Fellows Friday: Q&A with Frank Sherlock

Frank Sherlock, 2013 Pew Fellow. Photo by Colin Lenton.

As part of our new “Fellows Friday” web feature, we focus on the artistic lives of our Pew Fellows: their aspirations, influences, and creative challenges. This week, we speak to 2013 Pew Fellow and Philadelphia’s newly designated poet laureate, Frank Sherlock, author of the new chapbook Neighbor Ballads and the forthcoming Space Between These Lines Not Dedicated, to be published this year by ixnay press.

What music are you listening to? Which books are on your bedside table?

I am very much in a sound of Philadelphia state of mind lately, so there’s a lot of Gamble and Huff going on. I also like to listen to Wild Flag before I leave the house. Currently the books that I keep reaching for are Expect Anything Fear Nothing: The Situationist Movement in Scandinavia and Elsewhere, and Every Goodbye Ain’t Gone: An Anthology of Innovative Poetry by African Americans.

If you could collaborate with anyone alive today (someone you don’t know personally), who would it be?

I would love to work with The Roots on a Philadelphia-based project. I can also envision a collaboration with Yoko Ono. I taught her work to young people a few years back, and co-founded the YDL (Yoko Defense League): “a de-centered organization that defends Ono from late-McCarthyites and neo-McCartneyites.” Jeremy Deller has already collaborated with me, he just didn’t know it at the time.

What images or things keep you company in the space where you work?

I’m kept company by a framed photo of Rufus Harley (the world’s first jazz bagpiper), a statue of Maria Quitéria, a citrine crystal given to me by [2011 Pew Fellow] CAConrad, and a pack of Pal’s Lounge matches in detritus that now shimmers gold—a talisman from my late-night New Orleans headquarters.

When did you know you were going to be an artist?

Once I saw Yevgeny Yevtushenko read at the University of Pennsylvania, I knew that I wanted to be a poet. Then I went to my second poetry reading and couldn’t help but think, “What the hell is this?” But it was too late.

Listen to Sherlock discuss his poet laureate position with Marty Moss-Coane on WHYY’s Radio Times March 5, 2014 program >


Questions of Practice

Feasley is a self-described “landscape painter” whose work tends to be small-scale and intimate—supernatural scenes painted in rich, saturated colors that result in a hybrid of abstract and figurative art.

Viji Rao developed three distinctive works to expand her artistic roots in South Indian dance, based on incarnations of the Hindu goddess Devi.

Pew Fellow and Philadelphia Poet Laureate Yolanda Wisher leads a poetry workshop and story circle in Historic Germantown.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Elizabeth Smith is the executive director of the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation in New York City.

Grants & Grantees

LaVaughn Robinson (1927–2008) was a tap dancer and a 1992 Pew Fellow.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Anna Drozdowski is an independent curator working in non-traditional, hybrid, and new performance practices.

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.

Grants & Grantees

In 2004 the Center awarded Pew Fellowships to 12 Philadelphia-based artists, and grants to 76 dance, music, theater, and visual arts organizations and practitioners in the greater Philadelphia region.

Collaborators & Colleagues

A multiple Grammy Award winner, Robert Page is the Paul Mellon University Professor of Music Emeritus in the School of Music and coordinator of the opera program.

The Winter 2013 issue of Trust, the official magazine of The Pew Charitable Trusts, features The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage’s artist residency program, established with arts colonies throughout North America.

Grants & Grantees

In 1989 the Center awarded grants to 13 music organizations in the greater Philadelphia region, including the Painted Bride Art Center and the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia.

Pew Fellow and former Philadelphia Poet Laureate Sonia Sanchez leads a poetry workshop exploring the history of Johnson House, Philadelphia’s only intact stop on the Underground Railroad.