lisa samuels


Lisa Samuels is the author of fifteen books of poetry, memoir, and prose—mostly poetry—including Anti M (2013), Tender Girl (2015), and Symphony for Human Transport (2017). She also publishes essays and soundworks as well as collaborating with composers, working with film, and editing books, recently the anthology A TransPacific Poetics (2017, with co-editor Sawako Nakayasu). Living in Aotearoa/New Zealand since 2006 and having also lived in the Middle East, Europe, Malaysia, and the US, where she was born, has made transnationalism fundamental in her ethics and imagination. Associate Professor of English and Drama at The University of Auckland, Lisa lives with her partner and son in a house surrounded by trees.

Lisa Samuels’ Foreign Native is forthcoming from Black Radish Books March 2018.

A foreign native lives attentive to ifs. These poems are bodies walking out news, sound tracers, raw history in civic flesh, theaters of identity and talks in love. Poetry is a foreign native in our plans for language; it makes paradoxes of belonging if. The world of the poem’s imagination is like Peirce’s cave without walls. Our boundary disks fly out at will, expand.

Praise for Foreign Native

lisa samuels FRONT“Foreign Native is infinitely smartly playful, almost wistful in its pirouetting between image and language space. As the title indicates, these poems function like a native language (English to English) “translation / whose choice is axiological.” Samuels’ challenging imaginary narratives in constellating poetic forms are tethered in the imperative questions that drive this collection: what is (language, body, boundary, life, war, nationality)? In a shared universe, where is “my”/“our” commonality and dissonance with the native and the foreign other? Samuels’ quirky syntax turns and repeals a comfort zone of commonalities, puts us nicely on guard. We note each syllable’s potential turning (yearning) towards a knowing or known world in these visionary soundscapes of sense in a space of slippage. This is an exciting collection from one of the 21st century’s most intriguing voices in contemporary poetry.”—Jennifer K. Dick, author of Circuits and Fluorescence

“Ears, eyeholes, tongue, mouth, and particularly brain serve as multi-directional tentacles that feed and transport the language of Foreign Native across geopolitical, financial, semiotic borders of Nation, Power, Culture. Lisa Samuels, poet and critic, generates and conducts atonal words and syntax in transit – in “flowers” – in “lettered body” – in “ ; ” – in “ (             )” – in translation – in solidarity with other Englishes that defy rule of containment, any sensible grammar of obedience.”—Don Mee Choi, author of Hardly War


The city inside you

Nearby space as painting and the walls

quiet in the long car so one is bound

with one’s head and mouth    held in head

the shapely eyes and round eyeballs

curling at you minxing for a set of reasons like

when two persons spread meat kissing

from the love performance    fly the parcel


Near the station a lateral man scores his mind

en masse    a group in plastic planting

very near each other’s holders suture suture

blue light intervals keep my footage

steady like the Steady Hands of Experience

breathe for allegory    push but how can allegory

frame dear life    push out the floor


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