Poetry. Asian & Asian American Studies. Women's Studies. Rejecting the purely lyrical mode and its attendant melancholia, the poems in Lunch Portraits attempt to beat back existential dread by reveling in the delightfully banal totems of mass American culture—hot dogs, cinema, cats, money, youth, selfies. They eat their way through exuberance and fear, richness and emptiness, belonging and alienation, locating in the everyday what is human and hopelessly hungry. Yet in this search for satiation, they also stumble upon the vexing paradoxes inherent in this desire, where no insecurity is entirely innocuous. These poems are alive with appetite and yearning, always hopeful to discover, as Kuan writes, "the 'help' button of the burning telephone."
Debora Kuan is the author of two previous poetry collections XING (Saturnalia, 2011) and Lunch Portraits (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2016). She has been awarded residencies at Yaddo, MacDowell, and the Santa Fe Art Institute. Her work has appeared in Poetry, Kenyon Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Fence, The Iowa Review, ZYZZYVA, and others. She has been anthologized in publications such as the Brooklyn Poets Anthology (2017), Advanced Language and Literature (Bedford/St. Martin's), What Things Cost: An Anthology for the People (University Press of Kentucky, 2023), and the forthcoming Poetry Studio: Prompts for Poets. She is the current poet laureate of Wallingford, CT, where she works remotely for the MIT Press.