Yolanda Wisher

30 Nov 2016


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


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


Yolanda Wisher in performance at Sanctuary Live with Karen L. Smith on percussion and Mark Palacio on bass, 2015. Photo by V. Shayne Frederick.


Images of Monk Eats an Afro, Hanging Loose Press, 2014. Cover design by Douglas Kearney. Courtesy of Yolanda Wisher.

"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. Wisher served as poet laureate of Philadelphia herself in 2016-2017. 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.