Poet Kee Humphrey of Hyde Park has been haunted for nearly 20 years by a TIME magazine cover that she felt was “a stain on Chicago” and an example of a broken child welfare system. In August 1994, 11-year-old Robert “Yummy” Sandifer was executed by fellow gang members who feared he could be turned against them after he allegedly committed murder.
Click here to read this piece.
Sandifer’s death drew national attention to gang problems affecting children across America’s inner cities. His story is now chronicled in the Coretta Scott King Award-winning graphic novel Yummy: the Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri.
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.