“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.

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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.

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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.

“Last Bar in Okinawa” and “Home from College” by Samantha Lê published in Two Thirds North, 2017 issue

I’m happy to announce that my poems “Last Bar in Okinawa” and “Home from College” have been selected for publication in the 2017 issue of Two Thirds North.   To read the online version, please click here.

“Last Bar in Okinawa” and “Home from College” is also be included in the 2017 print issue of Two Thirds North,  available for purchase.

About “Last Bar in Okinawa

A man, with pockets stuffed with stones to insure that he’ll sink when he steps into the water, stops at bar for his last drink while outside the ocean waits for him.  This poem was inspired by a photo a friend had taken of a bar in Okinawa.  I was reading about suicides in Japan at the time, and the idea for the poem came together quite spontaneously… and then months of edits followed.

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“Bar in Okinawa” photo by William Karstens

I originally structured this as a long narrative poem.  I built an entire life for the man to explain how he’d come to be in this bar; but through the revision process, I decided to discard the narrative and keep only the emotions.  The months of trying to whittle this poem down to the essential truth led me to conclude that it no longer mattered to the man how he had arrived at this moment in his life, it only mattered that he was there and how he felt.  [read poem, page 40]

About “Home from College

This poem is about twin brothers, home from college, finding their old bedroom transformed into a gift-wrapping room.  Perhaps it’s the newness of a familiar place, perhaps it’s because they’ve been apart and have missed the closeness they once shared, but events unfold with the older brother taking his twin’s virginity.  The younger twin feels that he’s “made” into a man by this act and surrenders to the pleasure.  [read poem, page 65]

About Two Thirds North

Two Thirds North is a high-quality, annual print magazine produced by the Master Class in Creative Writing and Editing at the Department of English, Stockholm University.  Issues are $10 each.  [visit website]

“Reeducation” by Samantha Lê published in Pamplemousse Magazine, Spring 2017 issue

I’m honored that my poem “Reeducation” has been selected for publication in the spring/summer 2017 issue of Pamplemousse.   To read the online version, please click here.

“Reeducation” will also be included in the spring/summer 2017 print issue of Pamplemousse, which will be available May 2017.

About “Reeducation

The speaker in the poem is a war veteran trying to reenter civilian life.  Having lost the language of the civilized world, he’s “wordless” and sees everyday objects through a distortion caused by prolonged exposure to violence.  He drifts from place to place, carrying the images and smells of war with him—violence has a way of burrowing in and laying eggs.  My father fought in the Vietnam War and spent a few years in a reeducation camp.  I never heard his stories, but his silence is my inspiration for this poem.  I hope you’ll enjoy it, and that it’ll spark a dialog on the subject of returning vets and their families.  [read poem]

About Pamplemousse 

Pamplemousse, published biannually, was founded in the fall of 2001 by the BFA program at Johnson State College.  The magazine publishes high quality, forward thinking, innovative, and well-crafted writing in a variety of genres and styles.  Issues are $7 each.  [visit website]