Philadelphia Poet Laureate Program

The City of Philadelphia Poet Laureate program has moved under the auspices of the Free Library of Philadelphia's new Center for Public Life.

The Poet Laureate is a civic position that recognizes an exceptional poet who also demonstrates a commitment to the power of poetry to engage and inspire people throughout Philadelphia's neighborhoods. In addition to the two-year Poet Laureate position, the program also supports a new Youth Poet Laureate each year. The Poet Laureate mentors the Youth Poet Laureate, who represents the voice of Philadelphia's young poets. Both poets engage with Philadelphia citizens through readings, events, and a special project of their choosing.

Yolanda Wisher: 2016-2017 Philadelphia Poet Laureate

Yolanda Wisher is the author of the poetry volume Monk Eats an Afro (Hanging Loose Press, 2014) and co-editor of the anthology Peace is a Haiku Song (Philadelphia Mural Arts, 2013) with mentor and first Philadelphia Poet Laureate Sonia Sanchez. A former high school English teacher, she has long been active in Philadelphia's artistic and cultural sphere. Wisher founded and directed a Germantown neighborhood poetry festival, worked as Director of Art Education for Philadelphia Mural Arts, and has spearheaded numerous community-driven programs with partners such as The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Rosenbach, Historic Germantown, and the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture. Most recently, Wisher collaborated with Philadelphia Contemporary on the Outbound Poetry Festival, a pop-up poetry festival in Philadelphia's 30th Street Station. Her writing has appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Philadelphia Citizen, PoetryNow, Obsidian, Ploughshares, and other media. She is a Pew Fellow, Cave Canem Fellow, and Hedgebrook Writer-in-Residence. She lives in Germantown.

Husnaa Hashim: 2017 - 2018 Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate

In her role as Youth Poet Laureate, Husnaa Hashim will promote poetry as a means of storytelling and social change. She will be able to showcase her exceptional work and promote poetry, literacy, and arts education through community events and visits to Philadelphia schools and libraries across the city. Hashim is a senior at Mastery Charter School Shoemaker Campus.

The Poet Laureate application process is now open.

Poets who are residents of Philadelphia, and who are able to demonstrate both a significant body of work and a record of commitment to community service, are eligible to apply. Using the online application form, applicants may submit four poems (up to 10 pages total), a list of publications, a résumé, an artistic statement, and three references. Applicants may also submit up to three links to videos of public readings or performances. The application process closes on October 13, 2017.

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For more information, including requests for appearances by the Philadelphia Poet Laureate or Youth Poet Laureate, contact poetlaureate@freelibrary.org. Please note that we may not be able to attend all requests out of respect for the time of the two poets.