|Singaporean writer Suchen Christine Lim. — File Photo
HA NOI (VNS) — Singaporean writer Suchen Christine Lim said she's curious about Vietnamese literature and wants to exchange more with Vietnamese writers.
Lim spoke at a seminar held yesterday at which distinguished writers from Viet Nam, Australia and Singapore discussed the vitality of contemporary writing around the world.
She loves Viet Nam – the country, the people and its history. Late President Ho Chi Minh is such a hero of hers that she named her son after him. Her trip to Viet Nam was therefore special beyond just the opportunity to exchange with writers from around the world through the WrICE (Writers Immersion and Cultural Exchange) programme.
WrICE, organised by RMIT University, Australian Copyright Agency and the National Library of Viet Nam, is a cultural exchange and cultural immersion programme devoted to fostering connections between Australian and Asian writers.
Ten authors from 10 countries spend one week in the central city of Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and one week in Ha Noi. The programme allows writers at different stages of their careers to connect and share ideas across cultures and generations.
"WrICE acknowledges something important about writers, that their task of writing essentially isolates them," said Gael McDonald, president of RMIT University, adding "WrICE's goal of helping to develop an Asia-Pacific writing community and to raise the professional profile of writers across this region."
"To create opportunities for writers involved here to step outside their writing studios and regular environments, and to share ideas with writers from different cultures and across generations is a fine thing," she said.
Lim, a recipient of the prestigious Fulbright fellowship, was an International Writing Fellow and writer in residence at the University of Iowa, as well as a Visiting Fellow in Creative Writing at the Technological University of Singapore.
She said the WrICE programme in Viet Nam offered her a chance to tap into the vast literary vein of Southeast Asia.
"It's an opportunity for Asian and Australian writers to meet and discuss our craft and work, and perhaps to collaborate," she said.
Lim is grateful for the deeper look into Vietnamese literature that the poet Nguyen Bao Chan has given her. Lim said Chan represents a generation of contemporary Vietnamese writers who are strong, moving and creative.
Chan said the international authors in the workshop taught her a lot about writing process and idea building.
"I realise that the weakest point of Vietnamese writers is language," said Chan, "without the language barrier, they would be able to open many doors and connect with other parts of the literary world."
"It's great when Vietnamese writers can introduce their work to international friends in English and translate it themselves," she said, explaining that many, "translations loose some of the value of the original work."
Lim, Chan and acclaimed author Cate Kennedy from Australia exchanged with readers at the National Library of Viet Nam yesterday and read from their critically acclaimed works.
Earlier in the week they also joined local authors at a similar workshop held at Manzi Art Space in Ha Noi.
In August, the WrICE authors will meet again in Melbourne to participate in workshops and other writers events. — VNS