Outbound Poetry Festival

Pop-up readings presented by Philadelphia Contemporary
Curated by Yolanda Wisher

To have great poets there must be great audiences.
Walt Whitman

Poetry is happening–in passing, en route, parenthetically, and unexpectedly. Join us in April at 30th Street Station as poets laureate from up and down the East Coast celebrate the serendipity of poetry. Slam poets, page poets, teaching poets, jazz poets, and people’s poets, including Otter Jung-Allen (Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate) and The Twin Poets (Delaware State Poets Laureate), will deliver daily rhapsodies to the citizens of Philadelphia and riff along the continuum of poetry and song in an extended Saturday performance.

Free and open to all–commuters, passersby, and serious poetry aficionados–the readings will take place in 30th Street’s South Waiting Room every weekday afternoon at 4:52 pm, from April 10 – 21. On Saturday, April 15 join us at 2:35 pm for a joyous mix of poetry and acoustic music. The festival will kick-off with a reading and book signing by Yolanda Wisher at Ulises on Sunday, April 9 at 4:07 pm.

The program is curated by Yolanda Wisher in collaboration with Philadelphia Contemporary.

Visit the Image Gallery for this project.

Week 1

+ Mon. 4/10 The Twin Poets

Al Mills and Nnamdi Chukwuocha, the Twin Poets, are native Wilmingtonians, poets, community activists, veterans, and master social workers. Gov. Jack Markell appointed the Twin Poets as the 17th Poets Laureate of Delaware on December 17, 2015. As the state’s Poets Laureate, the Twin Poets have focused on incorporating poetry/spoken word and creative writing programming into schools, libraries and community centers; introducing poetry as a tool for transformation within youth detention centers and adult correctional facilities; utilizing the poetic art form to strengthen the healing and support process for veterans, especially those suffering from PTSD; and taking poetry/spoken word and creative writing into communities of need to assist with addressing gun violence.

+ Tue. 4/11 Greg Corbin

Philadelphia native Greg Corbin Jr. is an award-winning international poet, motivational speaker, activist, ​educator​, humanitarian, strategist, culture shifter, Lincoln University grad, ​and founder of the Award Winning Philly Youth Poetry Movement, an organization that provides a safe space for Philadelphia teens to discover the power of their voices through spoken word and literary expression. Corbin is currently serving as the program director for the Social Justice Leadership Institute for the American Friends Service Committee. A prominent community leader with extensive experience working with and mentoring youth throughout Philadelphia and beyond, Corbin has been featured at schools, conferences, festivals, and venues across the country, as well as on HBO, BET, CNN, and TED Talks. He has shared the stage with Nikki Giovanni, Mos Def, Bilal, Sonia Sanchez, Common, and many others. Corbin is dedicated to providing youth with resources for sustainable lifelong learning, self-advocacy, and the ability to become social change agents who will mold the future. Corbin currently serves on the Mayor’s Commission for African American Males and the Philadelphia Poet Laureate Governing Committee. In 2015, Corbin was voted one of Philadelphia’s most influential people in The Philadelphia.

+ Wed. 4/12 Michelle Myers

Michelle Myers is an award-winning spoken word poet, community activist, and educator. As a founding member of Yellow Rage, an Asian American female spoken word poetry group, Michelle has appeared on HBO’s Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry, in the first live Def Poetry Jam show presented at the HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colorado, and in the Def Poetry Jam College Tour. She is also a two-time Emmy nominated TV show host for Community College of Philadelphia’s spoken word poetry competition show Drop the Mic. As a solo performance artist, Michelle has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including a Transformation Award and Art and Change Grant by the Leeway Foundation and a Spoken Word Immersion Fellowship Honorable Mention by The Loft Literary Center. Michelle has also featured at hundreds of college campuses as well as at many distinguished venues around the country, including the Painted Bride Arts Center, the Bowery Poetry Club, the Asian American Writers Workshop, the Asian Arts Initiative, the Kennedy Center, the Loft Literary Center, the Sierra Arts Foundation, the Japanese American National Museum, and the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience. A professional spoken word poet for 16 years, Michelle draws from her personal experiences as a biracial Korean American woman to write poetry that challenges mainstream misconceptions of Asianness and explores the intersections of race, culture, gender, community, and self.

