Discipline: Literature – poetry

Kirsten Shu-ying Chen

Discipline: Literature – poetry
Region: New York, NY
MacDowell Fellowships: 2023

Kirsten Shu-ying Chen is a poet and writer born and raised on the Jersey Shore. Her writing and multimedia work centers life as a boundless experience of celebration and grief, and has been supported by Best American Poetry, the New York Public Library, and the Museum of the Moving Image. Chen's poetry can be found in Verse Daily, Bear Review, Hanging Loose, and elsewhere.

Her debut, full-length poetry collection, Light Waves (Terrapin Books, 2022) honors her relationship with her mother as a young caregiver and explores life. It was a finalist for the Autumn House Press Chapbook Prize and Tomaz Salamun Chapbook Prize by Factory Hollow Press. Chen has also been shortlisted for the PANK book prize, was as a semi-finalist for the GRIST Pro Forma contest, and was a semi-finalist for the Disquiet International Literary Prize. Her screenplays have scored an '8' on the blacklist and have been shortlisted for the ISA Fast Track and WeScreenplay competitions.

While at MacDowell, she worked on her second book of poetry, about exploring the intersection of grief and desire as well as facing and transforming ancestral fears. Her process while in residence included wandering the woods, looking out into the pitch-black night, and staying up late into the night next to the fireplace in her studio.

Portrait by Adrianna Favero



Kirsten Shu-ying Chen worked in the Veltin studio.

Veltin Studio was donated by alumni of the Veltin School, a school for girls in New York with a highly respected visual arts department. As the plaque just outside the entrance attests, this studio was used by poet Edwin Arlington Robinson during most of the 24 summers he spent at MacDowell. Perhaps most famously, Thornton Wilder put the finishing…

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