“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.

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“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.

“The Way to Cái Răng Floating Market” by Samantha Lê published by Bayou Magazine

Cai_Rang

The child rides on the backseat of the family’s bicycle and takes stock of Vietnam’s ravaged countryside after the revolution—its people and animals, its landscape and violent history.  “The Way to Cái Răng Floating Market” captures the complicated adult world through the eyes of a child—the humming poverty and hunger, the trembling of the land.  Geography is destiny, and this fact becomes the child’s identity.  She sees her future, and it is the product of a past that she did not help to create.

[…]
A stuck sensation—the way fish
bones dig at the throat—
the old woman sings water-buffalo-
herding songs and breaks
the topsoil with a hoe: a rusty tin turns
upside down, a clump
of clay drops to the ground. […]

“The Way to Cái Răng Floating Market” is published in Issue No. 68 of Bayou Magazine, Winter 2018, pp. 86-87. Founded in 2002, Bayou Magazine is a biannual, national literary magazine published by The University of New Orleans.  Writing that first appeared in this journal has been short-listed for the Pushcart Prize and named in the notable essays list in Best American Essays.

 

On the Subject of Lust

An excerpt from the Author Q & A session for The Suburban Review #8 on the subject of lust and the poem “Fourteen” by Samantha Lê.

By: Dinu Kumarasinghe, associate editor. 

lust

On the subject of lust and the poem “Fourteen” by Samantha Lê.

DK: How is lust dangerous? How does youth affect that danger?

SL: Whether it’s a lust for life, art, food, sex, or adventure, lust is one of the main ingredients of passion, which enhances its attractiveness. It makes the palms sweat and causes the heart to beat faster. It encourages risk-taking. I think in every life, there should be a little room carved out for lust. But, lust can become dangerous, especially when it’s given a place at the altar in one’s life, where it manipulates ethics and reason and negatively influences the decision-making process. When this happens, cravings become obsessions, acting as the erosive agent that destroys a person’s connection to the world. As lust spins out of control, the identity is absorbed, and the moral center is set askew. The by-product that this type of lust inevitably spits out is always chaos. No one can live a balanced or meaningful life that’s 100% motivated by lust.

Often, youth calls lust by the wrong name, confusing lust for love, intimacy, sexual awakening or even empowerment. But, without the necessary life experience to act as a guide and an unwavering understanding of the relationship been cause and effect, actions and consequences, it’s easy to lose oneself to such an intoxication. As the result, youth is often exposed to the dangerous nature of lust because youth innocently and willingly puts a mask on such danger and calls it friend. [Read more.]

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From:  “Q&A with Samantha Lê,” The Suburban Review, No. 8, Melbourne, Australia.  Dinu Kumarasinghe, asso. ed., 5 November, 2017.

“To Myself at Eight” and “The Disappearance” by Samantha Lê published in Hypertrophic Literary, Summer 2017 Issue

I’m happy to announce that my poems “To Myself at Eight” and “The Disappearance” are featured in the beautiful Summer 2017 issue of Hypertrophic Literary. [Available online and in print].

About “To Myself at Eight”

In the passing along of female traditions, the cost of such inheritance is often freedom.  Mothers packaged their seasoned fears and self-imposed limitations into neat boxes, which they gift to their daughters in the form of expectations and wisdom.  Be pretty, they say.  Be quiet and demure.  Don’t be smarter than men.  An unmarried woman is incomplete, etc.  How do girls, born free but aren’t raised free, emancipate themselves from this inherited mental slavery when the well-meaning people in the lives, mothers, aunts, grandmothers—the ones responsible for their development into womanhood—insist upon oppression disguised as traditions?  [page 8]

About “The Disappearance”

Written in three parts, this poem occupies the space created by the aftermath of an event.  The reader enters the poem after a family unit has been broken apart, and as the dust settles the damage reveals itself.  In part 1, the reader is introduced to the husband and father.  Left and indignant, he expresses his anger outwardly, losing control on everyday objects.  In part 3, the left child expresses her anger inwardly, learning secretive ways to cope.  And sandwiched between them in part 2 are their shared memories of the woman who’s disappeared from their lives—wife, mother, buffer—leaving behind people who are just as broken as she was.  [page 30]

About Hypertrophic Literary

Hypertrophic Press is an independent press that publishes both books and a quarterly literary magazine.  Digital issues are $3 each.  Printed issues are $10 each.  [visit website]

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“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]