Not My White Savior

128p. Rare Bird. Mar. 2018. pap. $14.95. ISBN 9781945572432.
Lee tackles the white savior mentality that dominates attitudes about intercountry adoption (ICA) in this searing memoir in poems. Adopted by white Christians as a result of the Korean War, the poet explores her journey from Korea to Minnesota to Los Angles and dissects and dismantles, through potently wrought verse, the white supremacy that underlay her adoption and the adoption of approximately 200,000 Koreans and the continued injustice of ICA: "profiting from yellow babies/bought and sold/on the open market/to the tune of/fifty million/US dollars in annual sales and profits/and when we return/you offer us/$200 in reparations." There is much here for readers to unpack, and such skillfully crafted lines as "don't occupy my emotional space" are haunting in their sharpness. Poems like "The Sound of My Name Is Revolution," "Fuck You, White Barbie," and "My Ancestors Were Royalty" are sure to be reader favorites for their thoughtful, empowering stances. "My ancestors armed me/to shut you down/ignore your postured strut/insecure bullying." Battling homogenized narratives of gracious adoptees, Lee's debut provides a much-needed layered look at ICA and the ways that culture, trauma, white supremacy, assimilation, and the concept of home can intersect for people living this history.
VERDICT Collections that serve avid poetry readers will want to consider.

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