Books Editor Leah Silvieus is a poet, writer and yacht chief stewardess who writes and works between Florida and New York. She is the author of Anemochory (Hyacinth Girl Press) and has a second chapbook forthcoming from Bull City Press in 2018. She is a Kundiman Fellow and holds an MFA from the University of Miami.
For years, I skulked along the edges of the adoptee community. I read anything I could find by adoptees and combed online forums about adoption late at night wondering how these people could be so open about their adoption or frustration with their birth or adoptive families — how they could reach out to complete strangers over the Internet for support. I resisted talking about my own adoption, even with my adoptee friends.
Vietnamese American poet Duy Doan, the 2017 winner of the Yale Younger Poets prize, first came to love poetry, as many poets do, by finding a poem that he was immediately drawn to as a young person. In an eighth-grade English class, Doan received an assignment to select and memorize a poem. He recalls selecting one from a chapter titled “Bad Poetry and Good” from the class’s textbook, Sound and Sense, by Laurence Perrine.
Chapbooks spread in popularity during the Early Modern period in Europe, peddled by “chapmen” who traveled from town to town. They were small, coverless pamphlets often comprising a single folded page. They detailed current events; told tales of chivalry, mystery or magic; and spread moral instruction. They were inexpensive to produce and gained popularity as literacy increased among the lower classes but printed books remained affordable only to the aristocracy.
This year marks the 20th birthday of Seeds from a Silent Tree, the first anthology by Korean American adoptee poets, which was published in 1997. Within a decade of its release, poetry collections written by Korean adoptees emerged, including Lee Herrick’s This Many Miles from Desire, Sun Yung Shin’s Skirt Full of Black and Jennifer Kwon Dobbs’ Paper Pavilion in 2007.
“Even if I shame myself, / please be kind to me,” E.J. Koh entreats an unidentified listener in “Showtime,” the opening poem of her poetry collection, A Lesser Love, winner of the Pleiades Press Editors Prize for Poetry. The speaker’s vulnerability in these poems often draws the reader into the position of intimate witness, even confessor, as she addresses a series of “yous” who are at turns parents, ghosts, and lovers, and who sometimes remain unidentified.
The topaz gemstone is pleochroic; that is, it appears as different colors when viewed from various angles.