Versify #30: A Kiss For Every Frog

Perhaps you’ve had the experience of standing on some nondescript street corner, minding your own business, when a stranger comes along and tries to chat you up. Maybe you found yourself thinking, “I hope this person’s not a murderer” — a fear which typically seems dramatic. But when Rachel Gladstone had a similar type of run-in with her neighborhood exterminator, she was shocked to find just how plausible that concern actually was. Rachel Speaks with poet Alicia Marie Brandewie about a series of unsettling encounters with the pest control man up the street. Then Alicia takes Rachel’s surprising narrative and turns it into poetry.


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Versify #29: All Power To All The People

When Ritagay Sisk-Jamison first joined the Philadelphia chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1969, she was under scrutiny not only from some of its members but also the federal government. Ritagay and her daughter Tandekile Francis sit down to speak with poet Courtney Sinclaire Brown, about their family’s multi-generational commitment to public service. And how Ritagay’s lifelong association with the Black Panther Party has cemented their belief in offering public aid by any means necessary. And then Courtney takes their activist’s legacy and turns it into poetry.


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Versify #28: A Penny Sewn Into Every Scrap

Versify #28: A Penny Sewn Into Every Scrap
photo courtesy Andee Rudloff

For Nashville muralist Andee Rudloff, the process of making a public artwork is about a lot more than adding a little color to urban landscapes. Andee sits down with poet J Joseph Kane, to talk about how an early exposure to her grandmother’s love of narrative and improvisational art spurred her towards a career crafting murals out of community stories. And then Joe takes the arc of Andee’s artistic journey and turns it into poetry. (more…)

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Versify #26: Person, Animal Thing

When we talk about the casualties of war, often the emphasis gets placed on the visible losses, but for the people like Rani Banjarian, a Lebanese international student turned East Nashville Maths teacher, who actually endure those conflicts,  the intangible changes, are often just as costly. Today Rani speaks with his form college professor, poet Destiny Birdsong, about his experience living under the shadow of war, and how what he learned from that ordeal, transformed is relationship to his country, and led him to pursue an education overseas. A decision that’s caused Rani to be torn between his family and his ambitions. And then Destiny takes his complex history, and turns it into poetry.

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Neighbors: The Hero’s Journey

Neighbors: The Hero’s Journey
photo credit: Eric England

The town of Harrenheim is mysteriously out of water, yet its reservoir is full. The Heroes’ Guild summons four of its bravest to investigate. These particular heroes are middle-schoolers, playing a tabletop roll-playing game at a Nashville community center. The game master is Josh Unruh. He’s also a barista and leather worker. A couple years ago, Josh was sinking into despair over our polarizing political climate. Rather than give into the hostility, he decided he would “follow his bliss.” As a lifelong enthusiast of role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, Josh decided to share the benefits of those games with kids and founded an after-school program to teach them a new game he and his friend Keith created for that purpose: The Heroes’ Guild RPG. It incentivizes peacemaking and cooperation over fighting, and you get a front-row seat at how four kids embody the game. (more…)

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Neighbors: Back Home On Short Mountain

This is a story about a way of life put on trial. Jeffory Young was a beloved farmer and major landowner in scenic Short Mountain, Tennessee, a place about 90 minutes southeast of Nashville that’s long been a magnet for interesting people.

But when police charged Young in a major marijuana distribution operation in 2006, they were able to seize much of his coveted property and send him to prison for more than a decade.

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Versify #25: A Woman And A Dragon, Part Two

After surviving the Mumbai terror attacks. Linda Ragsdale made good on her promise to honor her friend Naomi’s last wish — teach her how to draw a dragon — by starting a non-profit to travel the world and teach children around the globe about peace. But five years into fulfilling that promise, Linda was faced with yet another threat to her life. Linda tells poet Amelia Edelman about her journey toward recovery, her mission to teach peace through her nonprofit “The Peace Dragon,” and how an unexpected cancer diagnosis threatened to unravel her beliefs. Then Amelia takes Linda’s decade of harrowing ordeals and transform them into poetry.

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