The sixth edition of Yolanda Wisher’s Rent Party at the Rosenbach will highlight the Rosenbach’s copy of René Maran’s 1921 novel Batouala. Maran, a poet from Martinique, was the first Black writer to win France’s esteemed Prix Goncourt literary prize. A product of the New Negro and Negritude movements, the novel was so groundbreaking in its critique of French colonialism through the eyes of Africans that it was banned from the French colonies in 1928. Featured poets will respond to the content and form of Batouala, the story of a love triangle, and Yolanda Wisher and The Afroeaters will perform parts of the novel as a jazz text.
The tradition of the rent party dates back to the Harlem Renaissance, when communal gatherings of artists and musicians fed the outpouring of blues, jazz, and poetry for which the era is celebrated. Hosted and curated by poet Yolanda Wisher, this quarterly series toasts the literary past with readings by contemporary and music performed by Wisher’s band, the Afroeaters.