinois GOP.
I heard of the saga last week, after Mrowiec enlisted attorney Neil Geitner of Gurnee in his attempt to claim the money he says he was promised for working on the campaign of Gurnee Republican candidate Mike Amrozowicz.
Geitner said Mrowiec was hired for a month to turn out young voters for Amrozowicz, who was defeated by Democratic state Sen. Melinda Bush of Grayslake last November.
Amrozowicz said it was the Illinois Republican Party that hired Mrowiec to do outreach on a number of campaigns. State party officials told me on Sunday they plan to pay Mrowiec the $750 and "make him whole."
Easier breast-feeding at school
Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed a law aimed at making breast-feeding easier for student moms, teachers and staffers on public school campuses.
The law, which goes into effect in January, requires public schools to provide a room with an electrical outlet for nursing mothers, other than a bathroom. Schools, furthermore, are prohibited from penalizing students from missing classes because they're nursing or expressing milk. At Elgin Area School District U-46, spokeswoman Mary Fergus tells me administrators are drafting a policy for the board to review later this year.
Robotic dogs and cats in Lombard are bringing joy to people with dementia, according to officials at Beacon Hill senior living community. The furry friends look, act and feel like real pets and help with social and communication skills.
"We gave one of the robotic dogs to a woman here in the health center who has dementia and really never spoke much," health care administrator Jim Standish said. "The robodog changed everything. She named it after a pet she'd had earlier in life and began talking and expressing herself. It was like a small miracle."
Officials at LifeSpace Communities, which owns and operates Beacon Hill, say they plan to purchase even more "robopups" and "robokittens" in the months to come.
Potluck for Peace draws 200
The Rev. Father Corey Brost tells me more than 200 Sikhs, Muslims, Jews and Christians dined together at the interfaith Children of Abraham Coalition's sixth 9/11 Potluck for Peace last Wednesday at Saint Viator High School in Arlington Heights.