Versify Versify is part storytelling and part poetry. It begins by sending our team of poets out into neighborhoods and to community events, where we invite people to share a story from their life. The person they are sharing it to — the person listening — is one of our poets. This is where the magic comes in. The poet listens intently and then turns that life story into a poem, on the spot.
Versify

Versify

From WPLN News

Versify is part storytelling and part poetry. It begins by sending our team of poets out into neighborhoods and to community events, where we invite people to share a story from their life. The person they are sharing it to — the person listening — is one of our poets. This is where the magic comes in. The poet listens intently and then turns that life story into a poem, on the spot.

Most Recent Episodes

Freedom Summer: Violence Was In Me Then

For Dr. Freddrick Leonard, joining the Nashville Student Movement in the Fall of 1960 meant learning to suppress his instincts. As a high schooler in Chattanooga, he sat in at lunch counters with other students, and they defended themselves when they were attacked. And his shift to non-violent protest was especially difficult. But even after years of practicing pacifism, that impulse to fight back was buried, but it wasn't subdued. In this episode Dr. Leonard speaks with poet, hip-hop and spoken word artist Saran Thompson about the difficulty of conforming to the ideology of a movement, how he came to grapple with the limits of non-violence as an ideal, and how sometimes keeping focused on the work means accepting that other people will be the ones to reap the benefit. Then Saran takes the down and back again of Dr. Leonard's pacifist's journey, and turns it into poetry. Versify is a production of Nashville Public Radio and The Porch — Nashville's nonprofit literary center. Editing for this episode came from WPLN's Mack Linebaugh with additional editing by Anita Bugg. The episode was written, hosted, produced, and recorded by Joshua Moore. The music is by Blue Dot Session The show is distributed by P-R-X.

Freedom Summer: Pitfalls, Prison Terms, and Conquests

A Klan hit, an ambush, a sanctuary under siege, these are just a handful of the encounters that Civil Rights veteran, Dr. Allen Cason Jr., survived during his time in the Nashville Student Movement. In this episode Allen sits down with poet Lagnajita Mukhopadhyay to detail his firsthand account of the Montgomery riot that shifted the course of a movement, how his willingness to risk everything for the cause of integration cost Allen his educational ambitions, and multiple years of his life, and how sometimes the work of serving your community means concealing what you've sacrificed. Then Lagnajita takes the pitfalls, prison terms, and conquests of this Civil Rights hero's legacy, and turns them into poetry. Versify is a production of Nashville Public Radio and The Porch — Nashville's nonprofit literary center. Editing for this episode came from WPLN's Mack Linebaugh with additional editing by Anita Bugg. The episode was written, hosted, produced, and recorded by Joshua Moore. The music is by Blue Dot Session The show is distributed by P-R-X.

Freedom Summer: We Wanted Nashville To Hear Footsteps, part 2

After the carnage in Birmingham and the bus bombing in Anniston, Rip Patton and the Nashville students set out to continue the Freedom Rides. Hear how their journey finds them in the crosshairs of Bull Connor and the Alabama Klan, and ultimately in a Mississippi maximum security prison. Rip talks to poet Destiny Birdsong about how the legacy of that activism points the way for current protest, and then Destiny transforms Rip's spellbinding history in poetry. Versify is a production of Nashville Public Radio and The Porch — Nashville's nonprofit literary center. Editing for this episode came from WPLN's Mack Linebaugh with additional editing by Anita Bugg. The episode was written, hosted, and produced by Joshua Moore. Today's story and poem were recorded by Joshua Moore at Nashville Public Radio. The music is by Blue Dot Session. The show is distributed by P-R-X.

Freedom Summer: We Wanted Nashville To Hear Footsteps, part 1

In the early 1960's Rip Patton was on the frontlines of the civil rights movement. A foot soldier in a coordinated campaign to combat racial inequality on every front. And ultimately, induce the political opposition to revise the central edicts that governed the country. It was an effort backed by a broad coalition of American people, and fueled by the righteous indignation, and careful strategic practice of the youth. Rip sits down to talk with poet Destiny Birdsong about his role as a revisionist of American democracy. How Nashville became a test kitchen to formalize the methods of the civil rights movement, and how for Rip, the core tenet of that legacy, is ensuring that the work continues. Then Destiny takes Rips decades of resistance and turns them into poetry. Versify is a production of Nashville Public Radio and The Porch — Nashville's nonprofit literary center. Editing for this episode came from WPLN's Mack Linebaugh with additional editing by Anita Bugg. The episode was written, hosted, and produced by Joshua Moore. Today's story and poem were recorded by Joshua Moore at Nashville Public Radio. The music is by Jahzzar, and Blue Dot Session— found through the Free Music Archive. The show is distributed by P-R-X.

