Versify #22: Before I Could Give Her The Ring

Photo credit: Mike Voltz
A craving for novelty and excitement is a hallmark of early adulthood. But for Jakob Lewis, host of WPLN’s podcast Neighbors, a summertime quest for new experiences nearly cost him his life. Today, Jakob tells the story of how a thirst for adventure landed him on the front lines of a California wildfire at the age of 20. He shares his experience to poet Lagnajita Mukhopadhyay, who takes his fiery tale and turns it into poetry.


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Versify #21: Saturn Returns By I-40 West

Photo courtesy Brad Wear
After leaving suburban Tennessee for a career in Hollywood when he was just 18, Brad Wear became, in a lot of ways, the picture of LA success. But twenty years later, Brad was struck with a feeling of absence, of being fully out of touch — with himself and his family, from whom he’d been estranged. Brad tells the story about his journey to reconnect and the cost of finding home again to poet Chance Chambers, who takes what he hears and composes an original poem.

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Versify #20: Mercy At The Ryman

Photo credit: Hunter Armistead
For singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier, coming to country music in her 40s was one of many things that made her feel like an industry outsider. Today, Mary speaks with poet Destiny Birdsong about her unconventional entry into the music business, and how an unforgettable performance at the Ryman redefined Mary’s relationship to her music — and to herself. Destiny takes the high notes of their conversation and composes an original poem.


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Versify #19: Thank God For That Judge

Photo courtesy Helen German
Being in love often requires making sacrifices, but for Helen German, the sacrifice was a big one: Finding romance meant losing the approval of her family. Today, Helen relates the details of her life story, from surviving the air raids of World War II to sustaining a 65 year marriage, while managing to hold on to her beliefs. Helen shares her story to poet Bryan Byrdlong, who turns her lifetime of perseverance into poetry.

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Versify #18: Never Forget Your Name, Lyzette

Photo courtesy Lyzette Garza
For Lyzette Garza, learning to embrace her Mexican American heritage has been a lifelong journey. Lyzette speaks with poet Kelley Bell about her formative childhood moments: hearing stories from her dad under the stars, encountering prejudice on a family trip to Colorado, and how those experiences — along with her father’s enduring love of boots — have helped shape Lyzette’s perspective on her culture. And Kelley takes Lyzette’s account and turns it into poetry.

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Versify #17: Ending The Game With Sunset

Photo courtesy Paresh Sheth
For most people, living with your parents past your early 20s isn’t something to make a point of bringing up in public. But Paresh Sheth says that living with his mom and dad in a three generation household has deepened his understanding of commitment — especially now that his mother is in the hospital. Paresh shares his story of witnessing the evolution of his parent’s relationship to poet Alicia Marie Brandewie, who takes their struggle, love and change and turns it into poetry.

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Versify #16: Acknowledgement Of Paternity For A Child Born To An Unmarried Woman


Amelia and Mark share the story of their intense uncertainty about having their first child, Silas — but the surprising joy of his first year. As 30-something New Yorkers transplanted to Nashville, they’re more ironic than emotive in telling this tale, but their words resonate with poet Susannah Felts, who weaves a detail-laden poem to crystallize the family’s first year.

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Versify #15: How They Met

Photo courtesy Marcia Barker
When our poets ask people to share an important story from their lives, they often like to tell us about how they met their partners. And though she admits it’s a bit cliché…Marcia Barker shares the story of an unlikely first encounter with a handsome stranger named Brent, and a resulting romance full of jetsetting, serendipity and suspicion.

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Versify #14: Insider’s Guide To Prayer

Photo courtesy of Mark Lemley
When Mark Lemley was 17, he lived through a near-death experience that fundamentally altered his outlook on life: a car accident that has haunted him for 24 years, and he wasn’t even the one in the car. In this episode hear the story of Mark’s relationship with his childhood best friend Ryan — and how Ryan’s brush with death forced Mark to reevaluate his beliefs. Mark tells his story to poet Megan Leanne, who takes his complicated history and turns it into poetry.

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