Flinders University’s Creative Writing & English Seminar Series, speaker two: Kendrea Rhodes.
Just before Pa passed away, he whispered the words, “You can’t choose your family” to his five-year-old great-grandson. Pa, Kendrea’s grandfather, had little memory of his biological family after losing contact with them when he himself was five. The words he murmured to Kendrea’s son sparked a family history research project spanning decades.
Family myths spoke of Pa and his six siblings abandoned in 1924 at the Young and Jackson Hotel in Melbourne, creating a 6+ year gap between abandonment and adoption. The fiction portion of this project operates in that space, using institutional archive records as a basis. Those records revealed Pa’s mother (Kendrea’s great-grandmother) as having thirteen children and three husbands. And dotted throughout the records are frequent descriptions of her in neat cursive script using words like ‘mentally deficient’.
Nonfiction portions of this project follow Pa and Kendrea, employing memoir, critical theories, creative nonfiction, imagery and anecdote. This seminar focuses on the project’s structure, form and content, with both fiction and creative nonfiction readings.