AF Writing Workshops!
Podcasting has provided us with a wonderful medium to express ourselves, make sense of our experiences and identities, and connect with others.
We want to support and encourage other transracial adoptees to do the same. With funding from the Overseas Koreans Foundation we are delighted to offer this series of six free online writing workshops taught by some of our favourite Korean adoptee writers across different genres. These writers—and wonderful humans—responded enthusiastically to our request and have thoughtfully prepared workshops specifically for our listeners.
Writers of all ages (18+) and experience levels are welcome, though please note that some preparatory reading and/or reflection is required for some of the workshops. We hope to create safe, affirming spaces that inspire us to tell our own stories and develop confidence in our own creative practices.
Please note that workshop capacity is limited, and due to our funding requirements, priority will be given to Australian Korean adoptee participants. All workshop and registration details are below.
We hope you will join us in a Zoom room soon!
x Hana & Ryan
how to talk about food
Sunday 28th November at 10am KST / 12pm AEDT // Sat 27th November 5pm PT / 8pm ET
sign up here!
Other than breathing, food is one of the most common denominators to human existence that we have. And yet in spite of all this shared experience, when we are asked to put language around it, we often struggle to move beyond the immediate responses of how something tastes.
Either, “It’s good,” or “It’s bad.” Sweet, salty, spicy, sour. Saying something is delicious is such a personal feeling, that when presented to a broader audience, it is close to meaningless. The worst is to just say, “I like it.” Well, why do you like it? What are the next five words? The next ten? How do we build narratives out of something as simple as a bite?
And after figuring out how to talk about food, how do we use food to talk about our lives? Because when we begin to ask ourselves how we are hungry, the table is only the beginning of the question.
“When it’s taco time in Mexico City, here’s where to go” by Alonso Ruvalcaba
“The ineluctable return of the McRib” by Frances Lam
“What’s the Point of Food in Fiction?” by Adam Gopnik
“The Japanese Fried Rice Omelette That Rewired My Brain” by Bryan Washington
“Una Pizza Napoletana Returns to New York, With an Assist” by Peter Meehan
“Una Pizza Napoletana Sets a High Bar” by Hannah Goldfield
Kee Byung-keun is a writer living in Tokyo, Japan. Born in Seoul, South Korea (or thereabouts) around 1984 and then reared in the state of Louisiana, in the American South. He has written for Eater, Bon Appétit, Far/Near, and the dearly departed Lucky Peach. An ardent believer in the idea that more is more, he is closer to gourmand than gourmet. Meticulous reader of menus and avid grocery store enthusiast, food is both his mode and his medium.
Jenny Heijun Wills
fact and fantasy in adoptee creative non-fiction
Saturday 4th December at 10am KST / 12pm AEDT // Friday 3rd December 5pm PT / 7pm CST / 8pm ET
sign up here!
In this workshop, we will consider the ways non-fiction genres (in particular, memoir) are at times ill-suited for adoptee life-narrative.
What does it mean to write non-fiction when our lives sometimes feel unprovable, non-linear, and inconsistent? How do we represent ourselves, and our lives, when linguistic and cultural barriers might mean that our life histories are recounted through third parties--often translated--or are reduced to accommodate our limited levels of comprehension?
How do we dismantle mainstream/sentimental narratives about adoption from within? And should we have to always put ourselves under the spotlight to accomplish this?
Please come with a 100 word written introduction to your narrator/speaker in the first person voice.
Jenny Heijun Wills (she/her) is a multi-award winning creative writer and scholar whose most notable contribution is the Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize-winning Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related (Penguin Random House Canada, 2019). She is Professor of English at the University of Winnipeg, where she is also the 2020-2023 Chancellor’s Research Chair and Director of the Critical Race Network. Wills is a reunited Korean adoptee who was raised in Canada. She is currently writing two novels.
finding the fire, lifting our voices
Sunday 12th December at 10am KST / 12pm AEDT // Saturday 11th December 5pm PT / 8pm ET
sign up here!
Being Korean and adopted means, among many other things, there are people, places, and stories that are often unknown or blurred. This can prove challenging or even debilitating, but poetry can be a form of liberation.
In this workshop, we will discuss ways to locate our most burning questions or parts of ourselves and explore writing techniques to discover, shape, and lift our voices as adoptees.
We will examine poems by Sun Yung Shin and Jennifer Kwon Dobbs, learn craft elements that can unearth and grow our capacity for invention, and have time to write and share. This workshop is open to writers of all ages and experience levels.
