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Posts Tagged ‘this little art’

Photo: via Songngutaitram,
Vietnamese poet Lê Vĩnh Tài.


Blogger Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm got a couple of us hooked on Vietnamese poetry with her translation of a long and moving epic by the poet pictured above, Lê Vĩnh Tài.

At the AJAR Press, where Lê Vĩnh Tài’s work is published, Nguyễn Trọng Tạo provides background on the poet, “Lê Vĩnh Tài was born in 1966 in Ban Me Thuot, Daklak. He graduated from Tay Nguyen Medical School but later pursued a career in business and making poetry. Le Vinh Tai’s poetry is rich in intellect but also carries much of tenderness and trembling. He is like a ‘balanced renovator.’ ”

A small sample of his more playful poetry comes from Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm’s blog, Songngutaitram:

“I want to write a poem

“because the poem will
“because the poem be

“the poem
“will throw itself upon the pages
“with the vigour of a child learning how to talk

“the poem
“the lyrics you’ve forgotten

“I want to turn us into a poem.”

Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm, herself a poet as well as a translator, reports that she was “born 1971 in Phu Nhuan, Saigon, Vietnam. The pharmacist currently lives and works in Western Sydney, Australia.”

A word on the Vietnamese press called AJAR: “AJAR is dedicated to the discovery of poetry and art in both ordinary and hidden places, providing a space for these works to be exhibited, loved, and challenged. As a bilingual journal and independent small press based in Hanoi, AJAR provides an opening for questions, imaginings, and poetic (im)possibility to be shared across borders, inhabiting language as it moves between worlds and words. In bringing fresh and critical voices of Vietnamese literature and art into English, and welcoming those voices from everywhere into Vietnamese, we focus on quality translations and envision books as artifacts of artistic collaboration. Alongside single author poetry collections, AJAR publishes a bilingual journal of poetry, short fiction, essay, and artwork that revolves around a specific word of choice for each issue. 

“While accepting donations from individuals, AJAR is self-funded and unaffiliated with any outside or inside organization. To be a part of keeping AJAR alive, please buy books or contact us at shop@ajarpress.com.”

To learn more about translation in general, check out This Little Art, by Kate Briggs. Briggs brings up many fascinating points about the decisions that translators must make — points you may never have thought about — and opines that, in fact, the translator is also the author. At least, the author in the second language.

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