A Poet's Life: Les Conversations à Sézane with Emily Skillings + Dorothea Lasky


When my friend Pamela forwarded me an invitation to a French apartment where a beautiful feminist poet would be reading from her book, I did not delay in RSVPing. When I saw that Dorothea Lasky, the poetic Twitter horoscope angel I’ve been following for years, would be in conversation with her, I was delighted to say the least.

The space the reading was held, Sézane, was a Parisian dream. It’s like if your cool aunt got divorced and moved to Paris and invited you to stay in her balconied guest room for a week. Everyone who works there is a smiling model/student type with amazing hair, and they handed us sparkling rosé in crystal goblets as we walked in. I mean.

Emily Skillings is the type of poet I just want to sit next to and listen to for hours. I would also love to see her closet and jewelry collection. Her poems are every bit as breathtaking as some of the other emerging leaders of the more academic New York poetry A-list, but she actually talks to you like a friendly human being and relates to normal plebes like me, which is unique in the scene.

Emily introduced Dorothea as her thesis advisor from grad school, and they are obviously now great friends. They finished each other’s sentences, looked lovingly at each other, and spoke at length about their mutual admiration and how we should definitely buy each book authored by the other, and how nicely the books would pair with the gorgeous clothing perfectly displayed in Sézane (which I found out was in fact not an apartment but a beautiful French clothing shop inspired by the founder’s Parisian apartment. Basically the same thing right?)

Dorothea Lasky is hilarious, garrulous, a fashion icon, and has the best laugh of any poet I’ve ever met. Honestly, she should have a talk show. It was positively therapeutic watching them ask each other questions, empathize with the captivated audience, and consider the ways that fashion and poetry intersect in general, and in their own lives. Emily uses fashion as a way to express herself without having to write a poem, and as armor on the streets of this tough city. Dorothea (or Dottie as Emily adorably called her) is more of a hoarder. They both have a very apparent obsession for dramatic and multitudinous rings.

After the reading and Q&A, Pamela and I and a dozen other happy people perused the shop, and I was struck by an elegant silk blouse hanging alluringly from a golden rack. I tried it on, Pamela approved, and a cheerful clerk lovingly wrapped it in tissue and gave me a free scarf with my purchase, because, Paris. And I bought Emily’s book too, of course! I’m not a monster.

As I biked home in the perfect September breeze with my typewriter on my back, I wrote this poem.

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