Pew Fellow Yolanda Wisher’s “Love Letter to Philadelphia” As New Poet Laureate

1/3: Yolanda Wisher, 2015 Pew Fellow. Photo by Ryan Collerd.
2/3: Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney announces Pew Fellow Yolanda Wisher as the third Poet Laureate during a ceremony at City Hall on February 5, 2016.
3/3: From left to right: Beth Feldman Brandt, executive director of the Poet Laureate Governing Committee; Kelly Lee, chief cultural officer of the City of Philadelphia; Yolanda Wisher; David Jones, Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate; and Mayor Jim Kenney, following the announcement at City Hall.

Pew Fellow Yolanda Wisher (2015) was appointed the third Philadelphia Poet Laureate by Mayor Jim Kenney during a ceremony at City Hall on February 5, 2016. During her two-year term, Wisher will serve in both a creative and civic capacity, “publicly represent[ing] the city in the medium of poetry, and serv[ing] the art form within the city,” according to the City of Philadelphia Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy.

As Poet Laureate, Wisher will also provide mentorship to the city’s Youth Poet Laureate. She succeeds Pew Fellows Frank Sherlock (2013) and Sonia Sanchez (1993).

“I’m proud that my city has a post that affirms poetry as a vehicle for civic engagement and expression,” Wisher said during her remarks, according to 6 ABC. “Born in Philly, I returned 16 years ago in search of a poetry community. I found it, and it has shaped and inspired me.” Following her remarks, Wisher read her poem, A Love Letter to Philadelphia. (Read the poem here.>>)

Known for creating poetry that merges the personal and the political, Wisher writes for both artistic and community-oriented pursuits. The founder and director of the Germantown Poetry Festival, Wisher is the author of Monk Eats an Afro (2014), and a Founding Cultural Agent for the US Department of Arts and Culture.

On February 20, Wisher will host the “Poetic Address to the Nation,” a collaborative poetry event at the Painted Bride Art Center, which will be broadcast live on the online news network FreeSpeechTV.

Read a Q&A with the newly designated Poet Laureate here.>>

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