2023 Right to Write Award Recipient: Erica Lee Smith

2023 Right to Write Award Recipient: Erica Lee Smith

About Erica Lee Smith

Erica Lee Smith was born on one peninsula (Korea) and raised on another (Cape Cod). For a decade in her twenties, she lived on a third (San Francisco), before returning to the Cape after her two older children were born. She works as a freelance writer and has had work published in several literary journals and anthologies.

Erica’s Personal Statement

I was adopted and raised in a white family in a predominantly white area. You speak English so well! is something I’ve heard my whole life. Even as a kid, I used to think, I write even better! Writing came easily and naturally to me and by the age of five, I was writing my own stories. It wasn’t something I ever consciously chose to do, it was never foisted upon me by well-meaning parents—I first recall losing myself in reading and then realizing that I could lose myself in writing my own stories as well. I have always had an interest in energy, specifically, what people are energetically drawn to, whether that’s a person, an activity, a place, or a particular experience. 

Having returned to Cape Cod now as an adult, a place I had only longed to get away from when I was younger, I have enjoyed a different relationship both with this place and my writing. This probably has less to do with the place changing (though it has), than my acceptance of myself, which in turn allowed for a release from the expectation of how I should be, which, for a non-white person in a white space, can be a very long laundry list. More recently, I have been involved in several groups (including Board of Directors for my mixed income neighborhood’s HOA, which was a mistake I will NEVER make again) where I was able to utilize my writing not just to get my own point across but to give the opportunity for others who had, up until then, felt their voices were ignored, the chance to be heard. I love that writing can serve so many different purposes, both individual and communal, and that it can speak to everyone, acting as a bridge to connect different people, different experiences.   

Read more about Writeability and the Right to Write Awards here.

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