The Sunday Edition

Seeing Philadelphia through the eyes of poet laureate Yolanda Wisher

Michael Enright tours the historic Germantown neighbourhood of Philadelphia with the city's poet laureate.
A view of Germantown Avenue on which every buildings was painted by Dutch artists Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn (aka Haas & Hahn) as part of a special project in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, January 19, 2013. (EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

Phildelphia is one of the oldest and most historically significant cities in the United States. It's the city of Benjamin Franklin, the City of Brotherly Love, and the crucible of the American ideal of liberty and independence. 

That's one Philadelphia — with stately avenues and squares paved with cobblestones, where the houses were once home to founders of the nation and slaves alike. Then there are the Philadelphias that delegates to the Democratic National Convention wouldn't have seen — some of the poorest urban areas in the United States. 

I would say there's multiple Philadelphias. There's people who are living in the past Philadelphia, and there's people who are trying to envision what the future could look like.- Yolanda Wisher 

Yolanda Wisher, the poet laureate of Philadelphia, and her husband, Mark Palacio, took us on a drive down Germantown Avenue, the artery that winds through the proud Philadelphias of history and affluence and the hidden Philadelphias of entrenched poverty.

Wisher is also the founder and director of the Germantown Poetry Festival, and she's the author of a poetry collection called Monk Eats An Afro.

Yolanda Wisher, Philadelphia's poet laureate, took Michael Enright on a tour of the historic Germantown neighbourhood of Philadelphia when Michael was in Philadelphia to cover the Democratic Convention in July, 2016. (Talin Vartanian)

Click the button above to hear Yolanda Wisher's tour of Philadelphia and an excerpt from her poem, "Notes from a Slave Ship."


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.