Investigative reporting inspires poetry

What happens when you pair young poets with journalists to investigate issues that directly affect them and their communities?

The Off/Page Project, a collaboration between The Center for Investigative Reporting and Youth Speaks, seeks to do just that. Through a process that Project Director José Vadi terms “sourced storytelling,” the Off/Page Project uses facts and characters from CIR’s reporting to inspire poets’ writing.

The latest example: a new short film produced as a part of Subsidized Squalor, a collaborative investigation by CIR, KQED and the San Francisco Chronicle that exposed the failures of the Richmond Housing Authority in California and how it has left residents living in deplorable conditions.

Three poets from RAW Talent, or Richmond Artists With Talent – William Hartfield-Peoples, Donte Clark and Deandre Evans – teamed up with CIR’s Amy Julia Harris during her reporting, interviewing sources and walking through dilapidated, mold-infested buildings.

Playing the roles of both documentarians and storytellers, the poets incorporated Harris’ findings into their own investigation of the larger socioeconomic state of Richmond. The result: “This is Home,” a collaborative piece of multimedia storytelling that highlights the findings of CIR’s investigation and cites sources’ experiences pulled from Harris’ reporting.

Watch “This Is Home” from the Off/Page Project above.

Read the full Subsidized Squalor investigation here, and hear from a resident of the Richmond housing project below.

Off/Page’s work on the investigation continues with a collaboration with StoryWorks, CIR’s partnership with Tides Theatre in San Francisco, to bring CIR’s stories and the compelling performances of Off/Page’s poets to the stage. If you’re in the Bay Area, you can buy tickets here.


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