Local poets celebrate Philadelphia Poetry Day with reading on Maplewood Mall

To celebrate Philadelphia Poetry Day, Germantown residents and poetic-minded supporters gathered around a Vox amplifier barely bigger than a lunchbox near Maplewood Mall’s Greene Street entrance on a Saturday afternoon that featured clear, sunny skies.

Yolanda Wisher, a Germantown poet and Philadelphia Mural Arts Program art-education director, emceed the event, which was organized by Germantown Artists Roundtable.

She got things started by reading a section from Amiri Baraka’s “Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note,” the Newark, N.J. poet’s first published piece. 

Local participants

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Adrienne Morrison, an 80-year-old retired biology/science teacher who lives on School House Lane, read a poem she wrote about the life of a cell. It’s called “Cell Speak.

“I, from the beginning, am part of forever,” went Morrison’s opening stanza.

She shared that she wrote the poem more than 20 years ago in an effort to educate her former students at Widener Memorial School.

“Every sentence is the function of a cell, from coming from an atom until death,” Morrison said.

Although Milena Belasco is a cook by trade at Mt. Airy’s Geechee Girl Rice Café, she grew up immersed in Germantown and the arts. 

Belasco, who lives in Blue Bell, read “The Journey” by Mary Oliver to a crowd that included her father Leonard, a local jazz musician, English teacher and poet.

“My creativity comes out in what I do, which is cooking right now,” Belasco said.

Upcoming open-mic event

Victoria Huggins Peurifoy, a self-published author who has lived in Germantown for 28 years, read a poem based on her own experiences of petty quarreling.

”Divine bloodlines should not be met with rumors and lies,” said Peurifoy, who started writing poetry in the early 1970s, when she was hardly 18 years old, and in love.

Though that love would be fleeting, poetry remained close to her heart. She sharpened her lyrical craft while working as an Internal Revenue Service auditor until her retirement in 2007.

“I wrote all the time,” said Peurifoy, who will host a poetry open-mic night at Center in the Park, 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. “I would write parodies using the jargon of the job.” 

Peurifoy has already published a book of poetry and an autobiography. She said that her next poetry book, “Run Between The Rain Drops,” is due in November.

Philadelphia Poetry Day’s Germantown component began with a haiku poetry workshop at Rose Petals Cafe on West Chelten Avenue; that Saturday morning gathering was led by Wisher and Michelle Nzadi Keita.

Clarification: This story was updated to reflect which group organized the event and Leonard Belaso’s field of teaching.

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