These are things that I know about myself: My birth mother left me in a cardboard box on a doorstep in San Diego. I was adopted when I was ten weeks old. I have two older brothers who were also adopted. I am Filipina-American, but my family is not.
As a teenager, I developed an interest in learning about my Filipino culture so I joined student organizations throughout high school and college. While I enjoyed learning about my culture and history, I also found that these organizations would become spaces for me to explore the complex nature of my identity and my experiences with racism and discrimination. I feel extremely blessed to have parents who understood and supported my need to learn about my culture.
HOW HAS THE ADOPTION EXPERIENCE AFFECTED YOUR POETRY?
A lot of my work explores notions of race and identity through this lens of my experience as a transracial adoptee. I often think about the ways in which we name or label and what it means to belong to certain categories or communities. How do we reconcile the ways in which these labels can be both empowering and limiting? My work is almost always in conversation with my experience as an adoptee since I tend to write about issues of containment, abandonment, and belonging. I believe that being adopted is a huge part of why I write.
PLEASE SHARE A SAMPLE POEM(S) ADDRESSING (IN PART) ADOPTION:
This story is secretively about boxes and more obviously about food. Because food analogies are effective. Crack an egg on the griddle and yellow will ooze into white. Says Marilyn Chin. Oreo. Coconut. Twinkie. Is there no neutral snack? And how will you eat your snack? Use a spork. If I were a snack, I might be Siopao. A steamed bun that looks like just a bun but has a meaty inside. Hot Pockets got a hold of the concept and called them Sideshots. Then I could more accurately be called Sidepao. Or maybe I just want to be delicious like a red velvet cupcake. I would like to own a bar or a club. This bar or club would not really exist, but the kids would be tweeting and making Facebook events about it just to get in. Posted on the front doors would be an extensive list of requirements for entry: experience with or an affinity for hip-hop, Nikes, karaoke, rice, nursing school, imported cars, anime, Cherice Pempengco. Of course there would be separate lists for men and women. Maybe some fill-in-the-blanks. And everything stops for a moment because Manny Pacquiao is on 60 Minutes. Someone’s great anecdote is about how every announcer can now pronounce his name. The 60 Minutes guy says something about the crime rates going down in the Phils cause the police and criminals alike take breaks to watch the “Pacman”. I changed the channel. I ate some chicken and didn’t pray to the bones.
ABOUT THE POET:
Allison Moreno is a Filipino-American poet from San Diego. Currently, she is an MFA Candidate in Writing at University of California San Diego. Her work has been featured in “Pieces of Me: Who do I Want to Be?”, EMK Press (an anthology of work by and for adopted youth) as well as In the Grove: California Poets and Writers and San Diego Poetry Annual (both forthcoming 2011).