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Poetry as Multimedia Documentary

PUBLISHED: February 4, 2011

For those of you at the AWP Conference in Washington DC this weekend, please come out tomorrow, Saturday, February 5, to hear four poets from the pages of VQR discuss their multimedia projects. It’s an all-star line-up, featuring work from the VQR website by Kwame Dawes, Susan B.A. Somers-Willett, and Natasha Trethewey. Erika Meitner will also be debuting a work-in-progress from the upcoming Spring issue. The event begins promptly at noon in the Delaware Suite Room on the Lobby Level of the Marriott Wardman Park.

For those of you who can’t make it in person, here’s a sampling of the work they will be discussing.

Kwame Dawes

For “Ashes,” poet Kwame Dawes and photographer Andre Lambertson collaborated on a series of poems and images exploring various American inner cities.

Binary Data

Dawes and Lambertson have also collaborated on a new multimedia poetry project on the recovery effort in Haiti, sponsored by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. A number of the poems and photographers will be appearing in the Spring issue of VQR, but you can sneak a peek at the online versions on the Pulitzer Center website.

Susan B.A. Somers-Willett

For “Women of Troy,” poet Susan Somers-Willett, photographer Brenda Ann Kenneally, and audio producer Lu Olkowski looked at the lives of young, working-class women in Troy, New York, a industrial powerhouse in the nineteenth century but now a town where few opportunities exist—and those typically in the form of low-paying service jobs.

In Verse: Women of Troy from InVerse on Vimeo.

“The Cutting Place”

“In the Office of Temporary Assistance”

“Just a Girl”

Natasha Trethewey

For “Congregation,” Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Natasha Trethewey, Emmy-winning photographer Joshua Cogan, and audio producer Lu Olkowski traveled to Gulfport, Mississippi, to view the city in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. During Trethewey’s trip, the story took an unexpected turn toward the personal—as Natasha reported, in poems, how her own brother’s frustration after Katrina ravaged the economy of the Gulf Coast led him into the world of drugs and eventually landed him in prison.

In Verse: Congregation, Witness from InVerse on Vimeo.

In Verse: Congregation, Believer from InVerse on Vimeo.

Olkowski also turned the InVerse projects by Somers-Willett and Trethewey into radio stories for Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen. In Verse comes to you from Public Radio Makers Quest 2.0, an initiative of the Association of Independents in Radio. This project is made possible with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.


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