In Juniper Cruz’s “Dear Summer,” rage is entwined with sweet and with death. Cruz’s speaker wears the rage, a “t-shirt you made out of a boy//the one that punched me and kissed me/on the same night(,)” you being Summer, something larger. Wears the t-shirt in memory, memoriam, thankful for both what is lost and what remains. As the poem progresses, Cruz’s speaker addresses not Summer but Irony, then not Irony but Death, though maybe these are synonymous. Cruz gives this gratitude to us, for what comes next. –Robby Auld


Dear Summer,

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Juniper Cruz is a trans Afro-Latina from Hartford, Connecticut. She is currently an undergraduate student at Kenyon College. Her work has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, Poets.org, and Beech Street Review.


Honorable mentions: Hannah Brauer (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI); Ashton Carlile (Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY); Ethan Chua (Stanford University, Stanford, CA); Peyton Ipsaro (Kent State University, Kent, OH); Lilly Keefe-Powers (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN); Hannah Sheinkman (Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY)


Where “wires are like black eels” and wind is seen as “a bright coil,” Lucie Richter-Mahr engages with a world we have seen and yet, not-imagined. The title tells us of a more than reluctant invitation, but invited, we are given glimpses of a landscape containing immense strangeness, a strangeness we might not otherwise see without Richter-Mahr as our guide. The speaker’s world seems to tilt as she observes the ‘you’ in a space where she has not wanted to see them; how different the world can be, depending on who stands beside us, or who we stand there thinking of.   — Sophie Klahr

I didn’t want to take you to the Scots pines

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Lucie Richter-Mahr was born in London and moved to Scotland when she was five. She grew up in Berlin, finished high school in Oxford, and will be attending Edinburgh university this autumn. She believes in Anne Carson and Patti Smith.

Honorable mentions: Matilda Berke (Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA); Alixa Brobbey (Brigham Young Univeristy, Provo, UT); Jessica Chang (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI); Steven Chung (Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT); Annabelle Crowe (Rice University, Houston, TX); Jasmine Cui (SUNY Geneseo, Geneseo, NY); Amelia Van Donsel (Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY); Logan February (University of Ibadan, Nigeria); Justin Han (Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI); Caldwell Gregg Holden (Bennington College, Bennington, VT); Avelynne Kang (Concordia University, Montréal, QC); Devanshi Khetarpal (New York University, New York, NY); Caroline Lee (The Hill School, Pottstown, PA); Hannah Leonard (Homewood-Flossmoor High School, Flossmoor, IL); Sharon Lin (Stuyvesant High School, New York, NY); Courtney Munkres (New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, New Orleans, LA); Reuben Gelley Newman (Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA); Erin O’Malley (University of Rochester, Rochester, NY); Annasofia Padua (Miami Arts Charter, Miami, FL); Emily Ramsey (John Burroughs High School, Burbank, CA); Khamil Olivia Riley (Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT); Svetlana Sterlin (Queensland University of Technology, Australia); Emma Stinson (Mt. Blue High School, Farmington, ME); Emily Yin (Princeton University, Princeton, NJ); Zuyi Zhao (Stanford University, Stanford, CA)


One could characterize Sabine Holzman’s poem as haunted or chilling, but these convenient descriptors would miss the subtle twists of this insistent engagement with memory and grief. “Elegy for My Ghost Mother” is a poem of surprising violence, its lines stretching across the page like a drawn out threat. “Here is the truth: you did not raise me to be kind,” writes Holzman, and the truth again and again is presented in a bluntness only cold can cause, as the speaker’s body becomes a frozen lake, an icicle, something a knife is named after.  — Sophie Klahr



Elegy for My Ghost Mother


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Sabine Holzman is a poet and student from Southern California. Her writing has been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, Chapman’s Annual Holocaust Art and Writing Contest, the California Coastal Commission, and has appeared in numerous small magazines. In her free time, she enjoys petting her dogs and reading about girls raised by wolves.

