Poet David Nekimken of Hyde Park was so moved by the documentary film Nuclear Savage: The Islands of Secret Project 4.1 at the recent “Peace on Earth Film Festival” that he selected the film's topic as his own. Nekimken says he "was sad and angry" and wants "everyone to know this story is not just in the past." The U.S. military tested atomic and hydrogen bombs on Bikini Atoll. Residents of the area report elevated levels of cancer and other health problems.
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Verse Journalism is a form of poetry inspired by the news. It was born here in Chicago when Gwendolyn Brooks coined the term. Another gifted local poet, Quraysh Ali Lansana, taught the form to participants in a Neighborhood Writing Alliance special workshop series. Lansana had NWA writers turn their opinions and reactions to news events into poems, which WBEZ will present throughout the month of April in celebration of National Poetry Month. This series was recorded in collaboration with the Neighborhood Writing Alliance, a station partner.
Click here to listen to other Verse Journalism recordings made as part of this project.
You can also listen to Quraysh Ali Lansana speak with WBEZ's Jason Marck about the origins of verse journalism and his own experiences with the form.