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Poets House Interns, Summer 2015

Jose Chery, Clare Hogan, Kayon Jengelley, Jason Lalljee, Eli Landau, Delsa Lopez, Katie McClimon, Precious Musa, Lauren Routt, Brittney Segura, and Felicia Tsao

Poets House is fortunate to receive tremendous support from an energetic and varied group of interns.
Here's a brief introduction to some of them:

(To find out how to become a Poets House intern, click here)

Jose Chery

Jose Chery

About Jose: I was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, but I’ve lived in Brooklyn since I left Haiti when I was six years old. I’m currently a rising senior at Midwood High School. I became interested in Poets House because poetry has fascinated me since I read Shel Silverstein’s poem “Sick” when I was in the first grade. I love Poets House’s mission statement and the fact that they keep the space free and open to the public. I aspire to work for a nonprofit like Poets House one day, so this is a great platform to start exploring possibilities to achieve that goal.

What she’s up to: For the most part I’ve been working with the children’s education program, but I’ve been doing a little bit of everything--compiling photos for the Poets House Instagram account, preparing activities for our various children’s programs, and gathering content for our Twitter account. These jobs have given me a sense of responsibility and have reaffirmed my ambitions to work for a nonprofit. It’s also reignited my love for poetry; it’s enriched my writing and made me feel more confident in my own artistic abilities.


walking down the street with no place to stay
and no i’m not homeless
i have multiple houses in multiple cities
i just don’t have a home
Don’t look at me with confused eyes
cause a home is not just a place to rest your head
home is being with the person who cares and loves unconditionally
and of that i have none
Jose Chery

Clare Hogan

Clare Hogan

About Clare: I’m originally from Washington, D.C. and am about to enter my senior year at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. I’m an English major and a Museum Studies minor, and am especially interested in nonprofit literary education programs and events that get people engaged with collections in dynamic ways. I’m also an aspiring poet. Discovering Poets House was particularly exciting for me because it combines so many of my passions--collections, education, literature, and creative writing.

What she’s up to: At Poets House, I’ve been working on a lot of different projects. I’ve been helping with our weekly Tiny Poets Time, as well as creating learning materials and lesson plans for different age groups. It’s exciting and inspiring to see kids of so many different ages getting excited about poetry. I’ve also been helping to get materials out to Poets House members and donors. Working here has been a great balance of creatively inspiring, since I’m surrounded by people who share my love of poetry, and professionally valuable, because I’ve become more familiar with the various gears and switches that make nonprofits tick.

Christmas Market at St. Stephen’s Green

Nothing’s quite so dim tonight: strands
of yellow lights illuminate the crowd
who sip mulled wine, from whose dark
pools steam constantly burgeons; and shiver;

and move slowly, as if pained. Look: just there,
a man clings to his daughter. The small thing’s

submerged, almost, in this strange and pulsing
current of bodies. Isn’t this personhood? Look

closer: their clutched hands are tense to the point
of quivering, every tendon strained by the immediacy

of their need—something like saying I cannot lose you.
Closer again: the hands are a template for all needs: see

how they convey what we can’t afford to give up?
(Not this.) They carry the need, for example,

to know ourselves—different from the woman serving
crepes, the man weaving himself through the crowd,

the baby with his rattling cry by the cocoa stand.
And the need for some exposure, yes, to such arresting

cold to learn the exact perimeter of each particular body.
And what it holds. (The loss of heat will tell.) The need

to grasp what defies our grasping: this father’s hand
could never keep his daughter. She was, of course,

lost to him so long ago she's become—nothing
separate: a symbol of his needs: something

that, lost, will take something of him with her.
Something at once effusive and silent, both calling

and harkening to what drives the grip, makes it
tighten: the need to name and be named.
Clare Hogan

Kayon Jengelley

Kayon Jengelley

About Kayon: I was born in Jamaica, where I lived for the first 12 years of my life. I came to America in the eighth grade, and I now live in Queens. I am a rising senior at Thomas Edison Career and Technology Education High School. I came to Poets House through the Bloomberg Arts and Culture Program, which places high school students with organizations based on their personal interests. They placed me at Poets House because I have a passion for poetry, especially spoken word. I started writing poetry in the fourth grade and became more serious about it as a junior in high school.

