PLU Poetry Week: Princess Reese '14

Princess Reese '14

Princess Reese ’14 majored in anthropology and women’s and gender studies at Pacific Lutheran University. She now works for MDC’s College Bound Program as an assistant youth education adviser at Tacoma’s Lincoln High School.

“My program serves underrepresented, first-generation youth interested in going to college but who maybe lack community and family resources,” Reese says. “We introduce them to the application process, help them make decisions about where they want to go, connect them to resources to enable their success and help them with scholarships, financial aid, and standardized test prep.”

Reese began writing poetry in elementary school and can vividly remember the first poem she ever wrote. “It was a series of repeating stanzas that compared my fourth-grade teacher to a wilting field of tulips,” she recalls with a laugh. “I’ve been melodramatic since birth.”

A well-known spoken word poetry performer while attending PLU, Reese is influenced by traditional, written poets as well as spoken word poets. “My favorite to read are Maya Angelou, Bell Hooks, Audre Lorde, Shel Silverstein, Langston Hughes, Alice Walker and James Baldwin. My favorite spoken word artists are Mos Def, Sarah Kay and Porsha Olayiwola.”

Reese is currently working on completing an anthology project. Tentatively titled Polychrome, the collection is based on interviews and “first dates” with 25 participants. “In it, I’m exploring themes of love, sex, relationships, spirituality, ‘shaping’ moments, and concepts of God through vignettes and short stories.”

Each day of PLU Poetry Week (April 25-30) will feature a poem by a student, alumnus or faculty member.

I tried to be wild

I tried to live on the wind

But I liked the comfort of my bed and my bank

I tried to be classy

But I like the breeze on my exposed thighs

And I like my voice loud and clear

I tried to be sweet

But sweet can’t compare to the taste of necessary words

Truthfully spoken

I tried to be a flower-child

But I like cough drops and that processed sugar

And the feeling of tar as it coated my lungs and teeth

I tried to be enlightened

But throwing shade felt better than seeking the Light

I tried to be on fire for my religion

But dogma and stockings make me itch

And the white churches don’t sing beautifully like the Baptist


But the Baptist churches turned my love for the human body

Into sin

And I saw too much beauty in persons devout to other things

And Muhammad and Siddhartha and Tao forced me to read

I tried to be law-abiding,

But the streets called my body to protest wrongdoing

And the soap box felt smooth and supporting under the soles

Of my broken feet

I tried to be chaste

But I am too good at being a lover

At running my middle finger along a lover’s seams and slowly

Opening them up

Revealing their bones and the beauty they forgot they had

I tried to be traditional

But my ironed clothes felt like casket closing in

And I couldn’t shake my zigzag enough to

Drop into the mold

I tried to be endlessly funny

And easygoing

But my jokes are too bitter and

Too existential and my default setting got

In the way

I tried to settle down my spirit,

To put parameters on my fire

But my dreams were in the ether and I had to

Go to them

I still must go to them