February 7, 2016
O n Friday, Mayor Kenney announced that Yolanda Wisher, 39, has been named Philadelphia's poet laureate for 2016-17. She is a community activist, a teacher, and a poet deeply aware of her city and its rhythms. As an introduction to her work, here's a Phillycentric poem titled "5 South 43rd Street, Floor 2. " It's vivid, vibrant, of the streets - and yet also written in mature, 21st-century, good old iambic pentameter. Here is a poet who is a Philadelphian who is a poet. - John Timpane Sometimes we would get hungry for the neighborhood.
May 16, 1999 |
With stylish eyeglasses framing her bright, round face, a knit cap hiding her hair, and a red African scarf tumbling from her neck, 23-year-old Yolanda Wisher looks very unlike the staid image of "the old guy who writes poetry" with which she grew up. But Wisher writes poetry, too - well enough to have edged out 82 others last month to become Montgomery County's first poet laureate. And the Upper Gwynedd native - whose works draw inspiration from such disparate sources as Alice Walker, Earth Wind & Fire, and the conversations she overhears in her West Philadelphia neighborhood - plans to spend the summer teaching local students that poetry is more accessible than they might think.
May 23, 2004 |
A television special about the Triangle Waist Co. fire in 1911 moved Teresa Mendez-Quigley to write a poem called "Winged Victory. " Based on the reported leap of a husband and wife from a factory window in New York, the poem is Mendez-Quigley's imagined account of the couple's last moments together. "How difficult it must have been," Mendez-Quigley said last week, her sympathy rekindled as she recalled the doomed pair. "They kissed and then jumped. " Mendez-Quigley, who lives in Erdenheim, was selected recently as the 2004 Montgomery County poet laureate.
October 25, 1995 |
Slightly rumpled after his flight from California, Robert Hass listens open-mouthed to his own introduction. And rises to the podium, it seems, shyly. And wrestles a sheaf of poems out of his bag. The first time he came to Washington, he was a young war protester, here to help levitate the Pentagon. This time, he is the poet laureate of the United States. Part Zen, part Catholic, unruly haired, ruddy-faced, father, grandfather, he has been teaching more than half his life, now at Berkeley.
May 29, 1988 |
While other homemakers grab a few minutes of relaxation by curling up with the latest best seller or catching up on a favorite soap opera, Rose Mary Gerlach of East Bradford steals away to a quiet corner and "scribbles" her thoughts and feelings, which later becomes her poetry. "I'm not sure when I began loving to read and write poetry, but I can remember writing seriously when I was 10 years old," said Gerlach, who says she is the mother of two grown children but will not disclose her age. "I have always been active - caring for my children, working with my husband, Joe, in our Highland Park jewelry store, restoring our home and gardening.
March 22, 1996 |
With a strong but gentle voice, punctuated by occasional gestures, the nation's poet laureate reminded a Temple audience last night that poetry is not only legitimate, but respectable. Bespectacled, wearing a jacket and tie, 55-year-old Robert Hass looked like a regular guy standing behind the lectern, reading to the 120 or so students, professors and others gathered at Temple's Center City campus. Then he began to read. After a few short poems, he paused, self-consciously, and said, "Oh, my God, I've started writing autobiographical poems about my childhood.
July 11, 2004 |
Molly Connors stood up through the sunroof of a 1988 Suzuki Samurai that was decorated with red, white and blue paper plates and balloons for the Fourth of July parade in Lansdowne. She sipped coffee, smiled and waved to hundreds of onlookers as the jeep inched along, right between the men on antique bicycles with huge wheels and the guys in kilts playing bagpipes. The vehicle bearing her official title - Lansdowne poet laureate - spurred conversation in this borough of 11,000, located near the West Philadelphia border in Delaware County.
July 2, 2003 |
The state poet laureate is out. Medical-malpractice reform is in limbo. But the partisan budget tussle is over. During a 32-hour marathon in the state Senate and Assembly, sharply focused on the state budget, weary legislators voted on a flurry of bills, sending 52 to the governor yesterday. Some bills thrived with quick, easy passage, while others were overshadowed by the budget drama. Medical-malpractice reform - a hot partisan issue in Trenton this spring - will rest until the houses return to Trenton in September, with the Senate and Assembly unable to compromise on how to fix the problem of skyrocketing malpractice insurance premiums for doctors.
April 29, 2007 |
The night they named David Simpson poet laureate of Montgomery County, his mother showed up. So did his twin brother, Dan. When it was all over, Miriam Dell bought each a book from a vendor at Arcadia University, where Simpson was feted April 13. Then she turned to Joanne Leva, founder and director of the laureate program, and poet Carolyn Forche, celebrity judge for this year's competition. "I don't know why they want books," Dell said. "They both have so many of them, and they can't read them.
May 9, 2002 |
John Volkmer has finally gotten A.E. Houseman out of his system. Gone is the guilty pleasure of Houseman's sentimental verse. Gone is the charm of his nostalgia. Since unburdening himself in an apologia in the January edition of Parnassus magazine, Volkmer, a professor of English at Ursinus College, has moved on. And just in time. Chosen last month as the new poet laureate of Montgomery County, Volkmer must now muse upon his own verse, which is as far from the classical style of Houseman as a Nebraska grain elevator is from the wood-paneled halls of Oxford.