Lantern Review: A Journal of Asian American Poetry
Issue 1 | June 2010

One of the major themes in Skirt Full of Black is adoption—specifically, the troubled history of Korean adoptees. In “Over the Course of Several Decades Following the Korean War, South Korea became the World’s Largest Supplier of Children to Developed Countries,” Shin manages to say so much in the title alone. Yet the poem speaks to this issue from a different angle, as it ends:

[…] Elsewhere (Norway, Australia)
another Korean
National bears the imprint
of my din. Cribs, nurse, hands, rice-milk, powder, down
& rocked—carefully dated
checks. American/Father
asks Why. We don’t speak. Years
burn to decades, this permanent
occupation (56).

Again, Shin’s use of “this” reverberates, referring to the theme of the poem itself, but also to the empowering act of writing. The theme of adoption becomes fleshed out more in the serial poem “SPEED,” as Shin returns to her collage-and-response method:

new generation of abandoned or orphaned
many of these children were Amerasians, fathered and left behind
by U.S. servicemen
as did their Vietnamese counterparts a decade or so later