Whisper to Me

The Delaware Valley Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers announces its 2023 collaborative project and exhibition, “Whisper to Me: a conversation through time”  

In 1773, Phillis Wheatley became the first African American to publish a book of poetry making this year the 250th Anniversary of the publication. In celebration of the anniversary, the DVCGBW has commissioned the 2022-23 Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate, Telicia Darius to write a poem in response. Members of the DVCGBW are invited to create new work to celebrate these two poets. These works will be exhibited at The Historical Society of Pennsylvania in November 2023.

Phillis Wheatley, born circa 1753, was brought to North America aboard the Phillis when she was around 7-8 years old. She was sold to the Wheatley family, who taught her to read and write. Phillis was emancipated shortly after the publication of her book. She married John Peters and died in 1784 at about the age of 31. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/phillis-wheatley

Seventeen-year-old Telicia Darius is a high school senior at Hardy Williams Mastery Charter School in southwest Philadelphia. She will be attending Stanford University in the fall. Philadelphia Tribune article about her appointment of Youth Poet Laureate: https://www.phillytrib.com/news/local_news/free-library-of-philadelphia-names-2022-23-youth-poet-laureate/article_54837a7c-416c-5cb7-9830-fce665783a60.html


  • Participant must make a minimum edition of two, one for exhibition and one to be given to Telicia Darius. In addition to monetary compensation, DVCGBW has agreed to give Telicia a complete set of the works.
  • Telicia Darius’ poetry is under copyright. Using copyrighted text is a new format for DVCGBW and we are committed to protect Telicia Darius’ intellectual property to the best of our ability. Participants in the project will be asked to sign a usage agreement before receiving the text of the poem.
  • Telicia Darius has agreed to grant members use of her poem to make a maximum edition of five. For larger editions, negotiations may be taken directly to Telicia Darius: teliciadarious[at]gmail[dot]com
  • Participants must be a member of DVCGBW in good standing to receive poem and participate in the exhibition.


  • Participants are encouraged to place Telicia Darius and Phillis Wheatley in dialogue with each other.
  • Phillis Wheatley’s poetry is in the public domain. It is available on google books here:  https://rb.gy/o6ns1b
  • In anticipation of questions, the DVC will host a virtual Q&A session on April 22nd 2023 at 1pm EST.
  • Not meeting the exhibition deadline, does not negate agreement signed for use of poem.
  • Choosing not to use the poem for this project does not grant future use of poem.
  • The DVCGBW reserves the right to refuse work it deems inappropriate for exhibit.

Time Line:

  • ASAP respond to delawarevalley@guildofbookworkers.org with intention to participate. The Project Collaboration Contract will be emailed, and the poem will be sent upon receipt of the Project Collaboration Contract.
  • Q&A session via Zoom: April 22nd, 2023 1pm EST. A zoom invitation will be sent out for interested parties.
  • Optional: WIP presentation of ideas for feedback June 17st.
  • October 1st 2023 deadline of works wishing to be considered for use in publications/press releases, social media posts, advertising the Exhibition.
  • November 1st HARD DEADLINE for work to arrive at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
  • November 2023, opening reception and book handling event.
  • Closing: January 2024.

Please share this prospectus widely.