Center City coffee shop features local poet's work in unique way through public poetry project

Coffee sleeves at Elixr feature a poet of the month. April features an excerpt from Eleanor Wilner's poem called "The Mulch."

Matt O'Donnell Image
Thursday, April 13, 2023
Local poet sharing work in unique way through public poetry project
Local poets are sharing their works in a unique way at a Philadelphia coffee shop that will leave you feeling fulfilled both inside and out.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- If you need a pick-me-up, Elixr Coffee offers a lift for your body and soul with a public poetry project called Heart on Your Sleeve at their Center City Philadelphia location.

Coffee sleeves at Elixr feature a poet of the month, so each coffee comes with a poem.

"We asked each poet to think about the theme of care and renewal," says Molly Gross, co-curator of the Heart on Your Sleeve project.

This month you can drink in poet Eleanor Wilner's words, with an excerpt from her poem called "The Mulch" featured on the sleeve. She says the excerpt describes a lotus flower and captures how "everything beautiful grows from the mud."

Wilner, a teacher and award-winning poet, has written many collections of poetry. The excerpt from "The Mulch" came from her book called, "Otherwise."

"It is others who make us wise. Otherwise, we are so limited," explains Wilner.

Gross co-curated the six-month project with Ryan Strand Greenberg for Elixr Coffee's art program which is celebrating its tenth anniversary.

"We have six poets and three visual artists as part of the project," says Strand Greenberg. "Everybody that participated in the project is from Philly."

"The idea is to have a nice, surprising, delightful way to interact with an art form - poetry," adds Gross.

Wilner says she loved Gross' focus on "creative work and bringing communities together and collaborating with other people to promote equity."

She met West African-born Sojourner Ahebee through the project. Ahebee is also a poet whose work was featured as part of the Heart on Your Sleeve project.

"I've been really interested in African American women's history," says Ahebee.

Wilner called Ahebee "a gifted woman" since reading her work.

"I've learned a lot from her voice," says Wilner.

"One of the delights has honestly been a lot of the multi-generational connections," says Ahebee of the project.

She says she grew up in Philadelphia and attended a lot of poetry readings over the years.

"And I'm so indebted to the people who went out of the way to create those spaces for younger poets to come up in," says Ahebee.

Wilner says an important part of the Heart on Your Sleeve project is "making poetry public and accessible."

"I hope that people see how poetry and words can move things inside of us and change beliefs," says Ahebee.

"It's a good project," says Wilner.

There are shirts for sale at Elixr in Center City Philadelphia, so you can literally wear your heart on your sleeve. A portion of those proceeds will benefit Harriett's Bookshop.

The Heart on Your Sleeve project runs through April 2023.

For more information:

Elixr Coffee

Heart on Your Sleeve Project

Elixr Art Program

Elixr Coffee on Instagram

Elixr Coffee

207 S. Sydenham Street

Philadelphia, PA 19102