Freedom Summer: The Freedom Rides, A Letter, Then Silence

During the Nashville Student Movement, silence was used as a tool to illuminate the strength of a movement, but in the decades following the sit-ins, stand-ins, and Freedom Rides, silence was used as a method of obscuring it. Etta Marie Simpson Ray is a Freedom Rider and one of the pioneers of the Nashville Student Movement. Etta speaks with poet Kelley Bell about the experience of living in the echo of a movement when your contributions have all but been erased, finding the courage to risk personal gain for the collective good, and the critical importance of carrying the old days with us. Then Kelley shapes the circuit of Etta's Freedom Rider journey, into poetry. Versify is a production of Nashville Public Radio and The Porch — Nashville's nonprofit literary center. Editing for this episode came from WPLN's Mack Linebaugh with additional editing by Anita Bugg. The episode was written, hosted, produced, and recorded by Joshua Moore. The music is by Blue Dot Session The show is distributed by P-R-X.

Season 4 Trailer

In season 4 of Versify, we bring you the stories of a remarkable band of historical luminaries, connected by their courageous commitment to racial equality in the 1960s: the Nashville Freedom riders. We hear of their experiences, in their own words, and our poets turn their narratives into poetry.

Our Babies Have Always Been The War

It's not an exaggeration to say that Rhiannon Giddens is a narrative archeologist. A historical thaumaturge who conjures the often willfully forgotten chronicles of American history and renders them with a rosined bow. For Rhiannon that process of narrative excavation has led to some of her most spellbinding work. Rhiannon speaks with podcaster Colleen Phelps, of WPLN's Classically Speaking, about the process of disinterring narratives from the annals of American history, how her collaboration with the Nashville Ballet led her to composing out of poetry, and how motherhood has deepened her relationship to her subject matter while furthering her commitment to her art. Then poet Destiny Birdsong takes the major chords of Rhiannon's artistic journey and turns them into poetry. Versify is a production of Nashville Public Radio and The Porch — Nashville's nonprofit literary center. Editing for this episode came from WPLN's Mack Linebaugh with additional editing by Anita Bugg. The episode was written, hosted, and produced by Joshua Moore. Today's story was recorded by Carl Pederson at WPLN for Live in Studio C in January of 2019 and the poem was recorder by Joshua Moore at The Nashville Ballet. The music is by Rhiannon Giddens & Francesco Turrisi. The show is distributed by PRX

Imagine This Chutzpah

For Nashville Choreographer Diane Kimbrough, her route to a career as a professional dancer, was influenced by her family history. A descendant of Ukrainian Jews who fled during the Pogroms of the Russian Empire, for Diane, leaning on resilience in the face of scrutiny, is practically an inherited trait. Today Diane speaks with poet Patricia Alice Albrecht, about the precarity of breaking into the world of professional dance, how a family history of self-reliance helped propel her forward, and how her decades as a professional entertainer have given her the courage to face down intolerance and hatred. Then Patricia braids the parallels of Dianes ancestral and professional histories into poetry.

Beyond A Four-Walled Hustle

For artist, influencer and activist, Thaxton Waters, the roots of his artistic practice began with a suspicion of history. An unease about the stories around the community he was born into. And that sense of questioning spurred Thaxton toward a career of unearthing untold histories — through art. Thaxton speaks with Versify host Joshua Moore about the process of interrogating history through art. How the dual legacies of education and art making he inherited from his parents have shaped his practice, and how he persists in his commitment to storytelling, in the midst of a city that seems intent on leaving people like him behind. Then Joshua takes the narrative tiles of Thaxton's life and shapes them into poetry. Versify is a production of Nashville Public Radio and The Porch — Nashville's nonprofit literary center. Editing for this episode came from WPLN's Mack Linebaugh with additional editing by Anita Bugg. The episode was written, hosted and produced by Joshua Moore. Today's story and poem were recorded by Tasha Lemley at WPLN in March of 2018. * The music is by Blue Dot Session. The show is distributed by P-R-X. *

Little Boxes All The Same

Demetria Kalodimos is something of a Nashville institution, anchoring the Channel Four news desk since she first arrived in Music city in 1984. But thirty plus years into her career, Demetria was unprepared to have her decades of dedicated news coverage cut short. Demetria speaks with poet Lagnajita Mukhopadhaya about her enduring commitment to the power of journalistic storytelling, how she coped with closing the book on over three decades as a news reporter, and how revisiting family narratives is helping Demetria to write her next chapter. Then Lagnajita takes the weave of Demetria's personal and professional histories and turns them into poetry. *Versify is a production of Nashville Public Radio and The Porch — Nashville's nonprofit literary center. * Editing for this episode came from WPLN's Mack Linebaugh with additional editing by Anita Bugg. The episode was written, hosted, and produced by Joshua Moore. Today's story and poem were recorded by Tasha Lemley at WPLN in March of 2018. The music is by Blue Dot Sessions. *The show is distributed by P-R-X. *

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