Emerging BIWOC Poet Spotlight

This monthly series features poems by women of color in the early stages of their publishing careers. It is our intention to create more space at Perugia for the work of poets who are Black, Indigenous, and women of color (BIWOC). We hope using our platform to celebrate this work will expand the readership of the poets we spotlight. This series aligns with Perugia’s mission to support and promote emerging women poets; featured poems will be from poets with no more than one published full-length collection. We’d love to hear from readers with suggestions for poems & poets to feature.

January 2022 Poet: AE HEE LEE 

Bougainvillea :: Papelillos

Alejandra says she doesn’t believe in discovery,
only in encounters, and that she wants to introduce me
to a bougainvillea bush down the street. She leads us
past white window gates from colonial times
that look like ornate birdcages, and I don’t ask out loud
whether a single dust particle has remained
in place since I left Trujillo years ago. She points, smiling,
Look, the branches of papelillos are over there—hugging
the sky. They are the color of our mornings here, of light
shivering in fog, busy with petals that are not petals but
leaves holding invisible flowers. We don’t stand too close;
we don’t interrupt the rustle of paper chalices
above our heads. We wait, under the latticed shade, stay
still to understand what it means to sway.  


Connotary, Bull City Press, 2021

Poet Bio

Born in South Korea, raised in Peru, Ae Hee Lee currently lives in the United States. She is the author of the poetry chapbooks: Dear bear, (Platypus Press, 2021), Bedtime || Riverbed (Compound Press, 2017), and Connotary, which was selected as the winner for the 2021 Frost Place Chapbook Competition. Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming at Poetry Northwest, The Georgia Review, Poetry Magazine, New England Review, and Southern Review, among others.