Earlier this month, Beijing-born storyteller and essayist Yiyun Li came to Saint Mary’s for a craft talk and reading. One of the things she said is that we write to be in dialogue with writers whom we admire. Li’s words reminded me of something similar I heard in high school from a screenwriter, who said writers write because they love actors. I couldn’t agree more.
Before our summer hiatus, I wrote about feeling like I was finally a part of the Asian American movement in San Francisco after meeting Flo and Nellie Wong at an art exhibition last spring. After such a grandiose rush of historical connection, my thoughts have turned inward once again, mainly to ideas about persona and “the dialogical self.”
One of the first books of poetry recommended to me was Open House by Beth Ann Fennelly. In her long poem, “From L’hotel Terminus Notebooks,” her speaker has an internal argument with a man who represents the critic’s voice. The voice is antagonistic and imaginary, yet also a part of herself. Psychologist Hubert Hermans considers this, the relationship between all the disparate voices in our minds, to be “the dialogical self.” The self in dialogue.
Becoming Realer: Identity, Craft and the MFA is a column that explores issues of poetry, theory and writing craft in relation to the personal experiences of Saint Mary’s College of California Creative Writing MFA candidate and LR staff writer, Kelsay Myers.
One of the things that my advisor likes about living in San Francisco is that there’s something for everyone. She says that no matter how weird or specific the interest seems to be, people are able to find each other. Since moving to the East Bay, I’ve joined two organizations. One is the Association of Korean Adoptees | San Francisco (AKASF) that hosted a literary reading with Lee Herrick, Jo Rankin and some authors from the new More Voices anthology in May. It’s a large group of Korean adoptees celebrating and educating others on what it means to be a KAD. The other is the Asian American Women Artists Association (AAWAA) that sponsored the A Place of Her Own art exhibition at SOMArts, also in May, with the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center (APICC) for the 14th Annual United States of Asian America Festival. Twenty-three Asian American women artists responded to the question, “If you had a place of your own, what would it be?”