Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Panel on Adoption Writing at National Writing Conference

Last week I attended the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference in DC, and was surprised to find a panel on writing about adoption. Normally I only see those discussions at adoption-specific conferences, so it had me wondering if adoption writing is becoming more mainstream. The panel was called "Finding Identity in Cultural Margins: A Reading and Discussion on Transracial Adoption" and featured Korean-American poets Dana Collins, Jennifer Kwon Dobbs, and Lee Herrick. (Two AA memoirists were scheduled to participate but couldn't make it due to weather.)

Dobbs read from her book Paper Pavilion, containing poems written before and after she visited Korea. Dana Collins read poems about connecting with her family abroad, specifically a sister. The essence of poetry, of course, lies not in what it's about but rather in its words, the images it conjures, the emotion it renders. Dobbs poetry to me is like a breath. It is ethereal, imaginative, stern. She dreams about pulling back a curtain and seeing her own conception. Collins poetry describes contrast and bright colors--it is a painting, a bright red cherry atop a white cupcake.

Why are so many adoptees drawn to write? The writers explained that "For transracial adoptees, separation from biological lineage leads to searching for what defines family and home." Keyword: search. To write is to search. To search for answers, to make real an experience of unremembered separation. In many ways we are blocked from searching for our families, due to sealed records, rules/regulations, or even our own emotions. But nothing can block someone from searching on the page for answers, for an image to rest against when you can't find your mother's arms. 

3 comments:

Amanda said...

Interesting! I was just reading about writing one's own narrative in one of Katrina Wegar's books. She quotes Jean Patton who (paraphrase) said "is there any other group [adoptees] who is so silent?" I think that's changing. For me, it is about taking control of my own narrative. A narrative that was once written by others when my life pre-adoption were unverifiable details passed on by word of mouth, but now belongs to me.

Kate said...

hi Libby! I really like what you write here: "To write is to search. To search for answers, to make real an experience of unremembered separation." So true and necessary for so many of us...
Kate

Christopher Arnold said...

Hey, it's Chris, the guy from the panel before the Adoption panel. Great to meet you! This is an awesome blog. Keep up the good work and stay in touch.