Judith Dickerman-Nelson is a graduate of UMass Lowell and Emerson College. She has taught writing at the high school and college level and has attended Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Vermont Studio Center. For 15 years, she worked at the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association in Lowell, Massachusetts, where her love for the Cambodian community grew. She has traveled to Cambodia, studied and performed traditional Cambodian dance, and begun to learn the Khmer language. Her poetry and prose has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. Spirits Dancing Into Light is her first book of poems. Her memoir/novel, Believe in Me: A Teen Mom’s Story, was published by Jefferson Park Press in 2012. She lives in southern Vermont with her husband and has two grown sons.
Boroeuth Brian Chen is the translator. He came to the United States in 1985, having survived the “Killing Fields” of Cambodia and refugee camps. After graduating from UMass Amherst, he returned to Cambodia for two years as a volunteer for a non-profit group, the Cambodian American National Development Organization. He returned to America and moved to Lowell, where he has worked for the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association since 1997. He lives in the city with his wife and two children.
“Judith's poems are honest, eloquent, and captivating, with crisp details about the plight of the Cambodian people, then and now. She shares her reflections, her revelation, and her strong connection to the powerful stories and images of suffering, survival, and resilience that arise from the Cambodian diaspora community in Lowell. The poems are translated into Khmer, enabling her to reach out and give back her immersive and sensitive voice to the people who have endeared themselves to her and welcomed her in friendship.”
—Phala Chea, Ed.D., Coordinator of English Language Education Program, Lowell Public Schools
“Spirits Dancing Into Light conveys both the pain and exquisite beauty of contemporary Cambodian life. The power of these deceptively quiet poems lingers, and grows, after one reads them. The translations into Khmer highlight the ongoing conversation between American and Cambodian cultures that Judith Dickerman-Nelson has witnessed and participated in. A terrific poetic debut
—Hilary Holladay, editor and publisher, Jefferson Park Press