“Kitchen Ghosts” by Samantha Lê published in Copper Nickel

In this poem about mental illness, there’re two speakers weaving their thoughts together into one tapestry of consciousness. Mother and daughter shared the same narrative of shame and guilt as each started out as the inadequate caregiver who then became the confused, frightened patient. As the disease threaded its way through the generations, their history of pain and secrecy repeated itself.

[…] Your dough palm
covers my face and silences
closed-lid admissions.
Listen.
A history of mothers
and daughters splitting
into halves the way
of green apples.
[…]

Read complete poem at: “Kitchen Ghosts.” Copper Nickel  (University of Colorado Denver), Denver, CO, Issue No. 29, Fall 2019, pp. 128-129. Copper Nickel is a national literary journal was founded by poet Jake Adam York in 2002 and housed at the University of Colorado Denver. Work published in Copper Nickel has appeared in the Best American Poetry, Best American Short Stories, Best Small Fictions, and Pushcart Prize anthologies, and has been listed as “notable” in the Best American Essays anthology.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

“In the Presence of the Kitchen Gods” by Samantha Lê published in Copper Nickel

In this simple poem about limitations and boredom, we see a woman’s life reduced to the daily tasks of cleaning a house, but in the mundane minutes of that stalled life there’s still a glimmer of hope, for she dances when she sweeps.

She sweeps evening dust
off grout lines with the straw
broom that hangs like sadness
behind the old fridge.

[…]
The only time she looks
as if she were dancing
is when she stirs air into dirt.
[…]

Read complete poem at: “In the Presence of the Kitchen Gods.” Copper Nickel (University of Colorado Denver), Denver, CO, Issue No. 29, Fall 2019, pp. 130. Copper Nickel is a national literary journal was founded by poet Jake Adam York in 2002 and housed at the University of Colorado Denver. Work published in Copper Nickel has appeared in the Best American Poetry, Best American Short Stories, Best Small Fictions, and Pushcart Prize anthologies, and has been listed as “notable” in the Best American Essays anthology.

Photo by Steve Rybka on Unsplash

Art Exhibition: Brushstrokes 2019 Comes to Cambria

If you missed it last fall in San Luis Obispo, you have another chance in Cambria…

For this exhibition, I’ll be featuring a series of four Cuba-inspired paintings:  

  1. “Portrait of a Cuban Woman” (22″ x 18″, watercolor on paper)
  2. “Young Boy in Blue Sweater” (9″ x 12″, watercolor on paper)
  3. “Papa (Hemingway)” (8″ x 24″, acrylic on canvas)
  4. “The Old Woman and the Sea” (8″ x 24″, acrylic on canvas)

SAVE THE DATE!
The Opening Reception is on Saturday, January 11, 2020 (4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.) at the Cambria Center for the Arts Gallery See you there!

Exhibition date: January 9 – 19, 2020
Where: Cambria Center for the Arts Gallery (1350 Main St, Cambria, CA 93428) 

This event is free to the public.

Photo by Raychan on Unsplash

Art Exhibition: MBAA Annual Juried Exhibit – 2019

Join me for a national art event!

MBAA juried event is a collective of exceptional paintings spanning the United States. Many of the artists are internationally acclaimed. In addition, MBAA will feature the three dimensional art of Guyla Amyx. My selected painting is titled “Kitchen Waltz,” (22″ x 18″, mixed media).

SAVE THE DATE!
Opening Reception and Award Ceremony is on Sunday, September 22, 2019 (2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.) at the Art Center Morro Bay. See you there!

Exhibition date: September 19—October 29, 2019
Where: Art Center Morro Bay (835 Main Street, Morro Bay, CA  93442)
Juror: Dennis Curry

This event is free to the public.

Photo by Deanna J on Unsplash

Art Exhibition: Brushstrokes 2019

Join me for my first art exhibition!

Brushstrokes is a biennial California-wide juried exhibition, and my painting that was selected is entitled “Portrait of a Cuban Woman,” 18″ x 22″, watercolor.

SAVE THE DATE!
Opening Reception and Award Ceremony is on Friday, September 6, 2019 (6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.) at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art. See you there!

Exhibition date: September 6—October 27, 2019, 
Where: San Luis Obispo Museum of Art (1010 Broad St, San Luis Obispo, California 93401) 
Juror: 
Jerry McLaughlin

This event is free to the public.

Photo by Adrien Olichon on Unsplash

NaNoWriMo Write-in Session Recap

You always meet with something surprisingly great when you give a little bit of yourself. I facilitated my first NaNoWriMo write-in session yesterday and found the experience inspiring and uplifting.

My workshop on “character development” turned into a lively discussion about character history, motivations, conflicts and evolution. We also touched on the relationship between the writer and his/her characters, as well as the challenges of knowing when to let your characters run free and when to reign them back. Everyone in the room offered unique insights to the discussion, and when it was over, I was bubbling with new ideas for my own work and a re-energized outlook on my place in the world as a writer. 

Read: Tips on Character Development in Novel Writing

I want to give a shout-out to everyone who came out to write with us yesterday. We writers tend to be cave creatures, but when we do emerge and come together to examine and appreciate the thing that we love, the craft to which we give so much of our selves, magic happens.

Thank you to Erica Thatcher at the SLO Library for putting the event together. And a huge thanks to Megan Barnhard for putting out a vlog about what she found helpful about the session. Watch Megan’s vlog: My First NaNo Day 19: Character Evolution.

Write-on NaNoWriMo-ers! There’s only a few days left to meet your goal, but think of what you’ve already accomplished.

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” 

― Ernest Hemingway

NaNoWriMo 2018 Workshop

action-adult-analog-1043512If you get your kicks from discussing the mannerisms, behaviors and back stories of people who don’t exist, then I’m your gal!

