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 >

Pew Fellow Christopher Colucci on his progression from musician to sound designer, the music and books that inspire him, and more.

This month, Afaa Michael Weaver is awarded the $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, Joshua Mosley’s work appears at the Whitney Biennial, King Britt curates at MoMA PS1, and much more.

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.

This month’s Pew Fellows news highlights include a new opera from Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon, a Hodder Fellowship through Princeton University for set designer and theater artist Matt Saunders, and new exhibition works by artists Tim Portlock, Jane Irish, Alex Da Corte, and more.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Jenelle Porter is senior curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. Prior to that, she curated at Artists Space in New York and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia.

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

The Unofficial Guide to Audience Watching Performance is an evening-length autobiographical dance, the culmination of Philadelphia-based breakdancer Raphael Xavier’s 30 years of experience in hip-hop genres. Xavier, a 2013 Pew Fellow, plays with the rhythms of rap, break dancing and narrative to draw parallels between the performer’s body and the stage itself.

Discomfort is a sign that one is working with integrity, says poet and Pew Fellow Emily Abendroth (2013).

Collaborators & Colleagues

Ben Marcus is the author of several books of fiction, including Leaving the Sea (Alfred A. Knopf, 2014) and The Flame Alphabet (Alfred A. Knopf, 2012).

Collaborators & Colleagues

Dr. Leslie King-Hammond is an artist, curator, and graduate dean emeritus and founding director of the Center for Race and Culture at the
Maryland Institute College of Art.

Percussionist and Pew Fellow Pablo Batista presents El Viaje (The Journey), a new performance work.

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.