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U Sam Oeur grew up in a Cambodian farming family. After studying in the US, he served in the Cambodian government, becoming part of the Cambodian delegation to the UN. When Pol Pot assumed power in 1975, Oeur, along with his wife and son, survived the killing fields while feigning illiteracy in six forced-labor camps. A devout Buddhist, Oeur now lives in Texas. Poet and translator Ken McCullough's recent books include Walking Backwards and Obsidian Point. He has received numerous awards for his poetry including a Pablo Neruda Award, Galway Kinnell Poetry Award, and New Millenium Poetry Award. He translated U Sam Oeur's Sacred Vows and wrote the lyrics for the chamber opera, "The Krasang Tree," based on Oeur's poetry and experiences.