Please read these three poems:
“Immigrant Song” by Sun Yung Shin
“Homage to the DMZ” by Jennifer Kwon Dobbs
“How Music Stays in the Body” by Lee Herrick
Please also think about a person (known or unknown), place, or story related to your adoption that haunts you or remains a question or unexplored part of your life. Or, it could be anything or anyone related to adoption: a birth or first parent or family member or other person, a place you have been or wanted to be, an artifact, a memory, a loss, an idea, a desire. It may be a difficult topic to explore, but often, the best writing comes from the hardest places. It will be a safe workshop place, but please bring a topic that you are comfortable sharing. We’ll use these as a springboard into our writing.
Lee Herrick is the author of three books of poems: Scar and Flower, finalist for the 2020 Northern California Book Award, Gardening Secrets of the Dead and This Many Miles from Desire. He is co-editor of the anthology The World I Leave You: Asian American Poets on Faith and Spirit (Orison Books). His writing appears widely in literary magazines, textbooks, and anthologies such as HERE: Poems for the Planet, with an introduction by the Dalai Lama; Indivisible: Poems of Social Justice, with an introduction by Common; One for the Money: The Sentence as Poetic Form; Dear America: Letters of Hope, Habitat, Defiance, and Democracy, and elsewhere. He served as Fresno Poet Laureate from 2015-201. Born in Daejeon, Korea and adopted to the United States at ten months, he teaches at Fresno City College and the MFA program at Sierra Nevada University.
writing for your audience
Sunday 9th January at 10am KST / 12pm AEDT // Saturday 8th January at 5pm PT / 7pm CDT / 8pm ET
sign up here!
You can’t control who reads your work, but you can control who you write for. In this session, we’ll identify our ideal audiences and think about how our choice of audience affects other elements of our writing. Involves reading, discussion, and writing exercises.
*This workshop will run for 1.5 hours.
Matthew Salesses is the author of the bestsellers The Hundred-Year Flood and Craft in the Real World, and the PEN/Faulkner finalist Disappear Doppelgänger Disappear, among other books. He was adopted from Korea and teaches creative writing in the MFA/PhD program at Oklahoma State University.
James Han Mattson
seeing ourselves in our characters
Saturday 22 January at 10am KST / 12pm AEDT // Friday 21 January 5pm PT / 7pm CST
sign up here!
As adoptees, and in particular, as cross-cultural adoptees, we’re in a constant state of identity flux. We often want to belong to particular tribes, but don’t quite know how, our upbringing in such contrast to how others perceive us. It can result in a somewhat confounding lived experience, never feeling like we quite belong anywhere.
In this workshop, we’ll discuss how we can take that decidedly fraught lived experience and transform it into story. More specifically, we’ll explore how we can use those feelings of flux and isolation to render characters with rich, interesting interior lives. Art and artist are in many ways inextricably linked, but many of us will write characters who aren’t adoptees, so how do we extract experience from our own life to depict the lives of others? What parts of ourselves infiltrate our fiction, and what self-examination is necessary to create complex, memorable characters who live vastly different lives from ourselves?
Please come prepared with a character sketch and a summary of a project you’re working on. If you’re not working on anything in particular, write about an idea for a project you’d like to pursue. The character sketch should include both biographical data (hometown, profession, age, race, etc) and psychological data (motivations, desires, hopes, fears, etc). The character sketch and the summary should be roughly 100 words each.
*This workshop will run for 2 hours.
James Han Mattson is a Korean adoptee who was born in Seoul and raised in North Dakota. He reunited with his birth family in 2009. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he is the award-winning author of two novels: The Lost Prayers of Ricky Graves and Reprieve, which was a Fall 2021 Book Pick by The New York Times, The L.A. Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Guardian, Esquire, Entertainment Weekly, and the TODAY show, among others. He is currently the fiction editor of Hyphen Magazine.
Mee Joo Kim
your story: aloud and in print
Sunday 6th February at 10am KST / 12pm AEDT // Saturday 5th February 5pm PT / 8pm ET
sign up here!
There are the stories we are given and the stories we tell ourselves. Some stories we believe, not necessarily because they are true. In this workshop, we will focus on story rather than the skill of writing and discuss why writing our stories in our own voices matter.
As the final session in this series, pieces from the previous workshops will be interwoven in our discussion on why writing our stories in our own voices matter. (Previous attendance at prior workshops is not necessary to join)
This workshop will be conducted in English and welcomes all levels of writing.
Come having written 250 words on the first time you recall encountering food from the place where you were adopted. Be prepared to share your writing and hold space for peers in an intimate workshop.
About Mee Joo:
Mee Joo Kim was adopted to an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and spent most of her adulthood living in South Korea working with Korean adoptees. She facilitates narrative life writing classes and coaches transnational, transracial adoptees.