Honorable mentions: Brittany Adames (Emerson College, Boston, MA); Sophie Allen (University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA); Margot Armbruster (Brookfield Academy, Brookfield, WI); Marie B (Blue Valley High School, Stilwell, KS); Madison Bissonette (Owatonna Senior High, Owatonna, MN); Emma Camp (Alabama School of Fine Arts, Birmingham, AL); Joseph Felkers (Grand Rapids Catholic Central High School, Grand Rapids, MI); Kate I. Foley; Aidan Forster (Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, Greenville, SC); M.E. Funke (Los Osos High School, Rancho Cucamonga, CA); Delaney Gaughan (McKinney North High School, McKinney, TX); Farah Ghafoor (Vincent Massey Secondary School, Windsor, ON); Lily Goldberg (Hunter College High School, New York, NY); Yuri Han (Tenafly High School, Tenafly, NJ); Vincent Hao (Liberal Arts and Science Academy, Austin, TX); Rachana Hegde (Hong Kong International School, Hong Kong); Ty Kia (Auburn High School, Rockford, IL); Danie Knopf-Weinstein (The Fine Arts Center, Greenville, SC); Claire S. Lee (Canyon Crest Academy, San Diego, CA); Morgan Levine (High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Houston, TX); Enshia Li (Bayview Secondary School, Richmond Hill, ON); Caitlyn N. Mlodzik (The Vanguard School, Colorado Springs, CO); Rebecca Northup (University of California, Santa Cruz, CA); Sarah Pearl; Lenna Peterson (Chillicothe High School, Chillicothe, MO); Joey Puckett (Edina High School, Edina, MN); Jeniffer Quintela (Miami Arts Charter, Miami, FL); Alex Barrera Reyes (Alamo Heights High School, San Antonio, TX); Magnus Saebo (Upper Arlington High School, Columbus, OH); Elizabeth Sheedy (Norwell High School, Norwell, MA); Sahara Sidi (Appomattox Regional Governor’s School for the Arts and Technology, Petersburg, VA); Tanya Singh (Bhavan Vidyalaya, Chandigarh, India); Griffin Somaratne (The Thacher School, Newbury Park, CA); Lizz Stay (Southern Utah University, South Jordan, UT); Stephanie Tom (Roslyn High School, Roslyn Heights, NY); Noah Williams (Arlington High School, Lagrangeville, NY); Topaz Winters (Singapore American School, Singapore); Alisha Yi (Ed W. Clark High School, Las Vegas, NV); Soo Young Yun (Chadwick International, Incheon, South Korea); Joyce Zhou (Neuqua Valley High School, Naperville, IL)


Here, here, here is a piece that catches the reader in its chase, the syntax of phrases such as “fall trout thrum south,” thrumming nearly tangible in the sound. In Jacqueline He’s poem, “night/compels a narrative that lingers in the mouth like an aftertaste(,)” as does the fox spirit, He’s poem first questioning this spirit, then embracing it. Intertwining language and imagery, mythology and musicality, He transcends the page line after, and line upon, line. — Robby Auld


狐狸精 // fox spirit   

after mary szybist


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Jacqueline He is a high school junior from the Harker School in San Jose, California. She was recently named a 2017 YoungArts Finalist in Writing, a 2017 Virginia B. Ball Writing Contest Finalist, and a 2016-2017 American High School Poets Just Poetry !!! National Winner. Her poetry was recognized by Princeton University and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, and was featured in Teen Ink (Editor’s Choice Award), the Eunoia Review, Brouhaha Magazine, Effervescent Magazine, and Moledro Magazine.

Honorable mentions: Hadassah Amani (Miami Arts Charter, Miami, FL); Sarah B (Marlboro High School, Marlboro, NJ); Jake Bracha (Miami Arts Charter, Miami, FL); Anna Butcher (Alabama School of Fine Arts, Birmingham, AL); Madi Carr (Westfield High School, Westfield, IN); Haemaru Chung (Trinity School, New York, NY); MarQuel Horton (Cooperative Arts & Humanities High School, New Haven, CT); Olivia Hu (Port Moody Secondary School, Port Moody, BC); Nadia Jo (Deerfield Academy, Deerfield, MA); Madina Malahayati (Global Jaya School, Bintaro); Roman Maksimov (Woodburn Arts and Communications Academy, Woodburn, OR); Mercy Moncada (Cristo Rey Boston High School, Dorchester, MA); Nyaila Newbold (Miami Arts Charter, Miami, FL); Gabriella Quintero (Miami Arts Charter, Miami, FL); Tarik Shwaish (The Gifted School of Basra, Iraq); Cindy Song (Richard Montgomery High School, Rockville, MD); Kevin Song (Brooklyn Technical High School, Brooklyn, NY); Katherine Soupiset (Alamo Heights High School, San Antonio, TX); Abby Tow (Keller High School, Keller, TX); Mia Valenzuela (Orange County School of the Arts, Santa Ana, CA); Tyler James Vivas (Miami Arts Charter, Miami, FL); Lisa Yuen (Westerly High School, Westerly, RI)


