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Young poet's debut book becomes surprise bestseller

Update: March, 02/2013 - 03:10

Man of the hour: Poet Nguyen Phong Viet introduces Di Qua Thuong Nho to young readers in HCM City. — Photo thotre.com

HA NOI(VNS) — Young poet Nguyen Phong Viet never imagined that his debut poetry collection would cause much of a stir following its publication late last December.

A mere 50 days on though, and the book, titled Di Qua Thuong Nho (Through Love and Loss), has already sold a remarkable 10,000 copies.

Such has been the popularity of his poems an additional 3,000 copies of the collection have had to be printed, much to the delight of Viet.

He spent five years working on the anthology, regularly posting his poems about a broken love affair on Facebook to share with friends.

"The inspiration for all my work stems from my real-life emotions and feelings, and the experience of seeing my life go in a completely unexpected direction," Viet confides. "All the hope and bitterness in my head became vivid through the rhymes.

"Many people have told me that they can relate to the poems, and the words bring back memories. I think that for almost everyone love stories are haunting. We have all experienced the emotions of lost love. I believe that the book has been welcomed by readers because it has touched their soul and explored the feelings and emotions that we all share."

Viet is based in HCM City, where he once studied in IT before finding work as an entertainment journalist for a local newspaper. Writing began as a hobby but slowly developed into something more.

"For me, writing is a delight that brings me some relief from stress. I never expected that my poems would become popular, but I'm pleased to see so many people in this life have gone through the same emotions and feelings as I did.

"I hoped to sell around 2,500 copies, but the figure was much much higher. It was such a terrific number, completely beyond the expectations of a young, amateur poet who was printing poems for the first time," Viet says.

In fact, when he first took the manuscript to publishing companies, they were initially reluctant, failing to see the potential for sales. "I did not really welcome the poems when they first arrived on my desk. Then I visited the Facebook page for Di Qua Thuong Nho, and I was blown away by the reaction the work was getting online. There was clearly an audience there and it was those posts that persuaded me to go ahead," admits Nguyen Thanh Ha, deputy head of Phuong Dong Book Co, who published the collection.

"Speaking honestly, even in my wildest dreams I never imagined that such a huge amount of copies would fly out of book stores, particularly considering that the publishing sector is suffering at the moment.

"In my opinion, Viet's poetry speaks to those who are or who have been in love. They are sad but not sorrowful," she commented.

Nguyen Quang Thieu, vice chairman of the Viet Nam Writers' Association, believes that Viet's success can be an inspiration for other young poets.

"I haven't read the collection, but this kind of phenomenon does sometimes happen in the literary world. While these poems may not be the most excellent that money can buy, they have touched the hearts and souls of readers. Viet may represent the emergence of a new kind of poet. Previously only a few noted artists could sell their work in such large volumes as readers seem to be less interested in poetry nowadays. The number of collections sold each year generally stands at around 1,000 or something."

Viet's success story looks set to continue for some time to come. The new print run is launched tomorrow and includes hundreds of special editions designed especially to be given as gifts on International Women's Day next week. Viet is marking the occasion with a number of public appearances where his fans will get the opportunity to meet him and ask questions.

The special editions include the original comments left by Viet's friends and readers on the social networks where his poems made their debut.

Viet is currently working on his second collection Tu Yeu Den Thuong (To Love and Cherish), which is expected to be released early next year. — VNS

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