St. Olaf College | News

English professor awarded grant to support her second book of poetry

KwonDobbsJennifer300x425St. Olaf College Associate Professor of English Jennifer Kwon Dobbs has been awarded a $10,000 grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board to support the development and promotion of her second book of poetry, Three-Legged Bird.

The poetry to be included in this book focuses on the ongoing legacies of the Korean War, which Kwon Dobbs notes continues despite the United States and North Korea signing a ceasefire agreement in 1953. As a transnational Korean adoptee, Kwon Dobbs is interested in the issues that arise with Korean diaspora.

Her work as a policy analyst and advocate for transnational adoptees whose families had not naturalized their children into U.S. citizens influences her writing.

“While engaged in this work, I was haunted by the ways in which the unending Korean War and U.S. militarism continue to divide and separate Korean families north, south, east, and west, and I longed for a language that could provide wholeness, peace, reconciliation, and memory,” says Kwon Dobbs.

Her writing is also influenced by her work as faculty advisor of the Korean Culture Association, which Kwon Dobbs describes as one of her most rewarding experiences as a St. Olaf professor.

Kwon Dobbs says Oles are distinguished by their global perspective, curiosity, and commitment to making a difference. “My students inspire and motivate me to write poems that tackle tough questions,” she says.

The Minnesota State Art Board’s Artist Initiative grant is awarded to “artists at all stages of their careers, to support artistic development, nurture artistic creativity, and recognize the contributions individual artists make to the creative environment of the state of Minnesota.”

This year Kwon Dobbs will continue to write and revise her poetry in Three-Legged Bird. She will have many readings of her poetry this spring and summer. She recently did a reading at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis.

By the end of the yearlong grant period, she plans to have the manuscript ready to submit to her publisher.