+ Thu. 4/13 Patrick Rosal

Patrick Rosal is the author of four full-length collections of poetry, including his latest, Brooklyn Antediluvian, which was a finalist for The Kingsley Tufts Award for Poetry. A former Senior Fulbright Research Fellow, his work has appeared in The New York Times, Grantland, Harvard Review, Tin House, The Best American Poetry and dozens of other magazines and anthologies. He has been a featured performer in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean and hundreds of venues throughout the United States. He is a 2017 Guggenheim fellow and Associate Professor at the MFA Program of Rutgers University-Camden.

+ Fri. 4/14 Frank Sherlock

Frank Sherlock is the author of Life Is to Blame for Everything, Space Between These Lines Not Dedicated, Over Here, The City Real & Imagined (w/ CAConrad) and a collaboration with Brett Evans entitled Ready-to-Eat Individual. Poems beyond the page have found their forms in installations/performances/exhibitions, including “Organize Your Own: The Politics & Poetics of Self-Determination.” He is a 2013 Pew Fellow and 2014-15 Poet Laureate of the City of Philadelphia.

Week 2 

+ Mon. 4/17 Denice Frohman

Denice Frohman is an award-winning poet, writer, performer, and educator. She is the 2013 Women of the World Poetry Slam Champion, 2014 CantoMundo Fellow, and 2012 Leeway Transformation Award recipient. Her work has appeared in ESPN, the Huffington Post, and Jotas: An Anthology of Queer Latina Voices. Her poem “Dear Straight People” went viral with over 2 million views. She’s worked with over 200 colleges and universities; hundreds of high schools and cultural arts spaces; and performed at The White House in 2016. She is also one of the organizers at The Philly Youth Poetry Movement.

+ Tue. 4/18 Jacob Winterstein

Jacob Winterstein is a poet, host, teaching artist, and event producer. He has traveled to twenty-four countries and always comes home to Philadelphia where he was born, raised and educated. Jacob has represented Philadelphia at the National Poetry Slam, The Individual World Poetry Slam, the Red Bull Word Clash Poetry Competition, and is a winner of the Philadelphia Poet VS MC freestyle competition. He has taught poetry, performance and improvisational rapping (freestyling) since 2006 at schools, universities, community centers and jails. He is the co-founder of The Philly Pigeon Poetry Slam, a Philadelphia Magazine Best of Philly 2012 winner and a Knight Foundation Arts Challenge 2013 winner. He is also the co-director of Camp Bonfire, a summer camp for adults.

+ Wed. 4/19 Otter Jung-Allen

Otter Jung-Allen is a seventeen year old poet and performer from West Philly. Currently, they are in twelfth grade, coach of Science Leadership Academy’s Slam League team, the 2015 Brave New Voices International Champion, the 2015 Liberty Unplugged Champion, and the 2016-17 Youth Poet Laureate of the City of Philadelphia.

+ Thu. 4/20 Ursula Rucker

Ursula Rucker is a Philadelphia born poet, mother, activist, and recording artist. She has been performing, recording and releasing works for over 20 years. Ursula has traveled and toured extensively, throughout North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Africa…sharing her poetry…her heart and soul. She is dedicated to art as/for social change…and committed to freedom fighting, truth-telling and peace-(and a little trouble 😉 making through her chosen art form. Ursula believes in taking her art as far as it can go…whether it be through teaching, activism, lecturing, conducting workshops, merging it with music and recording or rocking mics and stages. To date, Ursula has released five solo albums (Supa Sista, Silver or Lead, ma’at mama, Ruckus Soundsysdom, SHE SAID)…as well as collaborated on over 100 songs, in a wide array of musical genres, with producers/artists from around the world (such as King Britt, Bahamadia, The Roots, 4 Hero, Jazzanova, Louie Vega, Incognito). Ursula was awarded both the Leeway Foundation’s Art for Change & Transformation Awards. She is the feature of a documentary short called POET. Last year, she successfully premiered her first one-woman show/live memoir My Father’s Daughter and is touring with it. Currently, Ursula is working on her 6th solo album and planning her first book project.

