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.>>



Collaborators & Colleagues

Dance and choreographer Megan Bridge co-directs < fidget >, a platform for her collaborative work with composer, designer, and musicologist Peter Price.

Grants & Grantees

At age 33, Germaine Ingram (Pew Fellow, 2010) took up dance under the tutelage of a Philadelphia tap legend, the late LaVaughn Robinson (a 1992 Pew Fellow).

Grants & Grantees

Joshua Mosley is a visual artist and a 2005 Pew Fellow.

Grants & Grantees

Laurence Salzmann is a visual artist and a 2001 Pew Fellow.

Filmmaker and Pew Fellow Heidi Saman recalls the first film that influenced her practice, what inspires her to tell stories of the immigrant experience, and more.

The Center marks the 25th anniversary of the Pew Fellowships in the Arts with a short film, released in March 2017.

Grants & Grantees

In 1994 the Center awarded Pew Fellowships to 16 Philadelphia-based artists, and grants to 34 dance and music organizations in the greater Philadelphia region.

Grants & Grantees

In 2001 the Center awarded Pew Fellowships to 12 Philadelphia-based artists, and grants to 57 dance, music, theater, and visual arts organizations and practitioners in the greater Philadelphia region.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Natasha Bakht is an Indian contemporary dancer and choreographer. In 2015, she was a panelist in Performance.

The William Way LGBT Community Center is a non-profit organization serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender populations of Philadelphia and its nearby communities.

Grants & Grantees

Andrew Simonet is a dance artist, a founder of Artists U and Headlong Dance Theater, and a 2006 Pew Fellow.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Caden Manson is a theater artist and a 2002 Pew Fellow.