Exciting news to report: The New Yorker has published a post about In Verse, MQ2 grantee Lu Olkowski’s powerful docu-poetry project. The piece appears on “Book Bench,” The New Yorker book department’s blog about literary life.
“I think it is important that these poems are about real people,” says Somers-Willett. The poet describes how she first encountered these real-life characters through Brenda Ann Kenneally’s photographs, and later met the women during a visit to the post-industrial city of Troy, New York.
“My goal as a poet-reporter isn’t just to show middle-class audiences the stark face of poverty—though that face is there. I also wanted to write about what makes these women happy and feel good. So much of what’s said about folks living in poverty is paternalistic. These women have tough lives, but they also have a lot of laughter in their households: they love their kids and each other fiercely. I guess in the end it’s about multifaceted representation: you read about the women in the poems, you hear their voices on the radio, you see their homes and their faces in Brenda’s photographs. I hope what we offer is a new model of reporting that adds dimension to the standard narrative about poverty.”