Poet Yolanda Wisher was born in Philadelphia and raised in North Wales, Pennsylvania. She earned a BA at Lafayette College and an MA at Temple University and was a Cave Canem fellow. She is the author of the poetry collection Monk Eats an Afro (2014). Her work has been included in the anthologies Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade (2006), The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South (2007), and A Best of Fence: The First Nine Years (2009).
Wisher’s poems are musical, playful, and brutal, and she infuses spoken language with blues-informed cadence to engage themes of intimacy, power, and identity. In a 2014 interview with Lynn Rosen for the Philadelphia City Paper, Wisher stated, “I definitely saw early on the job of the poet being [to create] a collective and collaborative experience. I love the solitary experience of writing and mulling over and reflecting on things. But something about the exchange, whether it’s through a reading or a workshop, … the communal experience of poetry really speaks to me.”
Founder and director of the Germantown Poetry Festival, Wisher has served as director of art education for the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. At the age of 23, she was named the inaugural Montgomery County (Pennsylvania) poet laureate. She received an Art and Change grant from the Leeway Foundation and is one of the founding cultural agents for the citizen-run U.S. Department of Arts and Culture.
Wisher lives in Philadelphia.