+ Fri. 4/21 Yolanda Wisher

A champion of poetry and education, Yolanda Wisher is the 3rd Poet Laureate of the City of Philadelphia. She has been a beneficiary of and a force within Philadelphia’s poetry scene for the past two decades, promoting poetry as a public, healing, and activist art. Wisher uses her platform to speak on the African American experience and the complexities of womanhood. The author of Monk Eats an Afro and co-editor of the anthology Peace is a Haiku Song, she is a sought-after teaching artist and consultant who shares her poetry and pedagogy at schools and universities and leads workshops and residencies with youth and adults in a variety of settings. She performs a unique blend of poetry and song with her bands The Quick Fixx and The Afroeaters, and her writings have been featured widely in a variety of media including CBC Radio, Contemporary Black Canvas, GOOD Magazine, Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora, PennSound, The Philadelphia Citizen, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Ploughshares, and PoetryNow. Her work has been commissioned by Historic Germantown, First Person Arts, the Institute for Contemporary Art, and the Philadelphia Jazz Project. Wisher holds a B.A. in English and Black Studies from Lafayette College and an M.A. in Creative Writing/Poetry from Temple University. She was the inaugural Montgomery County Pennsylvania Poet Laureate (1999), a Cave Canem Fellow (1999-2001), Leeway Art and Change Award Grantee (2008), Center for Performance and Civic Practice Catalyst Initiative Grantee (2015-16), Pew Fellow (2015), Hedgebrook Writer-in-Residence (2016), and Knight Foundation Cities Challenge Finalist (2017).

Sat. 4/15
An extended afternoon of poetry & music

+ Bethlehem & Sad Patrick

Bethlehem and Sad Patrick blend her strong, soulful vocals and unique percussion with his sparse, melodic playing and nuanced songwriting to create powerful songs and their own unique sound. Bethlehem is a singer, songwriter, and percussionist who was described as “Germantown’s next rising star” by WHYY/NewsWorks Philadelphia after the release of her first solo album, “Bigger Than Music”. Sad Patrick is a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who was kicked out of the Calliope School of Folk Music when he started using “jazz” chords in protest songs. Together, Bethlehem and Sad Patrick create powerful songs of love and other struggles and deliver them in compelling performances.

+ Trapeta Mayson & Monnette Sudler

Trapeta B. Mayson is a dynamic poet, workshop leader and educator. A native of Liberia, Trapeta grew up in Philadelphia. She has worked extensively with young people and adults in educational, artistic and institutional settings conducting poetry and creative writing workshops and residencies. She has received numerous literary awards and fellowships including a 2002 Pew Fellowship, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Grants, 2007 Leeway Transformation Award, and a 2014 Leeway Art and Change grant. Trapeta is a Cave Canem and Callaloo Fellow. Her chapbook, She Was Once Herself, was released in 2012. Trapeta’s work has also been published in The American Poetry Review, Aesthetica Creative Works Annual Review, and Lavanderia, to name a few. A licensed clinical social worker, Trapeta has also earned her MBA. She is a graduate of Temple University, Bryn Mawr Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, and Villanova University School of Business.

Grammy nominated composer/jazz guitarist/vocalist/band leader Monnette Sudler is also known as the “First Lady of Jazz Guitar.” Ms Sudler began playing in the tradition of avant garde jazz with drummer Sunny Murray, David Murray, Khan Jamal/Sound of Liberation, and Byard Lancaster. Sudler has also played with Hugh Masekela, Grover Washington Jr., poets Sonia Sanchez & Trapeta Mayson, Odean Pope, Steve Turre, and Kirk Waylum, among others. Monnette is a graduate of Temple University College of Music. She is featured on dozens of CDs, including her highly acclaimed Other Side of the Gemini, featuring Grover Washington and Reggie Workman. Founder of the Monnette Sudler’s Philadelphia Guitar Summit, Sudler brings national and international master guitarists to Philadelphia/Montgomery County stages, “fusing guitar styles one string at a time.” She is the recipient of the Leeway Transformation and Art and Change Awards, awards from the American Composers Forum, the Kimmel Center Jazz Residency grant 2015, the 2012 and 2013 Clef Club Guitarist of the Year Awards, and Senator Hughes’ Jazz Legacy Award 2016. Monnette recently completed scoring for RetroLove, a theatrical collaboration with poet Beth Brandt, funded by the Philadelphia Jazz Project. Monnette is featured in Great Jazz Guitarists: The Ultimate Guide by Scott Yanow and Growing up with Jazz by Royals Stokes. This year, Monnette Sudler published her first music book, Motif Mojo, an instructional guide and workbook for the development of improvisation.

