Cambodian-American Author & Artist
There are many ways to be human, as there are many ways to be Cambodian.
On Earth Beneath Sky
Chath pierSath’s newest collection of poems and sketches are refreshingly bold and energizing.
There is a new body of literature from Khmer (Cambodian) writers that forces readers to look beyond the horrors of the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge and explores the world they experience, wherever they are in the world.
Chath pierSath is one such writer and his new book On Earth Beneath Sky abounds with a vibration suitable for both insiders and outsiders to reimagine Cambodia, America, sexuality, family, and the chronic tensions between the past, present, and future. Above all, his writing is refreshingly fearless and honest. Having three published books behind him, On Earth Beneath Sky is a wide selection of 68 poems and prose sketches that traverse the emotional terrains of the uncertainty of life.
Chath is a conjurer and astute palm reader of Cambodia, the United States, and his own selfhood in his poems and prose sketches. He writes like he paints, swirling images in intensity and sadness; throwing darts at ideas or assumptions; pleading and longing, yet always finding a path towards reconciliation, soothing, and a celebration of life. He moves past expected trauma healing narratives and instead leads his readers to rummage around their own minds to discover misconceptions, views, and what they may have taken for granted.
His voice can make readers wince, rejoice, question, and shed a quiet tear or two. He writes with an intergenerational voice: speaking as a child, a young man, and a maturing gay man living between two worlds. His words spur his readers to look again, to think again, and always to dream larger than our mundane thoughts.
On Earth Beneath Sky firmly places the author in the canons of Cambodian literature. The book and its reviews are available at Loom Press.
ON EARTH BENEATH SKY EXPLORES THE UNCERTAINTY OF LIFE
Chath Piersath lives between and betwixt worlds both inside and out. It is a balancing act of memories, emotions, and cultures – and he is courageous enough to fall off the tightrope. Reality surpasses the imagination, spoke Soth Polin the Khmer writer and intellectual who admitted his difficulty in writing after the personal and national atrocities of the Khmer Rouge genocide. Yet the new literature emerging from Khmer writers is resilient in its explorations of the past and the present. Read more
After is a book of letters in the form of poems that poignantly describes the author’s life and experiences as a child before, during and after the Khmer Rouge. It traces the author’s journey out of Cambodia to the United States and the experiences he had thereafter, through loss of and separation from family members, a kind of unity emerges as each poem addresses the author’s yearning to make sense of one of the greatest tragedies of our world.
Published by Abingdon Square Publishing. Order here.
About Chath pierSath
Photo by Chean Long
From Loom Press:
Chath pierSath, born in Battambang, Cambodia in 1970, survived the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia and grew up in the United States. He is the author of two collections of poetry, After and This Body Mystery, and a children’s book, Sinat and the Instrument of the Heart. Also known internationally for his visual art, he has exhibited in Asia, Europe, and North America. He lives and works on a family farm in the town of Bolton in the Nashoba Valley of central Massachusetts.
In Chath pierSath’s words:
The Khmer Rouge seized power in Cambodia when I was five. In three years, eight months, and twenty days under their rule, the Khmer Rouge turned the country into Year Zero, full of “Killing Fields” and torture prisons. Their goal was to make a new agrarian society, copying the Maoist Cultural Revolution in China. There, as in Cambodia, vast numbers of people were driven out of their cities and villages to work in the rice fields and dig irrigation canals. During this time, I was not allowed to attend school. Along with other children my age, I was put to work in a labor camp and given little or nothing to eat. Read More