Monday Afternoon Poetry


Marlin Jenkins reads his poem to the silent crowd. Before he began reading, he addressed the crowd, creating a personal, undaunting environment. “You with us?” he asked the crowd towards the end of the reading. They responded positively. “Beautiful.”

“Poetry is surging. It is rising up.”

Ellen Stone, Community High school teacher and poetry club advisor, spoke these words to the people in the full Craft Theatre, looking out at the audience from behind a microphone on the raised platform. They weren’t the first things said at the poetry reading that took place fifth block Monday, nor were they the most radical. But this simple statement perfectly captured the vibrant, energetic spirit of the poets and poetry that followed.

The headlining acts were Franny Choi and Marlin Jenkins, poets in their mid-twenties who study at the University of Michigan. They came to Community with dark brown rounded-frame glasses and eloquent things to say.

Before Choi and Jenkins read, three student poets—Thea Rowe, Will Carroll, and Kyndall Flowers—shared their work. They each read one poem, a taste of what the audience was to experience when the visiting poets read.

Stone then introduced the poets, describing Jenkins as “humble and powerful, specific, direct, and approachable,” as well as “brave and haunting.” Stone described Choi as “strong, impressive, and full of a sure energy” and said that she “allows us to befriend her with her intimate, undaunting poems.”

This introduction set the stage for the poets to read. Choi and Jenkins switched off at the microphone, trading off reading one or two poems. The ideas ranged from their identity to humorously frivolous, and everything in between. “This poem is called Introduction to Quantum Theory, which I know nothing about,” Choi said, as she introduced one of her poems. “Wikipedia is lit though.”

It was an intimate show, or maybe just seemed that way due to the proximity of Choi and Jenkins to the audience. The poets stood solidly on the stage in maroon Vans slip ons (Choi) and green, gray, and black saucony tennis shoes (Jenkins) as they performed feet from the captive audience.

The silence was broken only by snaps of appreciation and enthusiastic applause.


To see more of Franny Choi’s work, visit her website here (or listen to a short poem with photographs here, for a taste of her poetry).

Find Marlin Jenkins on Tumblr and Twitter, or read his poem For Dave (the dope-fiend shootin dope who don’t know the meaning of water nor soap) here.