Versify #33: The Blade And The Blooming

For attorney and aspiring writer Adam Hill, his journey toward understanding the life of his younger brother, Eric, began by coping with Eric’s death, both in the present and 1,000 years before either of them was ever born. Adam tells his story to poet Kelley Bell about the process of chronicling his brother’s untimely passing, their family’s journey to lay him to rest, and how his death opened a door for Adam to more fully understand a faith practice that motivated his brother to travel across the globe in search of truth. Then Kelley takes the Hill family’s spiritual pilgrimage and turns it poetry.

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Versify #32: Do You Want To See More?

Tasha Lemley has spent much of her professional life championing the stories of people on the margins. She co-founded The Contributor, a Nashville nonprofit “street newspaper” that helps to empower people experiencing homelessness. But even with a career’s worth of exposure to the types of hardship that can come from living on a social periphery, there were still some harsh realities that Tasha was unprepared for. Today Tasha speaks with poet Sally Harvey Anderson about her visit to a Southern Nevada cat house and how a brush with the unglamorized fact of the American sex trade transformed her commitment to social advocacy. Then Sally takes that formative experience and turns it into poetry.

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Versify #31: Before Bukowski

There are about as many ways to fall in love with the craft of writing as there are books to be read. But whatever the means of introduction, that first literary gateway drug, it’s typically hard to forget. But for Nashville non-fiction writer Rob Simbeck, his route to an early love of literature, began with and American tragedy. Today Rob speaks with poet Ashley Trabue, about his experience, living through a decade that fractured the country, and how that turmoil pointed him towards a love of telling stories, a discovery that helped to keep Rob from unraveling in more ways than one. Then Ashley takes the broad scope of those experiences, and turns them into poetry.

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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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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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Versify #24: A Woman And A Dragon, Part One

Versify #24: A Woman And A Dragon, Part One
Illustration by Mack Linebaugh

Linda Ragsdale felt lucky to get the last seat on a trip to Mumbai, intending to deepen her practice of meditation. She found herself instead struggling for survival — in the middle of India’s most severe terrorist attack in decades. In part one of this two-part season finale, we hear how Linda’s world disintegrated into chaos – and began to find order once again. Warning: This episode contains descriptions of violence.


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