Yolanda Wisher’s Rent Party at The Rosenbach: Oak & Ivy
Wed, February 27, 2019 6:00 P.M.
The Rosenbach | 2008 Delancey Place, Philadelphia, PA 19103
For tickets: https://rosenbach.org/events/yolanda-wishers-rent-party-2018-02-27/
About Yolanda Wisher’s Rent Party at The Rosenbach
Yolanda Wisher’s Rent Party at The Rosenbach invokes the tradition of the rent party dating back to the Harlem Renaissance, when communal gatherings of artists fed an outpouring of blues, jazz, and poetry. Rent parties were some of the original house parties. Guests would pay a small fee for homespun food, prohibited drink and live entertainment. Sometimes a piano was hauled up a few flights of stairs for the occasion. While they were designed to help the host pay their rent with the help of a few friends spreading the word, the ancestral rent parties were also incubators of cultural innovation.
Curated and hosted by Philadelphia Poet Laureate Emerita Yolanda Wisher, each rent party features readings by two contemporary poets from different schools of thought and craft in addition to a performance Wisher and her band The Afroeaters, reviving a vintage work of jazz poetry or premiering a new work inspired by the Rosenbach’s collection. The series is an ongoing love letter to the literary past, often focusing on a writer whose work has been lost, forgotten, or misunderstood. Rent party guests are invited to sip a signature cocktail as they witness literary and musical performances. They can purchase books or CDs by the featured artists and get them signed in person. Seating is limited; advance registration is strongly recommended.
About Oak & Ivy
The Oak & Ivy Edition explores the complex lives and work of married poets Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906) and Alice Dunbar Nelson (1875-1935). Dunbar was known affectionately and notoriously for writing in traditional English and African American dialect. Oak and Ivy, his first collection of poems was published in 1893 and is part of The Rosenbach’s collection. He sold copies of the book to passengers during his shift as an elevator operator, and was later dubbed “The Poet Laureate of the Negro Race” by Booker T. Washington. Nelson, a poet and journalist, was one of the few African Americans who earned a college degree in the late 19th century. Her two-year correspondence with Dunbar led to a secret marriage in 1898. Her affairs with other women, documented in her diaries, deeply unsettled and infuriated Dunbar to the point of physical violence. Their marriage was marked by illness, depression and alcoholism. The event title Oak & Ivy is a metaphor for their tumultuous union and their enduring creative legacies.
Composer-poet Janice Lowe, current Fellow in Poetics and Poetic Practice for the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Leaving CLE: Poems of nomadic dispersal (Miami University Press).
Poet and spoken word artist Kirwyn Sutherland, co-founder of the Modern Lit workshop series for poets of color and author of a forthcoming chapbook from Thread Makes Blanket Press.
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 performs a unique blend of poetry and song with her band The Afroeaters, and her work has been featured in a variety of media.