Alice Brasser © 2019

Alice Brasser © 2019


by Jenna Lê

i ask the famous poet

how her poetry reading went


She read her poems, turned the final page,
and sat back down. Then the open mic began.
A pink-jowled man in a tweed suit took the stage,

peered down at her from the perch his lofty age
and lofty stature gave him. A self-sure man,
he read first two, then three odes, page after page,

intoning orotundly. His verbiage
showed no signs of stopping, but onward ran:
this pink-jowled man in his tweed suit on the stage,

how long would he drone on? “I en-cour-age
you all to take verse seriously as you can”
—he rested his heavy palm upon the page

in doling this advice—“not simper and sway
as the poetess did while reading”—and his gaze panned
to where the famous poet sat facing the stage,

now blushing down to her décolletage.
Shocked? Lots of readings follow this same plan:
you read your poems, turn the final page,
and then a man (pink jowls, tweeds) takes the stage.


Jenna Lê authored Six Rivers and A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora, which won Second Place in the Elgin Awards. She was selected by Marilyn Nelson as winner of Poetry By The Sea’s inaugural sonnet competition. Her poetry appears in Los Angeles Review, Massachusetts Review, and West Branch.