Debora Kuan

Debora KuanDebora Kuan is the author of XING, a collection of poetry (Saturnalia Books, 2011), which was featured as a notable first book by both the Poetry Society of America and Ploughshares magazine. Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, she has been awarded a U.S. Fulbright creative writing fellowship (Taiwan). Her fiction and poetry have appeared or are forthcoming in American Letters and Commentary, Atlas Review, The Awl, The Baffler, Boston Review, Brooklyn Rail, Fence, Gigantic, Glittermob, HTMLGiant, Hyperallergic, Indiana Review, New American Writing, Opium, Pleiades, The Iowa Review, The L Magazine, The Rumpus, and other journals. In 2011, she won The L Magazine’s Literary Upstart award for best short fiction. She received an MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a BA in English from Princeton University. In the past, she has taught literature and creative writing at the University of Iowa, The College of New Jersey, and New York Institute of Technology, and through the independent organization Brooklyn Poets. She is currently a director of English Language Arts assessment at the College Board and a senior editor at Brooklyn Arts Press, a small, independent press that publishes poetry, art monographs, and fiction.


Teen Ghost

In real life,
I chased more
dust than dark.
I sought more
dolor than horror.
Around the clock, the false
hands flew. I
couldn’t get any younger.
I could never return
to that original thrill, or
a room of my friends
watching “The Shining”
for the very first time,
a boy unhooking my bra
in stealth. The first time
in the backseat the cattle
were lowing, a drowsy
brigade behind us
in the frosted broken
dark. His face
was sharp and cold
like a knife wrapped
whole in a scarf.
The palms of his hand
were dry. I
went home,
preserving the kiss
on the back of my neck
as if it were a firefly in a jar.
I chased its life like art.

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