Saturday, June 25, 2005

Korean Adoptee Literature

In 1997, Jo Rankin and Tonya Bishoff co-edited a landmark anthology of writing by Korean Adoptees called Seeds from a Silent Tree. It is a moving collection of poems, stories, and essays by 30 adoptees on a range of subjects affecting international adoptees--attachment, identity, coummunity and loss, anger. It is significant because it is the first anthology of its kind but also because it protrays such realistic and honest viewpoints, not the slickly produced horror stories for sensationalist television or the "don't worry be happy, life is a bowl of cherries" dramatic opposite viewpoint that the adoptee's life is pure bliss.

I was very proud to be part of this anthology. Since its publication, several others have been published, and a new publisher, Truepeny Publishing, has graciously accepted some of my poems for its forthcoming anthology of writing from Korean adoptees worldwide. Rankin and Bishoff's book was one of the earliest times where I felt accepted. Imagine growing up in a town where there weren't many Asians (much less adoptees) and then being published in an anthology of twenty-nine other people whose birth circumstance was actually somewhat similar to your own. It was a great turning point for me.

Anyway, enough rambling about that. Check out Seeds from a Silent Tree.


Bryan Thao Worra said...

I'd say check out the work of Sun Yung Shin, lately in MN. I like a lot of her work. She maintains a website at Right now it's demonstrating her children's book, but people ought to take more of a look at her poetry.

Another writer to check out is Jane Jeong Trenka, known for the recent Language of Blood. is the website for Korean Quarterly, and they're a group of people who are usually on top of both Korean and Korean Adoptee literature as well.
The print edition is very good usually.

They don't keep an online archive of back issues unfortunately, but they're usually pretty nice and responsive to pertinent questions. It's really a very beautifully printed newspaper- exceptionally professional and consistent.

Lee Herrick said...

Korean Quarterly is excellent. I have written articles and a few book reviews for them, and they have published a few of my poems as well. Stephen Wunrow is a remarkable photographer, and their magazine is always intriguing and informative. I know of Jeong Tronka, and I will check out Sun Yung Shin. Thanks for the tips, Bryan. Hope all's well.