Versify is a show where a person tells a story, and in a matter of minutes, that story becomes a poem.
In each episode we guide listeners through this journey. It can surprise or make you cry — and it proves that your life experiences are worthy of poetry.
Versify is a production of Nashville Public Radio, The Porch writers' collective and PRX, with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The podcast launches Aug. 25 — when we'll drop the first three episodes at once. Subscribe now so you won't miss a thing.
In our second season of Versify, we bring you moments of impact: those times when our storytellers’ lives were changed forever. Decisive moments, pivotal shifts, and even brushes with death. You’ll hear moving personal stories, and also how our writers turn what they hear into poetry.
Season 2 launches Feb. 8. Listen to the trailer:
In creating Versify, we’ve realized the power of listening to people’s stories and sharing them as poetry. To close out our first season, we’re gonna take you through some of the first poems and conversations that inspired us to make this show. And you’ll journey with us as we explore what it truly means — for our participants and our poets — to feel heard.
For Nashville Councilwoman Nancy VanReece, her passion for public service began with an act of intimidation. It was 1968 — and she was 4 — when someone threw a rock through the window of her family home. It was the day after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and her father, a dentist, had lowered the flag on their porch to half-staff.
For Eloise Briscoe, raising two daughters hasn’t been about splashy gestures, but more “the simple things” — an approach gleaned from the long line of women in her family. As the unofficial family historian, Eloise is a diligent keeper of memories, and today she challenges poet J. Joseph Kane to honor all of these women — Emma, Nana, Margaret, Eloise, Shannon, and Maura — with a poetic gift that she intends to share with her aging 92-year-old mother.
More than most people, Ben Groner feels pretty lucky to be alive — and that’s because his life is the result of some pretty remarkable choices. In this episode, Ben tells poet Megan Smith about his parents’ unlikely love story, how he and his twin brother came to be, and about a secret that could have kept the two of them from ever coming into existence.
Ask anyone about their neighbors and they’ll likely have a strong opinion to share. This week, Versify’s team of poets sit down with strangers to hear stories about neighbors and neighborhoods. They discover unusual recollections and moments of camaraderie — and then turn those memories into original poems.
Ambushed by a menacing dog, Nashville physics teacher (and standup comedian) Bob Clark taps into some unconventional wisdom in his attempt to flee. Bob slyly reveals his story to poet Destiny Birdsong. She’s caught off guard, but weaves the compelling tale into an original poem about physics, relationships, and survival.
For much of her life, Ali Russell has been uncertain about religion. Even as a little girl, she’d ask her parents, “How do we know we’re worshiping the right God?” She even had a Jesus dream that still lingers with her today. In this episode, Ali shares her story to her longtime friend and Nashville poet Dana Malone, who takes Ali’s religious odyssey and transforms it into poetry.
Serg Rodriguez hasn’t seen his family in years. He was excommunicated by their church and grew apart from his parents and siblings. But now as a writer in Nashville, his little sister is never far from his mind. Without warning, she troubles his thoughts and finds here way into everything he puts on paper. In this episode, we find out how family rejection has actually helped Serg to better understand unconditional love. And then Nashville poet Ciona Rouse turns Serg’s story into an original poem.
Credits: Editing and production by Tony Gonzalez, hosting and editing by Joshua Moore.
Additional editing assistance: Emily Siner, Blake Farmer, Anita Bugg, Susannah Felts, Katie McDougall, & J. Joseph Kane.
The show is mastered by Carl Pedersen.
The music is by The Ampersand Posture, with additional tracks by Coolzey, and DarkSunn.
Versify is a production of Nashville Public Radio and PRX. Stories and poems are gathered with the help of The Porch, Nashville’s nonprofit literary center.