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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Versify #23: It Took 27 Years & Then It Popped

Versify #23: It Took 27 Years & Then It Popped
Photo courtesy KC Steedle

Have you ever had the nightmare where you’re standing at the front of an audience, about to say something important, but when you open your mouth there’s nothing? Well imagine waking up in that nightmare and realizing that you couldn’t get out. That’s exactly what happened to KC Steedle, the night that a mysterious blackout nearly killed his dream of ever having a career in music. KC tells poet Ciona Rouse about the disquieting experience of confronting a medical anomaly. And a surprising change in plan that ultimately saved his career, and his life. Then Ciona takes his unsettling tale, and turns it into poetry.

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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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