Produced by Lu Olkowski - in person and post-presentation discussion
In Verse, conceived in November 2008 while the country was still reeling from the worst economic downturn since The Great Depression, the award winning multi-media reporting project combines poetry, photography and audio footage to create “documentary poems” for radio, the web, print and the iPhone. In the spirit of the 75th anniversary of the Federal Writer’s Project, In Verse enlisted teams of poets, photographers, and radio producers to interview people living on the economic edge and to document their lives. The two-presentation project highlights working mothers in Troy, New York with “Women of Troy;” and the on going recovery of the Gulf Coast post Hurricane Katrina with “Congregation”. The visual/audio presentations explore how the crisis was affecting citizens who were struggling long before Wall Street’s collapse. The project has been presented publicly with Q&A session at the 2011 SXSW film conference in Austin, TX; and at the International Feature Conference sponsored by the European Broadcasting Union in Hämeenlinna Finland.
Women of Troy
Troy, New York
The first installment titled Women of Troy features the work of poet Susan B.A. Somers-Willett, photographer Brenda Ann Kenneally and radio journalist Lu Olkowski as they document the lives of young, working-class mothers in Troy, New York.
Troy, New York was once one of the richest cities in America, thanks to its role in the industrial revolution. Now roughly 19 percent of the population is living below the US poverty line. 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.
Radio presentation is 20 minutes with the poetry and voices of the documented subjects followed by a 5-minute multi-media presentation Read more at transome.org:
The second installment, Congregation (still above of children on bikes) features the work of Pulitzer Prize winning poet Natasha Trethewey , photographer Joshua Cogan and radio journalist Lu Olkowski as they report on the ongoing recovery of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. For Trethewey, the story took an unexpected turn towards the personal when she reported about how her brother’s frustration after Hurricane Katrina led him into a world of drugs and eventually in prison. Radio presentation is 20 minutes with the poetry and voices of the documented subjects followed by two 5-minute multimedia presentations.
PRAISE FOR IN VERSE:
"This is some of the strongest multi-media work in recent memory.”
-- Jay Allison, Executive Director, Atlantic Public Media
“What an extraordinary creation and collaboration. It is one of the most honest, artistic, hard-hitting, soul-shaking projects I've seen in a long time.”
-- Davia Nelson, The Kitchen Sisters
"I've never seen/heard poetry used so journalistically... ...this project extends the so-called New Journalism of people like Joseph Mitchell and Joan Didion into the art of poetry.”
-- Matthew Sharpe, Novelist
"Women of Troy" and "Congregation"
Lu Olkowski is a contributing producer to Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen. Her work has also been heard on All Things Considered, Day to Day, Radio Lab, This American Life and Weekend America. She has been honored by the American Women in Radio & Television; the literary magazine The Missouri Review and the Third Coast International Audio Festival. Prior to a career in public radio, Lu was a creative director at Nickelodeon where she led a team of producers in exploring new ways of storytelling by using emerging technologies.
In Verse is produced through the generous funding of Maker’s Quest 2.0, an initiative of AIR , the Association of Independents in Radio, Incorporated. This project was made possible with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. In Verse was created in partnership with the Virginia Quarterly Review and originally aired on Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen. The mutli-media project has been presented publicly with Q&A session at the 2011 SXSW film conference in Austin, TX and at the International Feature Conference sponsored by the European Broadcasting Union in Hämeenlinna, Finland. In Verse's "Women of Troy" is the winner of the 2010 Gracie Allen Award for Women of Troy (Awarded by the American Women in Radio & Television) and the Missouri Review’s 2010 Audio Competition for Women of Troy.
Boys gather on a roadside to pass the time in Gulfport, MS.
© Joshua Cogan
CENTER PHOTO: DJ Guerin and her daughter on Prom Night in Troy, NY.
© Brenda Ann Kenneally
Scribe Video Center's Producers’ Forums are supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, Philadelphia Cultural Fund, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the Independence Foundation.