kaya publishes books of the asian pacific diaspora

✚Other Authors

Nicky Sa-eun Schildkraut

Nicky Sa-eun Schildkraut is a poet and literary critic living in Los Angeles. As a Korean-American adoptee (KAD), her creative and scholarly work reflects an ongoing interest to explore the emotional and historical aspects of the Korean diaspora as well as transnational adoption.  Previously, she has collaborated on avante-garde music and art projects with music composers and visual artists. She holds an M.F.A. degree in poetry (2002) and a Ph.D. degree in Literature & Creative Writing from the University of Southern California (2012). In addition to teaching college writing, she is working on a second book of poetry, Until Qualified For Pearl, and a non-fiction collection of essays, The Precarity of Adoption, about transracial adoption narratives.


Magnetic Refrain

Kaya Press 2013

Adopted from Korea at the age of two, Schildkraut’s writings seek to both unsettle and complicate presumptions about what ties people together in times of longing and loss. Her provocative and intensely lyrical poems draw upon personal experiences as well as the larger Korean diaspora—particularly its women. In these explorations of war brides, defectors, birth mothers, and other adoptees, Schildkraut searches for a formal expression that embraces refrain as both song and restraint. Using the language and imagery of myth, political slogans, avant-garde films, and psychological texts, these poems destabilize the concepts of identity and citizenship, making them strikingly new.


“Nicky Schildkraut resutures personal and national history with clear-eyed precision. She retells Korean folktales as compassionate feminist lyric, gives sonorous voice to comfort women, and reveals—via prose and fractured verse—her own intimate tales of adoption.  Her voice is haunted and captivating as she meditates on the “missing persons” of history. A hypnotic and moving debut.”

– Cathy Park Hong, author of  Dance Dance Revolution

Magnetic Refrain is a book filled with fables, proverbs, prophecies, and myths into which personal and family history are interwoven. In this radiant debut collection, female life and the experience of transnational adoptees are treated with the same power and imaginative force as the classic tales of Eurydice or Hansel and Gretel. Here, narratives accumulate and resonate, braiding individual into archetypal and collective memory. It is a beautiful, and magnetizing, collection.”

 Paisley Rekdal, author of The Invention of the Kaleidoscope

“The grand spirit that has re-imagined each of these whole lost worlds out of a “history that you couldn’t bear/. . .but saw bursting in dream,/ blood thinned by water” is both master and prisoner of its own luscious longing. These are gorgeous poems full of acumen, anti-entropy, and desire. In the Landscape of Literature, this book is a critical Bering Strait. Human, animal, ghost—in whichever direction you’re dreaming, travel by it.”

 Ed Bok Lee, author of Whorled, winner of the American Book Award

“These poems breathe into the shell of diasporic desire, and allow us to witness the speaker’s first flickering attempts toward animation and fullness.”

– Jai Arun Ravine, review in Lantern Review

“Anyone who has lived between two cultures, anyone who has yearned to belong, cannot fail to be moved by Nicky Schildkraut’s auto-poetic journey to reclaim a lost narrative of her life.”

Bruce Fulton, professor at University of British Columbia

Nicky Sa-eun Schildkraut news

Nicky Sa-eun Schildkraut on the International Examiner

Kaya poet Nicky Sa-eun Schildkraut was recently featured on International Examiner in an interview with Bruce Fulton! In the Q&A Nicky discusses how her identity as a Korean adoptee has influenced her writing and how this manifests in her poetry collection Magnetic Refrain, which was published by Kaya Press last year. “Being in-between,” she says, “is what compels so […]

Giant Robot Presents: An Evening with Ed Lin + traci kato-kiriyama + Nicky Sa-eun Schildkraut

Two Kaya authors, Ed Lin (Waylaid, This is a Bust) and Nicky Sa-eun Schildkraut (Magnetic Refrain), will be joining traci kato-kiriyama Friday August 15 for a memorable evening of readings at Giant Robot. And who else will be MC-ing but our very own managing editor, Neelanjana Banerjee! It’ll likely turn into a standing-room only crowd, but […]

Kaya Turns 20 in San Francisco

Kaya Press celebrates 20 years of publishing innovative Asian Pacific American and Asian diasporic literature in San Francisco, April 16 – 19, in conjunction with the Association for Asian American Studies Conference. Kaya 20th Anniversary Reading at City Lights Bookstore | Thursday April 17 | 7:30 p.m. | 261 Columbus Avenue at Broadway Come to […]


Literature lovers far & wide: Come visit the Kaya Press and USC Master of Professional Writing Program’s SMOKIN’ HOT LIT LOUNGE (Booth 380 in Founders Park) at the LA Times Festival of Books! Dedicated to books, writing, independent publishing, and FUN: our booth features interactive lit activities for all ages, LA’s finest small presses, and a […]