Poet D. Kucha Brownlee of East Garfield Park decided to write about the unrest in Afghanistan, exploring the recent burning of Qurans by U.S. soldiers and the reaction to it. Brownlee says she was worried for the soldiers’ safety. She also was concerned some of the soldiers may have been disrespectful of other cultures, and may have unwittingly played into extremists’ hands and incited violence.
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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.