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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Pitt-Bradford writing professor publishes third book, three essays


BRADFORD, Pa. – Dr. Nancy McCabe’s third book, “Crossing the Blue Willow Bridge: A Journey to My Daughter’s Birthplace in China,” will be published next month by the University of Missouri Press.

McCabe is an associate professor of writing and director of the writing program at Pitt-Bradford. The book is on Amazon.com and other online booksellers.

The book is a follow-up to McCabe’s 2003 book, “Meeting Sophie: A Memoir of Adoption,” about the adoption of her daughter from China.

“Crossing the Blue Willow Bridge” began with a “homeland visit” by the McCabes in the fall of 2008, in which they visited the region of China from which Sophie was adopted.

McCabe said she used the trip as a framework for exploring other issues of parenting, interracial and intercultural families and international adoption, including addressing a child’s feeling of connection to multiple heritages.

Heritage trips, particularly to China, have become a rite of passage for many children adopted from outside the United States, McCabe said, but there is little in the way of existing literature on the trips.

The McCabes traveled with a company that organizes heritage trips. While much of the trip involved standard tourism with visits to a school and historical and cultural sites, the tour company also arranged for Sophie to participate in activities that a child in China would – such as flying a kite in Tiananmen Square.

But such trips, McCabe said, are not vacations.

“They can be infused with a lot of tension,” she said, explaining that children feel connection to the home country and may briefly reject their parents to see what it’s like to finally blend in. Parents can’t help wondering how their children would be different if they’d been raised in their home country.

But the conflicts were replaced with awe for both mother and daughter when the pair returned to the small village from which Sophie was adopted and met a man who had cared for her as an infant.

An excerpt from the book appears in the current issue of Prairie Schooner. The excerpt includes part of the prologue and a chapter about tracking down a man in China who took care of Sophie when she was an infant.

Two other top-notch literary magazines have essays by McCabe in their current issues.

Crazyhorse features “Before and After” about a relationship McCabe had with a mute man as a young woman. It is part of a larger memoir.

“This is a really traditional story and totally different from the kind of more experimental essay I’ve been doing recently,” she said.

“Cycling” appears in the newest issue of Crab Orchard Review. The essay is about a bicycling trip around Niagara Falls and her relationship with her mother.

Earlier this year, McCabe was a visiting writer at the University of Rhode Island for “Crossing Borders: Women Writing Their Lives,” which featured visits from four women writers.

In addition to “Meeting Sophie,” McCabe’s previous work includes “After the Flashlight Man: A Memoir of Awakening.” She also teaches in the brief-residency master of fine arts program in creative writing at Spalding University.

Her work has appeared in literary journals and mainstream media, and she has won several awards, including a Pushcart Prize for memoir.

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