November Adoptee Literature Folio

A special literary folio featuring poetry, fiction and an essay by Asian American adoptee writers. With poetry curated by Guest Editor Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello.
November 9, 2017

This November, in celebration and honor of National Adoption Awareness Month, the literature section is featuring the work of 15 extraordinary Asian American adoptees. Their poems, stories and essays are a moving showcase of the ways in which they've confronted, examined and celebrated their identities and experiences.

We are particularly grateful to adoptee poet Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello for guest-curating the 10 poets featured below. Below, you'll find her moving introduction to her portion of the folio as well as a table of contents with links to each piece. We hope this incredible group of writers inspires you as much as they've inspired us.

— Karissa Chen, Senior Literature Editor, Eugenia Leigh, Poetry Editor and Nicole Chung, Creative Nonfiction Editor


On Nov. 17, 2016, Adam Crapser was deported back to his birth country, South Korea, leaving behind his wife and three daughters. On May 21, 2017, Phillip Clay took his own life in South Korea after having also been deported. Neither of their adoptive parents had filed for U.S. citizenship. It was the first time in decades that the topic of adoption received national attention. Adoptees are four times more likely than non-adoptees to attempt suicide, which speaks to common feelings of invisibility and isolation. Adoptees are constantly overlooked in conversations about the Asian American immigrant narrative. Representation matters. Hearing from other adoptees who can normalize your own experience is important.

For this poetry folio, I reached out to a wide range of Asian American adoptees. I sought out voices both male and female, emerging and established, whose styles and content were as varied as their upbringings and worldviews. These 10 poems are by no means a comprehensive list. There are enough adoptee voices to fill a whole anthology. This folio is intended to raise awareness of the complexities of adoption, and it is my hope that whether or not you are an adoptee, you can recognize something of yourself in these poems.

— Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello, Guest Editor



Nick Carbo: "My Last Sestina
Bethany Carlson: "The heirloom of womanhood is a brutal crown
Christian Detisch: "Self-Portrait with Steve Prefontaine"
Lee Herrick: "Sun"
Jennifer Kwon Dobbs: “War Department Theater
Ansley Moon: “Girls
Tiana Nobile: “’Lost’ first language leaves permanent mark on the brain, new study reveals
Nicky Sa-eun Schildkraut: “Blackout"
신 선 영 Sun Yung Shin: “Migrations in Miniature
Leah Silvieus: “Field Elegy



Mark L. Keats: "Stockholm Syndrome"
Erinrose Mager: "The Beautiful City"
Matthew Salesses: "Yesterday They Raised"
Robert Yune: "Stop Hitting Yourself"


Creative Nonfiction

Susan Ito: "The Missing Half"



Karissa Chen


Karissa Chen is Editor-in-Chief of Hyphen magazine. She also serves as the Senior Literature Editor.