Poetry by U Sam Oeur
Translated by Ken McCullough
In 1975 U Sam Oeur and his family along with 2.8 million citizens of Phnom Penh were driven out of the city by the Khmer Rouge. During the next four years, the family survived life in six different concentration camps.
Sacred Vows retells the recent terror of Cambodia and the beauty of its culture. A survivor of the Pol Pot regime, Oeur hopes to inspire young Cambodians to reacquaint themselves with their heritage and make it once again vibrant.
Using myths, stories, prophecies, history, and tradition as ironic counterpoint to Cambodia’s present-day situation, Oeur foretells freedom’s imminent return. Sacred Vows is a mesmerizing call to freedom.
“The poems evoke the lush, rural culture of Cambodia. . . . U Sam Oeur records the transformation of Cambodia into a Dantesque hell.” —The New York Times
“An elegantly printed, deeply personal, magisterial bilingual volume. . . . One is stunned by the multilayered meanings of the poems. This is sheer poetic virtuosity.” —World Literature Today
Finalist, Minnesota Book Award