Yolanda Wisher

2015 Pew Fellow

1/6: Yolanda Wisher, 2015 Pew Fellow. Photo by Ryan Collerd.
2/6: Yolanda Wisher, 2015 Pew Fellow. Photo by Ryan Collerd.
3/6: Yolanda Wisher in performance at Sanctuary Live with Karen L. Smith on percussion and Mark Palacio on bass, 2015. Photo by V. Shayne Frederick.
4/6: Images of Monk Eats an Afro, Hanging Loose Press, 2014. Cover design by Douglas Kearney. Courtesy of Yolanda Wisher.
5/6: Yolanda Wisher, 2013. Photo by Mark Palacio.
6/6: Yolanda Wisher in performance with Mark Palacio on bass at Cliveden during the Nice & Fresh series, 2015. Photo by Josh McIlvain.

“I strive for a musicianship of poetry on the page and in performance, marrying words with delivery to present my voice as an instrument that can play along the wide continuum of poetry and song.”

Yolanda Wisher (b. 1976) merges the personal and the political, writing for both artistic and community-oriented pursuits. The founder and director of the Germantown Poetry Festival, she is dedicated to poetry as a performative, public act, capable of producing environmental and social change. Wisher’s poetry grapples with the telling of stories that recorded histories cannot encapsulate, and, she says, “infuses and shapes them with musical forms such as blues, jazz, hip-hop, and ragtime.” Her first book, Monk Eats an Afro, was released by Hanging Loose Press in 2014. She co-edited Peace is a Haiku Song (Philadelphia Mural Arts Program) with Philadelphia’s first Poet Laureate and Pew Fellow Sonia Sanchez in 2013. A former Cave Canem Fellow, Wisher was also the first Montgomery County Pennsylvania Poet Laureate, and the recipient of a 2008 Leeway Foundation Art and Change Award. She is a Founding Cultural Agent for the US Department of Arts and Culture.


Collaborators & Colleagues

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

We speak to choreographer and dancer Jumatatu Poe who has produced such provocative, experimental dance works as the Center-funded Private Places.

Dancer, choreographer, and 2013 Pew Fellow Raphael Xavier takes hip-hop techniques from the street to the stage and tells the autobiographical story defined by sacrifice, passion, and transcendence.

Grants & Grantees

In 1996 the Center awarded Pew Fellowships to 12 Philadelphia-based artists, and grants to 28 dance and theater organizations in the greater Philadelphia region.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Philip M. Katz, Ph.D., is the director of projects at the Council of Independent Colleges. Previously, he was assistant director for research at the American Alliance of Museums.

Pew Fellow Yolanda Wisher leads a workshop exploring creative reflection in conjunction with the Center-funded Elephants on the Avenue, presented by Historic Germantown.

Collaborators & Colleagues

RoseAnne Spradlin is a New York City-based choreographer whose work explores body consciousness and innovation of structural forms in contemporary dance.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Stephanie Richards is an avant-garde trumpeter and composer who has become a prominent voice in the New York experimental scene, collaborating with improvisational pioneers including Henry Threadgill, Butch Morris, John Zorn, Laurie Anderson, and Anthony Braxton.

In honor of the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month this April, we highlight the recent achievements of many of our Pew Fellow poets.

In this month’s Pew Fellows news highlights, The Philadelphia Inquirer celebrates ten years of Martha Graham Cracker, the alter ego of theater artist Dito van Reigersberg. Poet Major Jackson has published a new book with W.W. Norton & Company, and visual artist Gabriel Martinez opens a solo show at The Print Center this fall. DJ King Britt and performance artist Kate Watson-Wallace will co-curate a new music series as part of the 2015 Fringe Festival in September.

Susan Lankin-Watts talks about her family’s rich musical legacy, the importance of her audience’s support, and more.

Originally created with Center support for the 2012 FringeArts Festival, Georgia Tech Arts now presents Thaddeus Phillips’ Red-Eye to Havre de Grace at the Ferst Center for the Arts.