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WRITE YOUR BLOCK

Poetry selection from Philadelphia Poet Laureate Frank Sherlock

2015

A Citywide Poetry Project Write Your Block was a project developed by City of Philadelphia Poet Laureate Frank Sherlock to give Philadelphians the opportunity to explore their neighborhoods via poetry. With support from Creative Philadelphia - the City of Philadelphia Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, people citywide were encouraged to use poetry to map the personal landmarks, histories, traditions and experiences with which they identified their communities. This was a unique chance for Philadelphians to preserve memories, connections, and to shape the city as their own poem. Write Your Block asked people of all ages to map out their immediate surroundings according to their own experiences. In neighborhoods all over Philadelphia, people had the opportunity to share the city as they saw it. Creative Philadelphia worked with community partners to facilitate and promote events during which neighbors could gather, wander, and reconvene to put their path and thoughts to paper. For those unable to make it to an event in their area or who wanted to participate on their own time with a group of friends, a toolkit was available online for selfguided activities. We asked everyone to share their poems with the rest of the Write Your Block community online at creativephl.org/writeyourblock. .

Photo by Tony Fischer, used under CC-BY-2.0

Project Inspiration The project was inspired by The City Real and Imagined (Heretical Texts/Factory School, 2010), a collaborative work from Sherlock and CAConrad. The two poets wandered the city, using poetry to map their path and articulate their interaction with urban space.

The book-length project is a testament to public space defined beyond official landmarks and conventional architecture. The idea of a city is activated by the imaginations of those who gather for mutual purpose. The purpose of Write Your Block was to give voice to the diverse and distinct Philadelphias we experience, not defined by architecture or physical landmarks alone, but activated and informed by our own lives & imaginations. Whether you are versed in verse, a street rhymer or have yet to write your first poemevery Philadelphian has stories & memories connected to a shared neighborhood experience just waiting to be documented.

13th Street. His focus charted the thoroughfare that cuts through the center of the city during a time of changing demographics and gentrification. The structured locality and site-specific writing of thirteen was one method of cartography. Searching for new ways of experiencing the space he lived in led to exploring new forms to document Philadelphia life. There are as many methods of poem-mapping as there are neighborhoods in Philadelphia. Frank Sherlock wants to guide you toward developing your own way to map your neighborhood - to Write Your Block.

About Frank Sherlock

Photo by Heather Raquel Phillips

Frank Sherlock is Philadelphia's second Poet Laureate (2014-2015). His work is concerned with new ways of seeing urban space. As a native of Southwest Philadelphia, Sherlock experienced city life as shifting scapes of deterioration, as well as pop-up constructions of new environments. When he Poem-mapping realized his calling as a poet, he Poem-mapping charts the impact searched for ways to articulate his individuals both past & present have Philadelphia experience. In order to find a form for this type of The collaboration was an act of on the streets where they live. psychogeography: exploring the Sherlock’s first method of mapping discovery, he came to embrace the notion of the poet as a city in ways that spark new through poetry was a long poem called thirteen. The piece was cartographer, or mapmaker awareness to our surroundings. written in thirteen sections. Each Sherlock is also a 2013 Pew was written on a different corner of Fellow in the Arts for literature.

Write Your Block Poetry Selections  

Write Your Block is a citywide poetry project developed by 2014-2015 Philadelphia Poet Laureate Frank Sherlock to encourage Philadelphians t...

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