Atlas of Roots

By Beth Kope

Categories: Poetry
Imprint: Caitlin Press
Paperback : 9781773860510, 96 pages, January 2021

A poignant and courageous collection seeking love, belonging, and the truth following adoption.


Within us all are questions of identity, belonging, and connection. Beth Kope's third poetry collection, Atlas of Roots, is a work of the heart that uncovers the many facets of adoption. In poems that both witness and question, Kope shares her own quest to uncover family history and answers—finding her adoption records, questioning her parent's choices, and the truth of her own conception. Moving beyond the personal, Atlas of Roots shares other stories of adoption through the voices of other adoptees and parents of both relinquished and adopted children. In seeking a name and one's own story, Kope has written a striking and courageous narrative of adoption.


"Atlas of Roots sees Kope re-write her identity through a re-telling of myth. The poems are a filling-in of blanks and a de-coding of childhood. It's a naming story, an origin story, and a painful and personal archaeology. At its heart, Atlas of Roots is a riddle in which the poet both summons herself and answers herself. She tugs at the threads of her birth story while fearing it may unravel. Kope's poems are beautifully crafted and will unravel you, thread by thread."

—Adrienne Gruber, author of Q & A

"A brave, moving search for self and belonging. In her quest for her missing history, Kope uncovers the potency of metaphor and the healing powers of the imagination. Her explorations into the stories of fellow adoptees and the larger world of adoption ease back the curtains on a quietly fraught, widespread reality. A beautiful, complex, and gentle work of the heart."

—Anita Lahey, author of The Last Goldfish: A True Tale of Friendship

'"To enter the world of Atlas of Roots is to enter the world of mid-century adoption and the confusing days of a 1950s adoptee. Spinning wonder and spirals of absence, the uneasy core of human life, sorrow and loss, this collection cuts to the bone. It is heart-rending and tender, bringing us to the edge: the poet's 'experiment in identity'; her 'watching as shadows flinch past the fence.' Kope writes knowingly, feelingly, so we can know and feel. The collection brims with longing and learning to belong, 'but at the speed of yearning.' She claims that her tongue is rootless, but certainly her poetry is not: it will root in your memory, your mind, in your heart."

—Arleen Paré, author of Lake of Two Mountains