Dayton poet Sierra Leone to write poem for new WYSO headquarters

Poet Sierra Leone, whose artistic collaborations include Dayton Metro Library, Dayton Performing Arts Alliance, Human Race Theatre Company, Levitt Pavilion and University of Dayton, has been commissioned to write a poem to celebrate and inaugurate WYSO’s new headquarters in Yellow Springs.

The poem will adorn the walls of the historic Union Schoolhouse. The custom work will be prominently and permanently displayed in the lobby of the new building, which is slated to be completed by spring 2024.

Credit: GLENNA JENNINGS

Credit: GLENNA JENNINGS

Co-founder of Signature Educational Solutions, Leone is the winner of a Governor’s Award in the Arts and a Kennedy Center Artist Fellowship Finalist. She has also served as an artist-in-residence and visiting scholar at The Hub in downtown Dayton. In particular, she has previously collaborated with WYSO. Most recently, she created an audio “conversation” with Maya Angelou across time and space, inspired by archival audio held by the station.

“Sierra is going to create something beautiful that celebrates WYSO’s role as a community radio station,” said Luke Dennis, WYSO general manager and one of Leone’s longtime collaborators, in a release. “The storytelling heard on WYSO allows us to deeply consider the journeys of others. Leone will create a poem that celebrates the journey of WYSO: from a scrappy 19-watt college station in 1958, whose signal could be heard only on the campus of Antioch College, to the community-owned 50,000-watt powerhouse that it is today.”

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As she embarks on her collaborative poetry creating process, Leone will begin by interviewing dozens of WYSO’s stakeholders, including listeners, staff past and present, and music hosts like Tom Duffee and Rev Cool, as well as station volunteers. Leone will listen as they share what the station means to them and its role in the community. The poem will blossom from a combination of what she hears and her own experiences and impressions of WYSO.

“I can take words and lived experiences and feelings and long-lived traditions and capture them in a poem,” said Leone.

She’ll begin interviews at the end of September and would like to connect with people who have deep connections to WYSO.

“I’m severely auditory,” she says. “So, for me, writing a poem for WYSO public radio is heaven.”

Anyone with a WYSO story to share should contact Luke Dennis, who will put them in touch with Leone. He can be reached by phone at 937-769-1379 or by email at ldennis@wyso.org.

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The new headquarters is designed by Yellow Springs native and architect Max Crome of Crome Architecture. The facility will have room for a growing team of journalists, production space where the community can continue to produce radio shows alongside WYSO’s professional staff, and a performance space with an audience capacity of 100. The station also notes its growing music division will use the space to host live performances featuring local and national acts.

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