Philadelphia Contemporary, the nonprofit arts organization founded by former Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts director Harry Philbrick in 2016, announced today that poet Yolanda Wisher will join the organization as its curator of spoken word. Wisher served as Philadelphia’s 2016–17 poet laureate and as curator of Philadelphia Contemporary’s Outbound Poetry Festival, the first popup poetry event at Thirtieth Street Station, last April.
“Yolanda has long been a central figure in Philadelphia’s literary scene, and a leading voice in the performance of poetry as a public art,” Philbrick said. “She is uniquely suited to bring vibrant, engaging, incisive spoken word to the people of Philadelphia.” Wisher’s appointment is the latest example of Philadelphia Contemporary’s continued growth. Since its founding, the organization has greatly expanded its public programming and is currently focusing on establishing a permanent space.
Wisher is the author of the poetry volume Monk Eats an Afro (2014). She also coedited the anthology Peace Is a Haiku Song (2013) with her mentor and the inaugural Philadelphia poet laureate Sonia Sanchez. Wisher taught high-school English for ten years, founded and directed a neighborhood festival headlined by young poets in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, and worked as the director of art education for Philadelphia Mural Arts. Wisher performs a blend of poetry and song with her band the Afroeaters and is currently the 2017–18 CPCW Fellow in Poetics and Poetic Practice at the University of Pennsylvania.