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On Collaboration with Kenneth Lee

This month's featured memoir, "Track Changes in English," is part of our Collaborative Voices folio with Indiana Review and comes from Kenneth Lee. (Read it read it read it read it!) He recently took some time to talk about how he approached his essay as a collaboration (and to share a picture of his most excellent bookshelf, if you need additional reading inspiration!):

1) How did you define collaboration for the purpose of the Collaborative Voices folio?

When I was writing and revising for the folio, I was defining collaboration as a shared space between two different voices – My mom’s and mine. Our voices are sharing the same page, and even though I’m in control of the narrative in my writing, I was very conscious in making sure her voice was respected and loved throughout. Also, I feel deeply indebted to the writer Jennifer Lunden, whose essay, “Evidence, in Track Changes” inspired the form I took for my own work. Of course, sometimes there needs to be caution and care with this line of thinking, but influence is a form of collaboration as well, right? She was taking risks with form, introducing something truly innovative while exploring parental dynamics, and it really took a hold of me.

2) In the process of writing or revising your piece, what surprised you? Initially, the last page of so still contained my original line edits, and in the workshop I was in, it was suggested by a trusted friend of mine to leave that final page open, with no edits, free from a critical eye, as a maneuver of acceptance, as a way to grant understanding.That was the big "a ha" moment for me. It was a way to have form and content coalesce thematically for the ending, and I'm a little embarrassed I didn't come up with it on my own.


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