Generally when somebody says to the editor of a radio program "I’m going to get a grant to do long-form multimedia reporting with a poet writing about the working poor," the editor gets a look on his face. Poetry and poverty -- not the most popular subjects in the rundown. But when that somebody is very persuasive, and also one of the most talented and tenacious producers in public radio, the editor swallows the small thing in his throat and says sheepishly "Great. When’s our first edit?"
Now I’m not feeling so sheepish about "In Verse," the collaborative project put together by our regular contributor Lu Olkowski and Ted Genoways, the editor of Virginia Quarterly Review. “In Verse” combines intimate, startling photography, from-the-gut poems, and documentary tape -- you’ve never heard/seen anything quite like it. The first installment is live: “Women of Troy,” a set of three stories about Bille Jean and DJ, single mothers in the hard-luck town of Troy, New York. They’re brash, snarky, tired, pissed off, raunchy, desperate. Check out their stories. If you’re impressed, read how the sausage is made on Jay Allison’s radio insider site Transom.org. And shout thanks to the folks at the Association of Independents in Radio, for going out on a limb to support creative work in sound.
(If you can't see the video, watch it here.)
You can read more of Susan B.A. Somers-Willett’s Troy poems at VQR; and see plenty more of Brenda Ann Keanneally’s photographs. Let me know what you think.