What she’s up to: This summer, I’ve worked on creating materials and activities for a Poets House children’s event on Governor’s Island. I also created and collected images for the Poets House Instagram account. In working on these projects, I was able to use my background as a visual artist. For example, my work with the Instagram account has allowed me to use my artistic eye to combine both written and visual art. Working here has helped me develop an attention to detail and my critical thinking skills so that when I look at a work of art or read a poem, I can look for the deeper meanings and broaden my understanding of the emotions and ideas that the poet or artist is trying to get across.


Dear self
Cause I hope you remember this

Throat clogged up
Coughs followed by new waves of nausea
Clenching all of your muscles
Every body part, a ball of tension
Trembling against the other
Tummy tucked in
Palms cold, but not sweaty
Eyes opening, closing
The person next to you asks
Thoughts become lost
They are just that
You're tongue moves to feel the roof of your mouth
This all feels unreal
Rush home to vomit up today's meal
It wasn't much
You couldn't stomach anything
Not even the thought of being alone
Not even the thought of being.
And together?

For you sleep was a haven
And your art the catalyst of your insecurities

And those pills won't help
And these thoughts won't help
And this pen won't help
And your mom won't help

They can't support the weight of your body as the strength in your legs leave
Nor can they loosen the tightening in your chest

why would you even imagine that they could?

The pen doesn't know you

You can't translate that raw emotion into word
You can't numb the pain with a pill

Who do you even think you are?

And you're choking on the cortisol and adrenaline so I don't expect an answer
Kayon Jengelley

Jason Lalljee

Jason Lalljee

About Jason: I’m a senior in high school where I’m an editor of the student literary magazine and editor of the school newspaper, because I’m obsessed with anything that tells a story. I’ve loved reading and writing since I was a little kid. I came to Poets House because the idea of an environment that’s dedicated solely to something I love, poetry, was really exciting to me.

What he’s up to: At Poets House, I’m currently involved in projects such as compiling works for our 2016 Poetry Publication Showcase. It’s a lot of online research, so I’ve been able to discover many new poets that I wouldn’t have discovered on my own. They say that writers first need to be readers, and exposure to such an eclectic and broad range of writers has influenced my own writing greatly in making me more aware of my individual voice as a poet.

The Woods Would Be Lovely

If I told you that I wanted to walk along
the train tracks at sunset,
Would you follow me through the sylvan path
you swore you’d never cross?
If the scattered autumn leaves hid the iron shafts
would you pretend they weren’t there,
Just so that I’d have your hand to hold
as the distant smoke unfurled
to mate with clouds?
I can see you now, peering through the slits
between your fingers, as you dare not to look
even though I’d like us both
to see the earth open up
and swallow the sun a last time.
Even if the question never escaped my lips
you’d know what I was about to ask,
by that asphyxiating moment
when our entwined hearts would beat in sync,
when our eyes would meet and the world
would dissipate into white noise like fog.
I wonder what we’d talk about
as exhaust began to drift down
like charcoal snowflakes,
the silence pregnant with not a what,
a how
a why
or even a will but a
will you,
because I’m that selfish,
especially as our last moments dwindle
and the train tracks rumble,
the leaves scattering with an alien will to live
that was somehow never threaded into my genes.
If you’d come that far,
the wood you swore you’d never cross
looming from behind,
Would you step onto the rails with me,
to never again see night creep forth
from the shadows?
As the smoke enveloped us,
would you be looking into my eyes
or to the life you left behind?
Jason Lalljee

Eli Landau

Eli Landau

About Eli: I’m from Mahwah, New Jersey, and am currently a rising sophomore at Sarah Lawrence College, where I study primarily poetry and philosophy. I came to Poets House out of a deeply seated need to fill my time with things I enjoy--and I enjoy poetry.

What he’s up to: While here, I’ve been trying to educate myself about the poetry community, as well as broaden the spectrum of poets that I read. I’ve spent a lot of time developing posts for Poets House’s various social media accounts, as well as interacting with and helping patrons. My favorite part of the internship has been the exposure to the community and relatively like-minded people--and, of course, getting away from New Jersey. When my internship ends, I feel that I will walk away from it with a more nuanced perspective on the poetry community and how it interacts with the world at large.

