In Verse is a collaboration between poets, photographers and radio producers to create a new model of storytelling in journalism.
For the pilot program, we sent poet Susan B. A. Somers-Willett, photographer Brenda Ann Kenneally and producer Lu Olkowski to document the lives of working mothers in Troy, New York. Labor historians have argued that Troy was the prototype for the industrialization of America and “the most important city during the Industrial Revolution.” Troy’s beginnings stand in stark contrast to its current social conditions. Now, one-fifth of the population live below the U.S. poverty line; most families in Troy survive on minimum wage jobs with little or no benefits.
This reporting is intended to document the nearly-invisible service tier of working-class America through the microcosm of Troy. It will result in a collection of documentary poems for radio, the web, print and iPhone.
Future installments of In Verse will feature Pulitzer Prize winning poet Natasha Trethewey and photographer Joshua Cogan as they cover the ongoing recovery of the Mississippi Gulf Coast after Katrina.
In Verse comes to you from Public Radio Makers Quest 2.0, an initiative of AIR, the Association of Independents in Radio, Incorporated. This project is made possible with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. In Verse is also generously supported by Virginia Quarterly Review. Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen is the broadcast partner for In Verse.