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.

Second Name

1.

When the revolution ended,
history was rewritten.
The victor penned Sài Gòn
her second name—
her boulevards relabeled,
buildings gutted, new
monuments erected,
and a yellow star dipped
in blood unfurled
above her rooftops—
but those who loved her,
will always love
her as Sài Gòn. To those
who conquered her,
she became the Other.

 

2.

When history was rewritten,
I had just learned to walk.
In Sa Đéc, they called me
bourgeois enemy. Nine years of silent
disobedience. Waiting.
I learned the cost of freedom.
At Phanat Nikhom they tagged
me refugee. In blind, immigration
lines across a foreign continent,
they stamped my chest alien.
Seven years with a new tongue
before America certified
me her citizen. I carried
on my person the baggage
of a second name
for my second self, finding
small remembrances in the kitchens
of old San José: salty clay pot
catfish, bitter melon soup,
and sweet jasmine rice.
A splash of nước mắm added
homesickness to every bite.

 

3.

When I returned to Sài Gòn,
they classified me Việt Kiều
that emotional limbo
between native and foreigner.
Names and labels inked
my passport pages. Not one of us,
they claimed. Aren’t I
Lê Mỹ Huyền Trân—
con rồng cháu tiên?
Four words that stretch
like a river back
to the beginning. Its source,
ancient cave trickles.
Its bed, stinky black mud
where lotus roots burrow.
Its mouth, the roar of typhoons.
My river dammed, rerouted
each time I was rewritten,
but I’m no Other.

~ by Samantha Lê

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First published in Spring Mother Tongue

Copyright © 2017 by ​Samantha Lê
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form, without the prior written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, please use the contact form.

Samantha Lê ~ Featured Poet in the Aurorean, Spring/Summer 2017 issue

I’m honored to be a Featured Poet of the Aurorean Spring/Summer 2017 issue, and that my poems “La Comédie,” “Tongue Tied,” and “Your Absence” were selected for publication.

[This issue of the Aurorean is now available for purchase.]

About “La Comédie”

A villanelle.  The refrains in this French form create a sing-song quality that contrasts with the bleakness of the poem’s subject matter: the search for relief from loneliness.  I made the allusion to Honoré de Balzac’s La Comédie humaine to speak to the superficiality of  social ambitions in a world where other more urgent challenges exist.  [page 60]

About “Tongue Tied”

The speaker of the poem laments about being devoured by her lover, yet she accepts it and goes along with it, continuing to insist on “nothing” until she manages to forget what she tries to deny.  [page 61]

About “Your Absence”

A woman waits for her man to return from war.  His absence is an oppressive presence in her life.  Haunted by memories of him, she spends nights reassuring herself that he’s still alive by combing through fatality lists for his name.  There’s a silent sacrifice and courage in the act waiting that’s seldom addressed.  When it comes to understanding the intangible subject of war, a writer must find a way to make the political personal.  Only one story can be heard at a time in order for the collective sounds of all the hearts breaking to have an impact.  [page 62]

About the Aurorean

One of New England’s premier poetry journals, The Aurorean, an Encircle Publications, is a biannual poetry journal.  Focusing on poetry of New England and poetry of the seasons, The Aurorean has been published continually since 1995, featuring the work of over 1,300 poets worldwide.  Digital issues are $3 each.  Printed issues are $11 each.  [visit website]

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Related links

“To Myself at Seven” by Samantha Lê published in Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Issue 46

I’m honored that my poem “To Myself at Seven” was selected for publication in the Spring 2017 issue of Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review.  [Available for purchase.]

About “To Myself at Seven”

I wanted to write a poem about being a girl, about how culture define a girl’s place in the world through gender-biased beliefs and limitations—limitations that that are passed on from mothers to daughters to sisters.  In The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir wrote, “To be feminine is to show oneself as weak, futile, passive, and docile.  The girl is supposed not only to primp and dress herself up but also to repress her spontaneity and substitute for it the grace and charm she has been taught by her elder sisters.  Any self-assertion will take away from her femininity and her seductiveness.”

I grew up in post-war Vietnam, which makes the details of my childhood different from others, but the journey is the same.  I was discouraged and punished for climbing trees, as if in reaching high places, I’d get too accustomed to the view from the top. “…her wings are cut and then she is blamed for not knowing how to fly.” (Beauvoir)  This is a universal experience of girlhood.

About Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review

Partially funded by the Texas Commission on the Arts and the City of Austin Cultural Contracts, Borderlands was founded by graduated students at the University of Texas at Austin.  Since its debut in 1992, Borderlands continues to receive wide critical acclaim and garners a national readership.  Issues are $10.00 each.  [visit website]