Yolanda Wisher’s Rent Party at the Rosenbach: Black Beats Edition

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Date / Time

  • February 20, 2020
    7:00 pm - 8:30 pm


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

The 7th edition of Yolanda Wisher’s Rent Party at The Rosenbach invites you to join a copacetic caravan with the Black Beats – poets of African descent who were part of the Beat poetry movement of the 1940s and 1950s. Like Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the Black Beats inspired avant garde, countercultural and spiritual revolutions. The evening will highlight the lives and voices of Amiri Baraka, Jayne Cortez, Ted Joans, and Bob Kaufman–four Black Beats who performed along the continuum of poetry and music and carved out legacies of radical art and action.

Poet Warren Longmire will read from his work and vocussionist Bethlehem will deliver a performance on her tarima/platform drum. Yolanda Wisher and the Afroeaters will conclude the evening with a special set of Beat poetry classics against bebop backdrops.


About The Performers

Warren Longmire is a writer, a software engineer, and an educator from the bad part of North Philadelphia. He is the co-founder of the Excelano Project Spoken Word Collective, the Director of Poetry Events for Blue Stoop, and Program Manager for the Nick Virgilio Writers House In Camden. You can find his writing in the American Poetry Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Eleven Eleven, The New Purlieu Review, and on his instagram @alongmirewriter.

A Philadelphia native, Bethlehem has been singing since she was a child – by herself and vocalizing with her musical cousins. Performing around the region for over 15 years, Bethlehem is an in-demand professional who has worked with numerous Philly artists and musicians and sung in churches and cafes as well as notable venues/events such as The Kimmel Center, TEDx Philadelphia, Sistah’s Attune, and The Philadelphia Jazz Project.


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.


Sponsored by Betsey Gemmill


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