Poetry Slams Conditions of Richmond’s Public Housing

When poetry and investigative reporting combine, the results are fantastic.

PBS recently featured a collaboration between the Center for Investigative Reporting and Youth Speaks, called the Off/Page Project. One Off/Page result is a spoken word piece called “This is Home,” detailing the horrid conditions of public housing in Richmond, Va.

For Deandre Evans, Will Hartfield and Donte Clark, writing poetry isn’t solely self-expression; it’s also a means of reporting a story affecting their community.

Through the Off/Page Project, a collaboration between Youth Speaks and The Center for Investigative Reporting, the three poets joined CIR’s Amy Harris in the field while she conducted research on mismanagement of public housing in Richmond, Calif.

José Vadi, the director of Off/Page Project, calls it “source storytelling.”

“It’s using source material from investigative reporting, in addition to our own personal narratives and our own personal history, to create new forms of storytelling,” Vadi told chief arts correspondent Jeffrey Brown.

Molly Rose Kaufman has written previously on Rooflines about the empowering nature of poetry and how it's a great tool for community development. The creative challenge, when put to a community, brings a whole new vibe and perspective as you can see in the Off/Page Project video below:

Shelterforce is the only independent, non-academic publication covering the worlds of community development, affordable housing, and neighborhood stabilization.


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