Fellows Friday: National Poetry Month Edition

01 Apr 2016


Laynie Browne, 2014 Pew Fellow. Photo by Ryan Collerd.


Yolanda Wisher, 2015 Pew Fellow. Photo by Ryan Collerd.


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

Since 1992, The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage has awarded 40 Pew Fellowships to poets working in our region. In honor of the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month this April, we are highlighting the recent achievements of many of our Pew Fellow poets. These poets and their extraordinary work contribute to the vitality of our cultural community, and showcase the beauty of language and its power to inspire.

Stay tuned for more Pew Fellow poet content on the Center's Facebook and Twitter this month, and see a selection of highlights below.

Yolanda Wisher (2015) was appointed the third Philadelphia Poet Laureate by Mayor Jim Kenney on February 5, 2016. Following Wisher's reading of her poem "Love Letter to Philadelphia," the Mayor remarked that "poetry allows you to express emotion within a discipline...it's what I admire about poets the most," according to WHYY. Wisher succeeds Pew Fellows Sonia Sanchez (1993) and Frank Sherlock (2013), who implemented the "Write Your Block" project during his tenure, encouraging Philadelphians to use poetry as a tool for self-expression. Read more>>

BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez, a documentary about Sonia Sanchez (1993), made its Philadelphia premiere at the 2015 BlackStar Film Festival. Co-directed and produced by Janet Goldwater (2005) and Barbara Attie (2005), the film features appearances by Questlove, Talib Kweli, Ursula Rucker, Ayana Mathis, Amiri Baraka, John Bracey, Nikki Giovanni, Bryonn Bain, Imani Uzuri, and others. The African Diaspora International Film Festival named the documentary the "Best Film Directed by a Woman of Color." Read more>>

Brian Teare (2015) released The Empty Form Goes All the Way to Heaven, an exploration of the experience of illness and pain, inspired by the writing and paintings of Agnes Martin. Jacket2 reviewed the publication, in which the critic writes that "Teare's typography is utterly attentive to the page as compositional field." Read more>>

Major Jackson's (1995) recent book Roll Deep was reviewed in The New York Times. "As is characteristic of Jackson, his heavy-hitting puns remind us that history and contemporary society have a dark continuity," writes The Times. Jackson's poem Aubade was featured in The New Yorker's "2015: Our Year in Poems." Read more>>

Sueyeun Juliette Lee (2013) presented BLUE LIGHT and WAVE, a performance and workshop that combined poetry with Korean dance, at Chicago's Outer Space Studio as part of the 2016 IN>TIME festival. In its festival preview, Art in America called Lee's work "trancelike." Read more>>

Laynie Browne (2014) is currently touring across the US and Europe holding readings and book signings for her new book Scorpyn Odes. On March 31, she participated in a group reading in conjunction with the release of Tender Omnibus, a series of texts chronicling the first 25 years of the experimental poetry publisher Tender Buttons Press, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Read more>>

CAConrad (2013) received the Believer Magazine Poetry Award for his book ECODEVIANCE: (Soma)tics for the Future Wilderness. In its announcement, Believer declared that "CAConrad has become, through his writing and his presence, a hero to many in the poetry world." Read more>>

J.C. Todd (2014) recently released FUBAR, a poetry, photography, and printmaking book created in collaboration with artist MaryAnn L. Miller, through Lucia Press. Read more>>

The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) paid tribute to the late poet Essex Hemphill (1993) through an online commission, Af·fixing Ceremony: Four Movements for Essex, by Philadelphia filmmaker and visual artist Tiona McClodden. Commemorating the 20th anniversary of Hemphill's death from HIV/AIDS complications, the project debuted on World AIDS Day, December 1, 2015. Read more>>