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NJTV and Local Poets Talk Journalism/Art Crossover at Dodge Poetry Festival

One hundred years ago, Ezra Pound wrote that Monday’s news was worth a nickel, but by Tuesday it was trash, while “poetry is news that stays news.”

At the annual Dodge Poetry Festival held at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center on Friday, a panel discussion showcased how we creatively engage communities with in-depth reporting using poetry and theater. Spotlighted were NJTV two projects that are helping reveal the emotional – and factual – truth of some of the important stories of our time. Playwright Jon Bernson led a conversation with local poets Grisel Acosta and Marjorie Barnes and NJTV News Correspondent Brenda Flanagan about turning journalism into art. Acosta and Barnes, who were challenged to create poetry after attending NJTV’s most recent Healthy NJ: New Jersey’s Drug Addiction Crisis community forum in Newark, read their work during the session.

(L-R) Marjorie Barnes, Grisel Acosta, Brenda Flanagan and moderator Jon Benson at the Dodge Poetry Festival session, “Poetry is News that Stays News”

“I started out as a journalist…I see myself as a writer,” said Acosta about the crossover of art and journalism. “I just feel like I write, sometimes there are facts and sometimes there is fiction, and sometimes the fiction is more factual than the facts.”

Flanagan spoke to her experience watching an investigative reporting series she worked on translated onto the stage in a play this summer, and how she sees a common thread between storytelling and reporting. Said Flanagan during the panel, “I think even when you’re telling a straight (news) story, you don’t just list the facts. You’re telling a story, and stories of people. So what you need to find is the people involved in the story and tell their story…And then, all of a sudden, the news makes a lot more sense than just sitting there reading ’28-percent of people believe this or that.”

The session was coordinated by The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR), which uses the arts and innovative storytelling practices to engage audiences with investigative journalism.

Along with Acosta and Barnes’ poems, NJTV is also hosting an open call for original poetry about the impacts of drug addiction: NJTV challenges you to write an original poem about how addiction has affected you or your family.Your poem could be about your own experiences with addiction and recovery, how drug abuse has affected your family, a memorial to someone you lost to an overdose – whatever you’d like to write about. For more information about how to share your poem, visit: njdrugcrisis.org/poems. You’ve got until November 30, 2016 to send in your poems.