A North Bergen teacher decided last month that it was time to put her pen to paper and write about everything from her time in a South Korean orphanage to the funnier aspects of life.
Kristen Irene Mack, a Robert Fulton School teacher, said that she wouldn’t let her writer’s block hold her back any longer in April. Within three days, she completed “My Life in Rhyme: A Collection of Poems,” her autobiographical story set to prose.
“I poured my heart into both books, but in different ways.” – Kristen Irene Mack
“It was very cathartic for me to write about [some of the events of my life]. Sometimes it is hard when you have to relive those moments, but everything worked for the best in the end,” said Mack.
Growing up in Seoul
Mack, 34, a Secaucus resident, was born in Seoul, South Korea.
“I was born in South Korea to a very rural family and my sister and I were the youngest of eight children, seven surviving, and we were sent to an orphanage,” said Mack. “I guess when American kids were watching ‘Sesame Street’ and learning their ABCs, my sister and I were orphans.”
Mack said that both of her parents died when she was very young, but that she remembers her life before the orphanage as peaceful. She said that life in the orphanage, when she was four-years-old, was very difficult.
One of the poems in “My Life in Rhyme” deals with this transition.
“A Tribute to Shirley Jackson,” a poem that juxtaposes Mack’s life with the author’s story “The Lottery,” talks about how the villagers pelted her with rocks when they learned her family no longer had parents. The last line of the poem reads:
I was an orphan among many in a room
In Seoul, South Korea
With only my memories and a scar on my back
From when I won “The lottery”
Mack and her sister were adopted by a South Korean family, before being returned to the orphanage and adopted by her Secaucus family.
She said that it was a very “easy” change since they had “people who loved us.”
While the book starts on a somber note, it goes into her life in America, her fiancé, and her philosophies on life.
After delving into her past, Mack said she needed a “mental release,” so she wrote her second book “Down the Rabbit Hole” for a teenage audience.
“We’re still stuck in the MTV generation,” said Mack, who said she wrote about darker topics that she thought would engage a younger audience. The poems include “Gum at School,” “Teenage Mother,” and “Time Warped” just to name a few.
Mack included one poem titled “Suicide Prevention” because of a friend she had lost.
“It was very important for me to get the message out there,” said Mack, who said she gained some of her inspiration from her students.
Mack hopes to eventually turn this book into a graphic novel or short film.
“I poured my heart into both books, but in different ways,” said Mack.
She self-published the books on www.CreateSpace.com and the finished products are now on sale at www.Amazon.com.
Tricia Tirella may be reached at TriciaT@hudsonreporter.com.