An irrefutable tenderness permeates Emily Tian’s “China Canteen,” as the speaker gazes into the self-hood of her father, whose identity is pressed and pushed by the world at large “like a muddied tire.” This language has a unique grace, watching  “the god inking thank you/thank you/thank/you on the supermarket bags growing like calla lilies,” watching “peanut oil beating itself into rain.” Tian’s intuitive craft allows for poignant attention; free of judgment, this is a watchful poem, reliant on image, honoring a father, a culture, and language as one.  – Sophie Klahr



China Canteen


Come New Year’s, and my father becomes Jun
again, meaning soldier, my grandmother’s prayer
for strength. Other days he wheels from Juan, to June
to John, like a muddied tire, the telephone only ringing for John.

Tonight, though, his voice hushes over the soft ablution
of a year. The soot in his hair washed by monolid god, by no god,
by the god inking thank you/thank you/thank
you on the supermarket bags growing like calla lilies.

Forget slow linting of green cards on tabletops. Forget the
stumble-stop s and the bowed v. Memory welts inside him,
siphoned from his windpipes through the unlatched
window, where the sun waits like a flame.

Monsoon fryer: peanut oil beating itself into rain.
Wine poured in great smooth drags, and gulped down like a fish-man.
Fish and fortune taste the same in his mouth. Nian nian you yu
The light stammers so gently he could cry.



Emily Tian was born in 2001 and is a junior at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, Maryland. Her poems have been recognized by the National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Words Dance, The Cadaverine Magazine, The Claremont Review, and National Poetry Quarterly, among others.

Honorable mentions: Payton Carlson (Blue Valley Northwest High School, Overland Park, KS); Savannah Rae Clark (Plainview High School, Glenmora, LA); Rachel Dalai (Academy at Penguin Hall, Wenham, MA); Archika Dogra (Interlake High School, Bellevue, WA); Mai Hoang (Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, NH); Heather Jensen (Red Mountain High School, Mesa, AZ); Ralfo Manzur (Miami Arts Charter, Miami, FL); Anika Prakash (West Windsor- Plainsboro High School South, West Windsor, NJ); Mateo Strickland (Miami Arts Charter, Miami, FL); Miracle Thornton (Interlochen Arts Academy, Interlochen, MI); Valerie Wu (Presentation High School, San Jose, CA); Jessica Xu (Haynes Academy and New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, New Orleans, LA); Adam Zhou (International School Manila, Philippines)


“Revolution is a / big word,” writes Sarah Feng. The title of this poem translates in English to “Today, I can speak,” and it seems almost unimaginable that the speaker in this situation would be able to engage with language in any way except through poetry — how better to cry out against oppression? And how to speak in any way except through poetry when the body has been slated for execution? Here there is purity and relentless conviction, a rich embrace of the still-sensual world of “heat-bruised passionfruit,” even as the sky breaks over a voice soon to be silenced. — Sophie Klahr





Thousands of students march through the capital [Beijing] to Tiananmen Square in April 1989, calling for a more democratic government. In the weeks that follow, thousands of people join the students to protest against China’s Communist rules. After several weeks of demonstrations,
Chinese troops entered Tiananmen Square on June 4 and fired on civilians. It has been estimated that as many as 10,000 people were arrested during and after the protests.

Several dozen people have been executed for their parts in the demonstrations.


(call me a nationalist, or
call me an inmate.)

mother, do you know:
at seven intersections,
lights blink green.
a flood swarms around
the metal ark.
sky splitting open,
seven pairs of lips
glow a pulpy red.
our motherland made up
of plumes of screeching smog.

