Sarah Audsley’s debut poetry collection, Landlock X, joins a growing body of adoptee poetics. By examining the consequences of the international transracial adoptee experience—her own—Audsley’s collection finds more questions than solid answers. Employing a variety of poetic forms, co-opting the pastoral tradition to argue for belonging to the rural landscape—despite the inheritance of displacement and removal from a country of origin—Landlock X tries to solve for all of the (adoptee’s) variables and knows it is an impossible task that the “I”, “you”, and “we” of the poems only approximate.
“…it roams colors, oceans, flowers, the black holes of lineage and nation(s), and stands its ground.”
About the Author
SARAH AUDSLEY, a Korean American adoptee raised in rural Vermont, has received support from The Rona Jaffe Foundation, Vermont Studio Center, Banff Centre’s Writing Studio, and a Creation Grant from the Vermont Arts Council. Her work appears in New England Review, The Cortland Review, Four Way Review, The Massachusetts Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Pleiades, and elsewhere. A graduate of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and a member of The Starlings Collective, she lives and works in Johnson, VT.
“In Landlock X, Sarah Audsley makes of lyric an intimate journey toward an impossible beginning. Toward what it means to belong, to see (and be seen), to insist on connection—fraught and forged—in and through profound severance. I am so moved by how, where reclamation may not be an option, Audsley intervenes with imagination, intellectual and emotional breadth, and courage, to ‘choose [her] own extent.’ This work simultaneously indicts and consoles; it roams colors, oceans, flowers, the black holes of lineage and nation(s), and stands its ground. ‘Almost drowning is touching creation,’ writes the poet, and I am compelled to reconsider the solidities I take for granted. To be alive.”—Cynthia Dewi Oka, author of Fire Is Not a Country
“Say the answer to the impossible equation is X. Now, let’s say you are solving for your life, an origin that feels constructed of absence. Such is the ferocity with which Sarah Audsley’s brave debut moves, formally active in its interrogation; it is as if somewhere—in poetry, in art, in translation—there is a combination for righting the painful history of adoption, for learning to live simultaneously with and against. ‘Why even now do I practice this insistence on beauty?’ the poet asks. And I cannot say how glad I am she does insist. As difficult as the subject matter is, these poems move me toward a kind of relief. ‘It’s never just enough to love.’ Landlock X is the evidence.”—Sally Keith, author of River House
“‘Nothing about hunger is passive,’ writes Sarah Audsley in this deft debut. That a poet as versed in detail and Image would choose to write within the pastoral tradition is not surprising. What surprises, however, is the way Audsley uses the pastoral as a vehicle to express many griefs: loss of a mother; loss of a country; loss of a culture; and even loss of a way of life. Despite an abundance of grief, Landlock X stands not as simple elegy but as a triumph of the self. This is a powerful collection.”—C. Dale Young, author of Prometeo
“Sarah Audsley’s Landlock X is a book I wish I had been able to read years ago. With language sharp and lucid as a cut gem, these poems spin the yellows of hay and light into gold and pursue difficult questions and answers without flinching. Audsley’s precise excavations of personal history, through archival images and such forms as the sijo and haibun, examine what facts remain after erasure and translation have scraped away at memory. In this brilliant field of poems, each moon is a face or a flipped rabbit, the distances between ‘I’ and ‘you’ and ‘X’ are measurable, and home becomes strange as strangers become home. This book calls across time and oceans and listens for your response. ‘[Y]ou, dear adoptee, are not alone. / I am lonely, too.’”—Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello, author of The Hour of the Ox