Sara Sams is the author of Atom City
, a book of poetry that scrutinizes various legacies of her Manhattan Project hometown: the received history of the atomic bomb, local mythologies orbiting that narrative, and closer stories of family and inheritance. Reviewing the collection, poet Sarah Vap writes: “Sams shows us what violence and invisible interiority and tenderness is at the core of the American hometown. At the core of the American superpower myth. At the core of American exceptionalism, and uranium, and the atom, itself— which is at the core of everything. When hometown is intertwined with the mushroom cloud, when childhood is entangled with the physicist, Sams teaches us that you can ‘feel your fibers loosen, too—then fall,/ after standing years, involuntarily, on end.’ I will never think of the bomb, or America, the same way again, after reading this.”
Sams grew up in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and is currently researching the influence particle physics has had on contemporary poetics. Creatively, she is working on new poems about medical science, childbirth, infant surgery, and frontline workers, as well as a novel about nuclear-reactor-powered ghosts and the opioid crisis in rural Tennessee.
Between 2013 and 2016, Sams received fellowships to teach at the National University of Singapore and for the Ministry of Education in Logroño, Spain. Her experiences teaching abroad solidified her interest in language acquisition and teaching writing in classrooms with second-language students. She has translated poetry from Spanish (David Leo García, Adriana Bañares) and collaborated on a multilingual and interdisciplinary piece of artwork about Jorge Luis Borges and Xul Solar for the Phoenix Art Museum.
A graduate of Davidson College (B.A.) and Arizona State University (M.F.A.), Sams’s poems and translations have appeared in Blackbird, The Volta, Matter Monthly, The Drunken Boat, Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine, and elsewhere. She has served on the editorial staff of Parnassus: Poetry in Review and Hayden’s Ferry Review; she has also supported student editors as a faculty mentor for The Superstition Review. You can find her work online at saraesams.com.