Today is the day: Nashville Public Radio's newest podcast is live, and the first three episodes of Versify are waiting for your ears with more to come.
Scroll down the page, and you can listen right now.
The idea for the show is fairly straightforward and yet yields something profound. Strangers tell their story to a poet who turns it into verse, on the spot. Nashville's literary nonprofit The Porch launched this project in 2015. And Versify now harvests the best stories-turned-poems and elevates them into a beautifully crafted podcast. The results can bring tears on both sides of the microphone.
With a little editing help and some personal reflections from host Joshua Moore, the episodes force introspection on complicated and universal themes — overcoming a disability, falling from the faith, surviving war and making friends.
Versify has been in production for nearly a year after Nashville Public Radio won a competitive grant from PRX and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to join a podcast incubation program known as Catapult. Reporter Tony Gonzalez has taken on the role of founding editor to help launch the podcast. Read more about the vision from Joshua and Tony here.
Mostly, we just hope you like what you hear. If it's worthy, share it with a friend and leave a review. Then come tell us a story and become part of Versify.
You can listen to the first three episodes right here.
Episode 1: There's No Cure
Fred Bailey grew up blind on a farm in Gallatin, Tennessee — except he didn’t actually know he was blind at first. Through a run-in with a teacher, a visit to a doctor and a confrontation with his father, he learned how to find strength in his limitations. And now he strives to pass on a similar tenacity to children through his after-school program, Children Are People.
In this episode, Fred shares his story to Nashville poet and rapper Saran Thompson. And within minutes, Saran takes what he’s heard and transforms it into an original poem.
Episode 2: Why We Will Never Forget April 1994
Ebralie Mwizerwa is a mother of five, an accountant, a devoted church-goer — and a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. She fled with her family while pregnant and now runs a nonprofit that assists incoming refugee families in Nashville, Tennessee.
Ebralie shares the story of her harrowing escape to poet Destiny Birdsong, who takes up the challenge of crafting an original poem for Ebralie — “trying to figure out how to speak the unspeakable,” as Destiny says.
Episode 3: Bone Deep
Serg Rodriguez hasn’t seen his family in years. He was excommunicated by their church and grew apart from his parents and siblings. But now as a writer in Nashville, his little sister is never far from his mind. Without warning, she troubles his thoughts and finds her way into everything he puts on paper. In this episode, we find out how family rejection has actually helped Serg to better understand unconditional love. And then Nashville poet Ciona Rouse turns Serg’s story into an original poem.
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