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 the poetry collection XING. Her writing has appeared in The Awl, The Baffler, Brooklyn Rail, Fence, The Iowa Review, Art in America, Artforum, Modern Painters, and other publications. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Princeton University, and the CUNY Writers’ Institute, she has been awarded residencies at Yaddo, Macdowell, and the Santa Fe Art Institute. She is currently Director of English Language Arts assessment design and development at the College Board and lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.
Crystal Curry is the author of But I Have Realized It, winner of the Gatewood Prize, selected by Dorothea Lasky (Switchback Books, 2016), Our Chrome Arms of Gymnasium (Slope Editions, 2010) and the chapbook Logotherapy Pant (Cosa Nostra Editions, 2008). Her poems, reviews and poetry articles have appeared widely in publications including The Volta, Coldfront, Octopus, Denver Quarterly, Action Yes and others. She lives in Van Cortlandt Village, BX, NYC with her husband, poet/artist Nico Vassilakis, their children and a little Boston terrier named Timaxzienie.
Joanna Fuhrman is the author of five books of poetry, most recently The Year of Yellow Butterflies (Hanging Loose Press 2015) and Pageant (Alice James Books 2009). She teaches poetry at Rutgers University and Sarah Lawrence College’s Writers Village, and as a teaching artist in New York City Schools through Teachers & Writers Collaborative, as well as in private advanced-level workshops. She recently finished a book-length poetry/photography/sculpture project with the artist Toni Simon.