Yolanda Wisher’s Rent Party at the Rosenbach

Event Phone: (215) 732-1600

Registration Price Qty
General Admissionshow details + $25.00 (USD)  
Student Admissionshow details + $15.00 (USD)  
Member Admissionshow details + $12.50 (USD)  
Delancey Society Admissionshow details + $0.00 (USD)  

Date / Time

  • September 25, 2019
    7:00 pm - 8:30 pm


2008-2010 Delancey Place, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19103, United States

The sixth edition of Yolanda Wisher’s Rent Party at the Rosenbach will highlight the Rosenbach’s copy of René Maran’s 1921 novel Batouala. Maran, a French Guyanese poet, was the first Black writer to win France’s esteemed Prix Goncourt literary prize. A product of the New Negro and Negritude movements, the novel was so groundbreaking in its critique of French colonialism through the eyes of Africans that it was banned from the French colonies in 1928. Featured poets will respond to the content and form of Batouala, the story of a love triangle, and Yolanda Wisher and The Afroeaters will perform parts of the novel as a jazz text.

The tradition of the rent party dates back to the Harlem Renaissance, when communal gatherings of artists and musicians fed the outpouring of blues, jazz, and poetry for which the era is celebrated. Hosted and curated by poet Yolanda Wisher, this quarterly series toasts the literary past with readings by contemporary and music performed by Wisher’s band, the Afroeaters.

About Yolanda Wisher’s Rent Party at the Rosenbach

Yolanda Wisher’s Rent Party at the Rosenbach invokes the tradition of the rent party dating back to the Harlem Renaissance, when communal gatherings of artists fed an outpouring of blues, jazz, and poetry. Rent parties were some of the original house parties. Guests would pay a small fee for homespun food, prohibited drink and live entertainment. Sometimes a piano was hauled up a few flights of stairs for the occasion. While they were designed to help the host pay their rent with the help of a few friends spreading the word, the ancestral rent parties were also incubators of cultural innovation.

Curated and hosted by Philadelphia Poet Laureate Emerita Yolanda Wisher, each Rent Party features readings by contemporary poets from different schools of thought and craft in addition to a performance Wisher and her band The Afroeaters, reviving a vintage work of jazz poetry or premiering a new work inspired by The Rosenbach’s collection. The series is an ongoing love letter to the literary past, often focusing on a writer whose work has been lost, forgotten, or misunderstood. Previous rent parties have highlighted the poetry of The Black Opals collective, a group of young African Americans writing in Philadelphia during the 1920s; the legacy of Phillis Wheatley, the first published African American poet; and Ask Your Mama, a jazz poem composed by Langston Hughes.

About Performances at the Rosenbach

From adaptations of beloved classics from page to stage to interactive performances inspired by great literature, experience theatrical arts in an intimate setting.

  • Seating is limited; advance registration is strongly recommended
  • A specialty cocktail is included with admission