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Bloodwater Parish

Arden Eli Hill, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This dissertation includes a critical introduction which examines the collection, Bloodwater Parish, in the context of the identity markers of adoption, race, gender, and disability. Also included are a few poems. Throughout the poems, the words “biological” and “real,” are examined— the validity of their synonymousness challenged through an interrogation, in part, of what is invisible and visible. Biology and familial affiliation are juxtaposed in situations of mixed, mistaken, and mysterious identity. Bloodwater Parish begins at the root, with the relationship between biological mother and child, and complicates it by having the adopted speaker’s voice engage with this connection asking what stories the body can tell of the family’s past when the body is not inherited. While the speaker’s adoptive mother is mixed-race, the speaker is white. Through their stories, the poems acknowledge and examine whitnness as a racial marker. The speaker wrestles with how to be a part of family when one is also apart from family. The speaker possesses two lineages, one biological, one social and the right to tell the stories Bloodwater Parish tells from the perspectives it utilizes hinges on the way ancestors shape parents who thus consequently shape the child (adopted or not) because they, and now the child, are the result of both the ancestors’ experienced trauma and triumphs. The speaker and other characters in Bloodwater Parish are inheritors and they pass down inheritances that are rooted in more than blood. Similarly, the speaker jumps genders as birth sex and gender identity butt heads. This complicates the “real” “not real” dichotomies. Visible and invisible disability wind through the discourse in Bloodwater Parish as well. It is that liminal space between visible and invisible identity where the poet, to accurately present the self, must present multiple ways of constructing identity or having identity constructed. Bloodwater Parish joins and contributes to discussions of adoption as well as to conversations about how identity is determined. The collection is relevant to many established and emerging poetics as the importance of intersectionality is becoming increasingly acknowledged in academia and the public sphere.

Subject Area

Creative writing

Recommended Citation

Hill, Arden Eli, "Bloodwater Parish" (2017). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI10681583.