Yolanda Wisher


& beyond

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sing scars

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Ode to Cherry Street Pier



bless the builders
their bent backs
hammering hands
who fixed your i-beams
keyed your corbels
poured your concrete

bless your ghosts
reaper ships from jamaica
still docking at daybreak
the banana fiends
still unpacking crates
& waiting for the whistle to blow

bless you, no. 9
the last of your tribe
to be built in philly
with a single story
bless your permanence
blunt beauty, your languid loyalty

bless the visionaries
who resurrected you:
now the bridges & boats
do double takes
& you turn
the river’s head

pier of peers, now you’re many stories
& we are your united fruit
free. alighting from many republics
of the body & mind
garden of artists along the water
cargo of undomesticated dreams

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Philadelphia-based poet, singer, educator and curator Yolanda Wisher is the author of Monk Eats an Afro (Hanging Loose Press, 2014) and the co-editor of Peace is a Haiku Song (Philadelphia Mural Arts, 2013). Wisher was named the inaugural Poet Laureate of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, in 1999 and the third Poet Laureate of Philadelphia in 2016. A Pew and Cave Canem Fellow, she has been a Writer in Residence at Hedgebrook and Aspen Words. Wisher taught high school English for a decade, served as Director of Art Education for Philadelphia Mural Arts, and founded and directed the Germantown Poetry and Outbound Poetry Festivals. She performs a unique blend of poetry and song with her band The Afroeaters and has led workshops and curated events in partnership with the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Free Library of Philadelphia, and the U.S. Department of Arts & Culture. Wisher was the 2017-2018 CPCW Fellow in Poetics and Poetic Practice at the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently the Curator of Spoken Word at Philadelphia Contemporary and is part of the first cohort of artists with studios at the Cherry Street Pier on the Delaware River Waterfront.