A Cry

Lets talk about Eli
the wandering spirit
sent from empty seat
to empty seat, not yet old
enough to drink spirits

I woke up on a hot July day
i was a different person
this time yesterday
tomorrow I could fall
asleep to swim with the fish
filet’s; cut up on display

You save your extra seats
for me, a meal no treats
I leave before tea, for me
your wine, one glass
I’m the toast “thank
you for gathering the most”

Tomorrow I’m gone before
you awake, no goodbye
no breakfast, no mistake
is my name a tie to my fate?

I live on the run, before
in your thoughts, I arrive
and then I run, drug me
with your dirty mental rum
you make the smart feel dumb
so next time I stay it’s not for long
sing me your song
ill shrug like I’ve gotten it wrong
if only I could stop the cycle I’m on

אני מגיע בעודי (I Arrive) and אני נשארת (I stay)
no longer Eli, from today my name
reminds me to live the right way
ahead of the crowd because I started
from the back, took my time to head
the pack, more than once I stopped
for a heart healthy snack, picking
up the wrappers to learn the health facts.
Eli Landau

Delsa Lopez

Delsa Lopez

About Delsa: I’m a rising junior at the Calhoun School. I am really interested in horror as a genre, and so I love to do special effects makeup and write horror stories; I want to scare people with both makeup and paper. I came to Poets House at the recommendation of one of my teachers. I love that it always smells like paper.

What she’s up to: My favorite part of this internship is helping people--whether that be in assisting patrons to find books or in giving tours of the building. The other great thing about being here is that it gives me the opportunity to read a lot every day. I have done so in order to gather materials for the Poets House Twitter account and to create display materials for children’s events. In working here, I’ve developed my ability to organize and work efficiently for future jobs. Poets House has made me realize that there’s more than just fiction in the literary world; poets have a complex and different way of seeing things, and it has given me a new way to recognize beauty in the world.

Nine Ways to Look at a Hand

Cavernous rifts upon paper-brittle, scar-writtled, pen-fiddled skin
The scorched wrinkles say hello to the air

On the perch of a chapel at aurora
Hands and arms seem to be all to be seen
Reaching towards
Or everything

Spidering onto you
Its dead, dead eyes
Dry and grey, stares
smiles at all the skin to ravish;
Crawling on

Marching to the beat of hearts
They run and run and sing
Its head decorated with nail polish blood
For its mouth to catch

Allow me your grace, little one
Darling, whisper to me your delight
In the roundness of your fingers and
Delicious lack of strife
And you stab me
I bleed expletives and cursed words

Explorer, discover evermore
Speak your findings.
I wash you.

Wield your instrument, choose
Weapons of mass construction, I
Allow you to swipe gashes the color of


Crack and crumble
Writhing above the moon
I see it move
What am I doing with you?
Delsa Lopez

Katie McClimon

Katie McClimon

About Katie: I’m seventeen years old and about to be a senior at the Dalton School. I wanted to come to Poets House because I wanted to be in a place that celebrates poetry and supports writers. As a writer myself, I feel connected to the world of writers and I think that Poets House has helped me to meet other people that feel the same.

What she’s up to: This summer, I’ve had a lot of interactions with people who have a similar investment in poetry. I’ve also been generating ideas for Twitter posts, such as quotes from different poems and articles. This work has given me the opportunity to share what I think is important for other people to read and see online. It’s made me feel like my ideas are valued. Being with other interns who are interested in poetry and working somewhere that’s so encouraging of poets has inspired me to be confident in who I am as a writer.

Precious Musa

Precious Musa

About Precious: I’m a Nigerian-American, born and raised in Connecticut. I’m a rising sophomore at Smith College. I write short stories and poetry and I look to move people with what I write; I want people to walk away feeling different than before they read my work. My goal this summer was to immerse myself in writing and editing and to be around a lot of creativity. For me, New York was the best place to do that, and when I found out about Poets House, I felt it was the place to go to be surrounded by people with similar interests.