I’ll be leading a workshop on character development as well as facilitating the National Novel Writing Month session on Tuesday, November 20, 2018 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m at the San Luis Obispo Library (995 Palm St.). Come with your novel and spend the afternoon writing with your fellow novelists.

Write on NaNoWriMo-ers!

This event is free to the public.

 

2018 San José Poetry Festival

The Fourth Annual San José Poetry Festival, a celebration of diversity and cultural heritage, will begin with a day of readings and performances on Saturday, October 13, 2018, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Blessing/Invocation (9-9:30 a.m., Markham House): Kanyon Sayers-Roods
  • Yuki Teikei Haiku Society (9:30-10:20 a.m., Renzel Room)
  • Pranita Patel & Aparna Ganguly (10-10:50 a.m., Firehouse)
  • VeteransWrite (10:30-11:20 a.m., Renzel Room)
  • Keynote Address (11:30-12:20 p.m., Markham House): Matthew Zapruder;
  • Lunch (12:20-1:30 p.m.)
  • Yosimar Reyes (1:40-2:30 p.m., Firehouse)
  • Samantha Lê & Barbara Jane Reyes (2:00-2:50 p.m., Renzel Room)
  • Kalamu Chaché & Lisa Rosenberg (2:40-3:30 p.m., Firehouse)
  • MK Chavez & Yaccaira Salvatierra (3:00-3:50 p.m., Renzel Room)
  • Spoken Word (4:00-5:00pm, Markham House)

San José Poetry Slam & Yesika Salgado (7:00-10:00 p.m. Works/San José)

Saturday small press fair and author tables, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


2018 San José Poetry Festival presented by Poetry Center San Jose
When: Saturday, October 13, 2018 (9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.)
Where: The Edwin Markham House in History Park (1650 Senter Road, San José, CA)

Please visit Poetry Center San José for October 14 workshop information and ticket information.

“Down River” by Samantha Lê published in The Journal

A young girl watched her big sister from across the riverbank as she threw their pet dog into the water, where he was carried off and drowned.

His rag body swung
into the swells
of her rage.

The big sister denied this memory, but the young girl insisted on remembering.  And though time marches on, it cannot erase this betrayal that has wedged itself between them once upon a time when they were both still young.

Big sister and I stood
on opposite banks
The phantom stink of water
coated the inside of our mouths.
We tried to gag it out,
but it lingered.

art-beautiful-beauty-1229771.jpg

“Down River.”  The Journal (The Ohio State University), Columbus, OH, Volume 42 Issue No. 3, Summer 2018, pp. 48. The award-winning literary journal of The Ohio State University, The Journal has recently had poems reproduced in the Best American Poetry anthology.  Founded in 1973 by William Allen The Journal has published prominent writers such as Carl Phillips, Mary Jo Bang, John D’Agata, Terrance Hayes, Lia Purpura, Ander Monson, Brenda Hillman, D.A. Powell, Jericho Brown, and Donald Ray Pollack.

“Phôi Pha (Wither)” by Samantha Lê published in The Journal

“Phôi Pha (Wither)” is a poem about old age, about being the only one left to tend to the dead, about there being no one left to send you off when your journey begins again.

no one left to burn spirit money
and paper houses
incense dust grows into ant hills

The subject of the poem remembers her youth, when she once was the “village beauty …body pink and firm as pomelo flesh.”

[…] she recalls
girlhood dreams the way a fictional
woman remembers love faithful
to an altered truth

If all that she is are her memories, then how is her existence defined now that all the witnesses to her life are gone?

grayscale photography of brown and black bench

“Phôi Pha (Wither).”  The Journal (The Ohio State University), Columbus, OH, Volume 42 Issue No. 3, Summer 2018, pp. 47. The award-winning literary journal of The Ohio State University, The Journal has recently had poems reproduced in the Best American Poetry anthology.  Founded in 1973 by William Allen The Journal has published prominent writers such as Carl Phillips, Mary Jo Bang, John D’Agata, Terrance Hayes, Lia Purpura, Ander Monson, Brenda Hillman, D.A. Powell, Jericho Brown, and Donald Ray Pollack.

“Watching Dad’s Porn on the VCR” by Samantha Lê published in The Minnesota Review

In “Watching Dad’s Porn on the VCR,” a poem about girlhood, the speaker of the poem searches for her identity in the images reflected back at her from the television screen “…Mouth of a prophet, tongue of a poet….” Her sense of self is tangled up in what she believes to be the definition of a man—the one for whom the women on the screen carry out their performances.

close-to-electronics-outdated-704555.jpg

Watching Dad’s Porn on the VCR.” The Minnesota Review (Virginia Tech, Duke University Press), Durham, NC, Issue No. 90, Spring 2018, pp. 15. Publishing contemporary poetry and fiction as well as reviews, critical commentary, and interviews of leading intellectual figures, The Minnesota Review curates smart, accessible collections of progressive new work.

“Border Crossing” by Samantha Lê published in The Minnesota Review

In “Border Crossing,” the speaker of the poem laments about being labeled an “illegal.” She remembers a life, before the change in geography, where she was a complete person, “but between the leaving and entering they changed how they look at me—objects once labeled can’t be relabeled, you know.” Somehow in the border crossing, her existence was reduced to one word, a word that carries with it all the weight of past and future discriminations.

photo of woman walk through pathway

Photo by Dương Nhân on Pexels.com

Border Crossing.” The Minnesota Review (Virginia Tech, Duke University Press), Durham, NC, Issue No. 90, Spring 2018, pp. 14. Publishing contemporary poetry and fiction as well as reviews, critical commentary, and interviews of leading intellectual figures, The Minnesota Review curates smart, accessible collections of progressive new work.