(mother, i no longer taste salt
when i speak.)

i wonder if noise
could marble skin.
thrashing, i stream
down legs and
through breasts,
lay myself bare
on tiled domes of tiananmen, curl up
in heat-bruised passionfruit
splitting by the butcher.
revolution is a
big word & so is

the wind shreds the portrait
of old Mao into confetti.
i strip myself bare
& dance in the ribbons.

mother, i am writing to you from my prison cell.
tomorrow, at eight, my execution.

we drink the catharsis with our hands.
i am gulping down the air
until my mouth bleeds like our flag.

[1] Today, I can finally talk again.

[2] I love my country.




Sarah Feng is 14 and a sophomore at Pinewood School. A National Poetry Quarterly Best of Issue scholarship recipient, she is the author of 2 self-published novels and a 2017 Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship poetry mentee. Her work has been recognized by the regional Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, the Willamette Writers, and the California Coastal Commission, among others, and has been published/is forthcoming in the Storm Cellar Quarterly, the Rising Phoenix Review, and the Los Angeles Times Insider. She interns at the Blueshift Journal and reads prose for the Glass Kite Anthology.

Honorable mentions: Anisha Bellamy (Miami Arts Charter, Miami, FL); Cleo Engle (Charlottesville High School, Charlottesville, VA); Taylor Fang (Logan High School, Logan, UT); Eli Frievalt (Miami Arts Charter, Miami, FL); Kanchan Naik (The Quarry Lane School, Dublin, CA); Megan O’Donnell (Mt. Blue High School, Farmington, ME); Ilana Sabban (Miami Arts Charter, Miami, FL)

TEEN SEQUINS 2017, Day 1: “Sensitivity ” by Bella Komisarjevsky, AGE 13

Bella Komisarjevsky’s poem begins and ends with the same line, which echoes in a multitude of ways. At once self-deprecating, gloating, and knowing, Komisarjevsky’s “Sensitivity” is stronger for it, and more complex. “Honey drips from my mouth/and leaves a taste on everyone’s/tongue except yours(,)” but this poem has stuck in my mind since the first read. Komisarjevsky’s voice is one to follow. — Robby Auld


I must be so tiring.
Our tears mix in
a rain gutter kind of way
and each time I am reminded
that you and I are indescribably
different and how you’ll
never be so invested in me
as I am, you.
Honey drips from my mouth
and leaves a taste on everyone’s

tongue except yours
and now I’ve never wanted
you to like honey more.
I must be so tiring.

Bella Komisarjevsky is a published writer in 7th grade at Miami Arts Charter. She writes for fun and for school, and it is something she’s planning to pursue in the future.

Honorable mentions: Zora Brobbey (Ghana International School, Accra); Briana Gonzalez (Miami Arts Charter, Miami, FL); Bella Koschalk (Herbert Hoover Middle School, Potomac, MD); Jenny Wu (Lawson Middle School, Cupertino, CA)


A mouth full of honey, the voice of a prisoner; fish and fortune; foxtails and ghost mothers; marred light and boyhood—theses are glimpses of the outstanding poems we’re delighted to present in this year’s Teen Sequins feature.

2017 marks the third year of our celebration designed to honor teenage poets, and as usual, we could not be more grateful for the opportunity to read submissions from each and every inventive and brave young writer who has decided to trust us with their work. By presenting the work of teen writers with the platform of an internationally distributed print journal like Gigantic Sequins, we are singing from the rooftops that no matter your age or your experience, the literary world is yours.

This year, 126 teenage writers made our job very hard, which, as we’ve said in years past, is what every literary editor hopes for—to receive so much excellent work that it is difficult to choose just a few poems to present to the public. Our 2017 featured poets are Bella Komisarjevsky (13), Sarah Feng (14), Emily Tian (15), Jacqueline He (16), Sabine Holzman (17), Lucie Richter-Mahr (18), and Juniper Cruz (19). Each of these writers embrace and utilize language in a way that is uniquely compelling, thoughtful, and memorable. Engaging nature, mystery, identity, family and mythology, these poems truly shine. We hope that you will enjoy this week-long feature, as each day we present a new writer flinging open the windows of their imagination.

Happy reading, and happy writing.


Signing off, with gratitude,

Sophie Klahr and Robby Auld

Teen Sequins co-editors