What she’s up to: This summer, I worked a lot on the 2015 Poetry Publication Showcase with the Poets House librarian, Gina Scalise, and the Poets House program assistant, Lauren Clark. We had to ensure that the exhibit included all of the books of poetry from both small-name presses and big-name publishers that have been published since last year’s Showcase. I was also in charge of putting together a book sale for this exhibit. As I worked on these projects, I became more familiar with current publishers and what they print. I’ve been able to think about where I would like to see my work published based on the content they put out. I’ve also loved being surrounded by people who appreciate poetry as much as I do, and being able to share my work with them.


I’ve got this arrow in my quiver.
             Right here.
                           It is right here.

On it, carved,
words of resistance

             I’ve only got one shot.

Fly, pierce flesh,
let it lodge deep.

                                                      Where to use
                           How to use

It is a stand in,
a shadow of the words

Precious Musa

Lauren Routt

Lauren Routt

About Lauren: I was born and raised in Miami. I’m a middle school teacher and I love travelling and writing. I came to Poets House because I was interested in being in a space where literature is the sole focus of praise.

What she’s up to: My internship here has allowed me the creative agency to do many different projects. For example, I’m currently working on enhancing the diversity of our Twitter account. I was given leeway to showcase poets who are often not given a voice on media platforms, such as Countee Cullen and Alice Walker, to name a few. I also loved being able to work with students who came in--high school students in particular--because it’s great to see how far our education system has come and introduce young readers to new forms of literature.


Vibrations of the weak
keep you floated on the sidewalk
If you could just get out of your mind.
It harbors everyone who'd ever walked
into your life and left.
You still feel the pain,
all of it
but you didn't even love each one.
So, then
why are they straight up in your organ's soul.
Lauren Routt

Brittney Segura

Brittney Segura

About Brittney: I grew up in Brooklyn but I now live in Jersey. I go to Union County Vocational Technical school where I am about to be a junior. I became interested in poetry two years ago, and came to Poets House to explore that passion.

What she’s up to: I’ve been helping to introduce more Black and Hispanic voices to our Twitter account. It’s important to me because those cultures are not given as prominent a voice as others. As people, we need to explore different perspectives and learn more from others to benefit society and all people. People have always written and have always had things to say, and it’s important that all people be heard. I think Poets House is a great place because it’s somewhere to call “home” for poets and people who read poetry.

Felicia Tsao

Felicia Tsao

About Felicia: I am going into my senior year at Hamilton College, where I am a double major in Hispanic Studies and Creative Writing. I have a passion for language. I came to Poets House because I’ve loved poetry since I was young. I’ve always viewed poetry as something to turn to for comfort and a source of motivation. I knew I was going to be in New York this summer, and I wanted to do something productive and related to my interest in writing. I also appreciate what Poets House is: a place for reading, studying, and taking classes; that makes the world of poetry more solidified and substantial.

What she’s up to: This summer, I helped teach a high school class on poetry analysis. It was so fun; I love teaching and interacting with kids, and definitely want to do something like that in the future. I also helped plan a Poets House children’s event on Governor’s Island. When kids visit the children’s reading room, I often interact with them. I also helped set up and facilitate many events, such as our Poets House Poetry Publication Showcase. As I’ve worked here, I’ve been able to interact with so many people, which has enhanced my people skills. Helping with the setup of events has sharpened my organizational abilities. Just being able to say I’ve spent a summer at Poets House is an accomplishment to me; it’s what I love to do, and when people hear that I’ve worked here, they know that I’m passionate about poetry. It’s been such a blessing to share my time with people who share that interest; it makes me want to delve deeper into my own work. I want to write more, create more, think more because of my summer here.


Inspired by: “The Siege and Massacre at Fort Christiana” and “Cast a Spell on the Country You Run” OR “The Effects of Prison on Monarchy”

Scratch out words on my lips
and bind my ankle to sweaty rats,
for I am
the princess of Denmark.
This is oak against cannon,
bring your face closer and
see for yourself.

Crack my prayer beads open
and find that they have been
punctured by maggots.
This is palm against palm,
but I’m done pleading
and now I’m demanding.

Pin me down on deerskin rivers
and scalp my newborn
from my torn knees.
This is blue against orange,
a replay of the Fifth of May
but this time the trickery lies
behind feathered headdresses
and quivering gunpowder.

Tread on my sheepskin skull
and let my captors know:
I have been waiting to press
the soles of my feet on solid dirt again.
Felicia Tsao

To find out how to become a Poets House intern, click here