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Episode 9: Finding Meaning

In a month filled with tragedy, how do we make sense of it all? This week on the podcast, we use a poetic lens to try and find meaning within conflict.

An image of Will McInerney
Credit Jackson Hall / WUNC
Host Will McInerney

July 2016 is Dhaka and Baghdad and Medina and Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights and Dallas and Aleppo and Juba and Nice and  another and another and another - and another. It feels like the news won’t stop. It feels like the second this is published there will be another name to add to the list.

This week on Stories with a Heartbeat, we turn to poetry. Poetry does not have all the answers or some magic solution, but it connects us, it helps us find meaning, and it inspires us to think and act.

In the first story, host Will McInerney reflects on a simple conversation with a Palestinian refugee that both challenged and changed the way he reports on tragedy. Conflict brings out the full spectrum of human potential. Conflict exposes the unthinkably worst in people, and it simultaneously shines light on the absolute best. Conflict is human, it’s complex, and it can’t just be simplified into sound bites of suffering. Download this week’s episode to hear more.

Sameer Abdel-khalek
Credit Sameer Abdel-khalek
July 2011 Tahrir Square protest in Cairo, Egypt. Poetic Portraits of a Revolution documented the Arab Spring movements through poetry and photography during the Summer of 2011.

Stories with a Heartbeat closes this week with a poem from the 2011 project Poetic Portraits of a Revolution. Five years ago Mohammad Moussa, Kane Smego, Sameer Abdel Khalek, and host Will McInerney documented the Arab Spring popular movements in Egypt and Tunisia through poetry and photography. This story, filed from Cairo in July of 2011, looks at the vast spectrum of conflict from within the Egyptian Revolution and seek to find meaning through poetry. Download this week’s episode to hear more.

The news is overwhelming this month. But rather than averting our eyes, let's reexamine the way we look. With a poetic lens we can view the spectrum of human stories. We can acknowledge the depth of sorrow and loss, and at the same time, honor the strength and resilience we see. Through this storied and human approach maybe we can heal, maybe we can connect a little more, and maybe we can change ourselves and the world around us. That’s what poetry does, it makes us think and act with creative and passionate force.


Subscribe to this Podcast

Stories with a Heartbeat is a new podcast produced by North Carolina Public Radio and hosted by poet Will McInerney that uses poetry and storytelling to help us understand conflict. You can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, Google Play, or your podcast platform of choice.

Will McInerney is an award-winning spoken word poet, storyteller, educator, and journalist specializing in the intersection of conflict resolution and creative expression. Will hosts and produces Stories with a Heartbeat, a new podcast that explores the complexity of the human condition in conflict through poetry, stories, and conversation. In addition, Will helps with education reporting and produces the My Teacher Project.
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