I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed
From Langston Hughes’ “I, Too”
We (Too) Are Philly is a summer poetry festival organized by the 2018-2019 Poet Laureate of Philadelphia, Raquel Salas Rivera, and poets Ashley Davis, Kirwyn Sutherland, and Raena Shirali. It is inspired by Langston Hughes’ poem “I, Too” and features a line-up of poets of color who have a strong commitment to fighting white supremacy and collaborating with local communities to create shared creative spaces.
Poets will come from all over, but each featured poet will be from Philadelphia. We believe that highlighting local authors will serve to raise and respect the histories of those who have built this city.
Each reading will also feature at least one poet that works in more than one language. This is a sanctuary city; this festival is a sanctuary space. ICE and fascism have no right to terrorize our loved ones; our authors’ works maintain that truth.
We aspire to have not just poets of color performing, but also POC audiences. Historically, there has been a racial power dynamic in which white audiences consume black and brown art. This is not that kind of festival.
Get ready for some kinda beauty,
Raquel Salas Rivera
Raquel Salas Rivera is the 2018-19 Poet Laureate of Philadelphia. Their work has appeared in journals such as the Revista del Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, Apogee, BOAAT, Círculo de Poesía, Cosmonauts Ave, Waxwing, Dreginald, and the Boston Review. They are the author of Caneca de anhelos turbios (Editora Educación Emergente), oropel/tinsel (Lark Books), and tierra intermitente (Ediciones Alayubia). Their book lo terciario/the tertiary is forthcoming in 2018 from Timeless, Infinite Light. Currently, they are Co-editor of The Wanderer, and Co-editor of Puerto Rico en mi corazón, a collection of bilingual broadsides of contemporary Puerto Rican poets.
Ashley Davis is a California native, New York educated, Boston bred, Philly based black bi-racial, queer, femme, poet, educator who writes and collaborates on projects about the intersectionality of those identities, the history of trauma within those communities, and the importance/necessity of healing within those communities. Her work is always personal and performed with the intention to connect to those around her in order to build community and continue healing. Ashley was a part of the VONA 2017 cohort facilitated by Patricia Smith, was a part of the 2016 Finalist team “House Slam” at the National Poetry Slam, and was a finalist for the 2016 National Underground Individual Poetry Competition. She currently lives with her grandmother and great-grandmother in North Philly, connecting to her spirit guides, learning her craft, and protecting her energy.
Kirwyn Sutherland is a Poet and Clinical Researcher whose work seeks to interrogate and push up against systems of oppression that subjugate black people while constructing a future blackness which is personal, vulnerable, aware, and ready. Kirwyn is a fellow of The Watering Hole Poetry Retreat and his work has been published in APIARY Magazine, Drunkinamidnightchoir, BlueShift Journal and Bedfellows Magazine. Kirwyn has served as Poetry editor for APIARY Magazine and is currently serving as Book Reviewer for WusGood Magazine and a reader for Gigantic Sequins Magazine.
Raena Shirali is the author of GILT (YesYes Books, 2017). A Pushcart Prize recipient, Shirali’s honors include a Philip Roth Residency at Bucknell University’s Stadler Center for Poetry, a Gulf Coast Poetry Prize, a Cosmonauts Avenue Poetry Prize, & a “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize. Born in Houston, Texas, & raised in Charleston, South Carolina, the Indian American poet earned her MFA from The Ohio State University. She currently serves as a poetry reader for Muzzle Magazine and works for a literacy outreach nonprofit in Philadelphia.