Bunkong Tuon

Why I Chose Literature

It was Mr. Henry
who told me to stand up
when I received the highest
grade on my Algebra test.
He lectured to the class
about how I had escaped war,
poverty, and hunger,
about how I had worked hard
and achieved success.

The lesson was supposed
to embarrass my classmates
into working hard, but I’m afraid
it only encouraged them
to punch my face
even harder, after school.

** This poem was previously published in Gruel (NYQ Books)


Bunkong Tuon teaches writing and literature at Union College, in Schenectady, NY. Gruel, his full-length poetry collection, was published in 2015 (NYQ Books). His second poetry collection, And So I Was Blessed, is forthcoming.