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You Wish You Were This Fierce In College: Our Interview With Rachel Rostad of Macalester

Remember college? No? We don’t either. Remember being this passionate? No? We don’t ever remember being this passionate.

Korean adoptee Rachel Rostad came to our attention through Lost Daughters. We really liked what we saw, and so we approached her for a chat. She graciously agreed, which is totally sweet because, well, she now gets acclaim from the likes of Angry Asian Man, Hyphen Magazine, etc.  Remember being mentioned by these types of folks/places? We don’t either… Enjoy!

Land of Gazillion Adoptees: Where did you grow up?

Rachel: I grew up in Sartell, MN, a suburb of St. Cloud, MN.

LGA: Sartell! Okay, why Macalester? And what inspired you to join the college’s slam poetry team?

Rachel: I chose Macalester because the college’s values of multiculturalism and community service really resonated with me.

As for why I started doing this art form, I first encountered slam poetry at one of Macalester’s monthly slams and was absolutely blown away. The featured poets were Rachel McKibbens and Mindy Nettifee. Pretty sure I cried and afterwards, I sent them both really awkward Facebook messages! I started going to all the slams and began writing slam poems, and I competed for a spot on the team and got it. I had experience with writing and performing, so it felt like a natural bridge between the two art forms. What I realized later is that the Twin Cities has one of the best slam poetry scenes in the nation, and I was really lucky to encounter the art form where I did.

LGA: We LOVE your poem “Adoption,” which the Citypages posted. How did it come about? What’s the message?

Rachel Rostad from Voice Media Group on Vimeo.

Rachel: Thanks! I actually originally wrote the poem addressed to a generalized audience — to the random people at restaurants who would stare at my family, or those who seemed to pity me because I was adopted. Then I realized that it would be much more powerful and specific if I kept it within my own family. I love my grandparents, but it’s been painful at times. To be absolutely clear, the poem is less about being angry with my grandma than being overwhelmingly joyful to be with my mom, dad, and brother.

LGA: What are you working on these days? Do you have any works you’d like to share?

Rachel: I’m not working on anything new right now — the college slam season just finished so I’m definitely in recovery mode!

LGA: Cool. What would you like to say to younger adoptees who are aspiring poets?

Rachel: To aspiring slam poets I would say – go on Youtube! Watch works by important slam poets. It’s impossible to write well if you don’t even know what’s in your medium. And if you’re lucky enough to live in an area that has open mics and poetry slams, attend! Find someone to workshop you. Ultimately the best way to become a good slam poet is to expose yourself to the art form as much as possible, and see what personally works for you and what doesn’t. And be open to criticism. You’ll get a lot of that. Acknowledge and address the points you think are fair, and ignore the rest!

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  1. Talking Back to White Creators: Rachel Rostad’s “To J.K. Rowling, From Cho Chang” | thenerdsofcolor

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