+ Yolanda Wisher & Mark Palacio

Poet, vocalist, and educator, Yolanda Wisher is the 2016-2017 Poet Laureate of the City of Philadelphia. The author of Monk Eats an Afro and the co-editor of Peace is a Haiku Song, Wisher’s work has been published and performed widely. She is a 2016 Hedgebrook Writer-in-Residence, 2015 Pew Fellow, Center for Performance and Civic Practice Catalyst Initiative grantee (2015), Leeway Art & Change Award recipient (2008), and the inaugural Montgomery County Pennsylvania Poet Laureate (1999). Wisher founded and directed the Germantown Poetry Festival (2006-2010), served as Director of Art Education for the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program (2010-2015), and worked as a Cultural Agent and Chief Rhapsodist of Wherewithal for the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture (2014-2016).

Mark Palacio has been teaching children and playing the doublebass in Philadelphia for over two decades. Now a fifth/sixth grade teacher at the Miquon School, his adventures in K thru 12 teaching have included positions at Greenfield Elementary and Germantown Friends School. He is a co-founder of the Germantown Poetry Festival and co-host of umüvme (you-move-me), a poetry show on Gtown Radio. A largely self-taught musician, he has studied with several of Philly’s jazz luminaries including Trudy Pitts, Larry McKenna, James “Hicks” Glenn, and Tyrone Brown.

Yolanda and Mark met at a Philly open mic in 1999, got married in 2006, and had a kid named Thelonious in 2009.

+ Tracie Morris & Jerome Harris

Tracie Morris is a poet and vocalist who works in multiple media. She has performed extensively around the world. Her sound installations have been presented at numerous institutions including Dia: Chelsea, The Kitchen Performance Space, The Museum of Modern Art and The Whitney Biennial. Her most recent poetry collection, handholding: 5 kinds, was published by Kore Press in 2016 with a series of 17 audio tracks. She is co-editor of Best American Experimental Writing 2016 with Charles Bernstein, published by Wesleyan University Press. Tracie holds an MFA in poetry from Hunter College and a PhD in Performance Studies from New York University. A former fellow of Creative Writing at the University of Pennsylvania, Tracie has taught at many prestigious academies and is the founding Professor and Coordinator of Performance and Performance Studies at Pratt Institute, New York.

Bass guitarist Jerome Harris was raised in Brooklyn, New York, where he experienced a broad range of traditional and popular American music genres, including blues, folk and gospel. After majoring in psychology and social relations at Harvard University, Harris became an honors student in jazz guitar at New England Conservatory of Music. He has recorded and/or toured with Sonny Rollins, Jack DeJohnette, Don Byron, Paul Motian, Bill Frisell, Marty Ehrlich, and Julius Hemphill, among many others; his international touring includes trips to south Asia and eastern Africa under the auspices of the U.S. State Department’s “Jazz Ambassadors” program. Harris appears on over fifty recordings; his albums as leader include Rendezvous (Stereophile) and Hidden In Plain View (New World). His essay “Jazz on the Global Stage,” published in The African Diaspora: A Musical Perspective (Ingrid Monson, editor; Garland, 2000), explores the history, present state, and future implications of the spread of jazz to locales far from its African American birthplace.


Yolanda Wisher. Image by Ryan Collerd, 2015.

Yolanda Wisher is the 3rd Poet Laureate of Philadelphia. The author of Monk Eats an Afro (Hanging Loose Press, 2014), Wisher is a 2015 Pew Fellow and a 2016 Hedgebrook Writer-in-Residence. Wisher founded and directed the Germantown Poetry Festival (2006-2010) and served as Director of Art Education for the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program (2010-2015). She currently works as Chief Rhapsodist of Wherewithal for the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture.


The Outbound Poetry Festival is kindly supported by Amtrak, The City of Philadelphia’s Poet Laureate Program, Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing, The Kelly Writers House, Temple University’s Creative Writing Program and Ulises.