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Oct 15 Small Hex A small hex for dates on Apiary Magazine's website.

Poets Bill of Rites/Rights by Yolanda Wisher

Philadelphia's Poet Laureate, Yolanda Wisher, asked the community what essential rights a poet should hold self-evident. The answers she received weave together to form a powerful assertion of artistic agency in her new poem POETS BILL OF RITES/RIGHTS, presented at the Monument to a Philadelphia Poet event staged by Mural Arts as part of the ongoing Monument Lab public art and history project. We'll be sharing more work by more poets from this outstanding event in the weeks to come!

(Want to celebrate Philly poets in person this month? Next week, check out the DAY OF THE POET 20TH ANNIVERSARY spoken word festival at the Painted Bride Arts Center on Oct 20th!)

poets have r.i.t.e.s.

poets have r.i.g.h.t.s.

the rite to make monuments

the right to be monuments

to have their names in lights

to water & to podiums or no podiums

to pop their ps

to literally or figuratively drop the mic


poets have the right to compete & not to compete

to date other poets & to avoid dating other poets

to be paid for opening their mouths

to barter and sell their books for whatever they deem worthy

to ask for more money than you offer

to be compensated fairly for their craft & emotional labor

by releasing deeply personal parts of themselves on the page & stage

to not be discounted like merchandise in filene's basement

to be treated like every other artist you hire

not be intermission or ornament

to be funded

form organizations

to teach children

to be authorities on the english language & all derivatives thereof

to create their own grammar & undiagram their sentences

poets have the right to hate your favorite word

the right to judge your tired ass clichés


poets have the right to cuss

to say fuck trump

to talk shit & be unapologetic about it

to be weird, loud, & political

to deliver the message to the people

without pretty words to please the masses

to express their heart whether you are in agreement with them or not

to wear capes & funny hats

to use sidewalk chalk, sharpies & fancy pens

to break any rule of poetry they want

to read from the page or the screen or the mind

to free verse from its binds

to dream (for without the dreaming of poets

our world would have no music and no pathway home)

to see many dimensions of truth at once

& to tell it unfettered by censors' nonsense

that bright-sight truth undimmed and unshackled, free

a poet has the right to be free


poets have the right to say the unsaid

to show what is hard to see through raw imagery

to express a reality of life that takes everything—courage, word painting and grit.

to be titled and respected as a poet and not spoken word artist unless otherwise notified

to say, "oh, no -- i haven't read her" without fear of scorn

to writer's block

to self-poetservation

to be entrepreneurial with our craft

to feel safe in poetry spaces & to operate outside of capital structures

to feel feels

to write from our bodies

to be mothers

to be loners

to be happy

to be entirely unpoetic & mundane

to clip coupons

to join the pta

to suffer back spasms & bunions

to binge watch

to harbor secret, celebrity crushes & read fifty shades of grey (without apology)

to exercise their true, original voices despite expectation & judgment

to evolve, grow at any pace, develop into a whole new artist

& not be reprimanded for "changing"

to stay in when they "should" be going out

we, the poets, have a right to be anthologized, democratized,

idolized, vocalized, interiorized, memorized, monetized,

organized or disorganized, proselytized, realized

to heal ancient hates with transcendent heart illuminations

write the "i" & "me" stories reflecting a wider narrative

envision infinite solutions for ever present obstacles

bring that which is shadowed & secret into the light

to tell it like it is without any validation, letting experience & perspective speak for herself

or to remain silent (anything poets say can

& will be used against them in a court of ignorance)

we the poets have a right to speak to a higher order

& to have a higher order present during any questioning

to speak strongly for the momentarily weak

to break barriers

to dissolve divisions

to praise the humbled

to acknowledge the forgotten

to live, write, read, recite outside the box

to plumb the depths of the unconscious mind (even if nobody gets it)

to rhyme & not to rhyme

to disturb & to question over & again

poets have a right to too many moments

of the infinite verse rite & the telling penned

a right to create the rite that reveals

the unseen & unsaid right

a right to be imperfect

a right & a need to fail

a right to much-love

Compiled & arranged by Yolanda Wisher with contributions via Facebook, September 13-16, 2017 from Courtney K. Bambrick, Julietta Bekker, Gabrielle de Burke, Andrea Butler, Kara Cochran, Craig Czury, Christy Davids, Carl S. Herzog, Yvette Angelique Hyater-Adams, Monique Gordon, Nicole Greaves, Darla Himeles, Jaz, Donna DeTommaso Kleinert, Autumn Stephens Konopka, Sue Landers, Trapeta Mayson, Burrett McBee, Carol Richardson McCullough, Pat McLean-Smith, Aleasha Watson Mitchell, Renny Molenaar, Emily Nussdorfer, Emmett Phillips, Victoria Huggins Peurifoy, Stu Stuart, Kirwyn Sutherland, J.C. Todd, Aliya Vance-Randolph, DJ Watson & Debra Wright. For the “Monument to the Philadelphia Poet” event, 9.27.17 


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