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Writer abroad finds peace in poetry

Update: January, 17/2018 - 09:00
New Zealand-based student Tăng Huyền Thư
Viet Nam News

New Zealand-based student Tăng Huyền Thư released her first book in HCM City early this month. The book, entitled How Much Is Too Much for Remembering, includes the poem of the same name that won 2nd prize at the New Zealand National Schools Poetry Award in 2016.

Born in the northern province of Thái Bình, Thư went to New Zealand at the age of 13. During her teenage years she had to overcome cultural and linguistic barriers. The book sold out its initial run of 1,000 copies in about a week. Publisher Saigon Books will print 1,500 more.

Nguyễn Thúy Bình interviews Thư about the first book and her passion for poetry.

You just release your very first book, How Much Is Too Much for Remembering, including your poem of the same name that won 2nd prize at New Zealand National Schools Poetry Award in 2016. Could you talk more about the book?

This book was written in the last two years while I was in New Zealand studying my last year of high school and first year at university. More than 60 poems from this book were selected from my body of work of approximately 200 poems.

The book was divided into five different parts: Part 1– Starting from the Pain Itself, Part 2 – If You Come back to Hà Nội, Part 3 – Waiting for the Gentleness in Oceania, Part 4 – Inside Baby’s Eyes, Mother and Hometown and the Last, and Part 5 – Country. Throughout the whole book, I want to convey a message of love between human beings, their families and also the country.

I write to release my inner emotion which is very hard to say. When I began to write poems I didn’t think about printing a book. After reading the draft I arranged the poems by theme. 

The book launch was held successfully in HCM City by Saigon Books. Were you surprised?

It was such an amazing day which surprised me a lot because the event attracted many people from different ages and different backgrounds. I am very happy that most of the people who turned up on the day showed their interest in poetry and the book itself. Hopefully, all the events at Saigon Book Street will be successful like that.

Was it difficult for you to release the book in Việt Nam while you are studying in New Zealand? How did you do it?

As you know, distance is sometimes troubling us but thanks to the internet we can communicate with people around the world very well. I could say it was such a huge step for me to complete the book and bring it to readers.

Luckily, after I finished the draft, a friend of mine, a famous female writer Hòa Bình, helped me to send the draft to an editor. Thankfully, the draft got accepted for publication after six months. Over that time, I communicated with the company mostly via email and other social media.

What do you think about the place of poetry in young people’s lives in the era of digital technology?

I myself think the role of poetry is different for different people. Some young people love to read and write poems these days, even though they can spend time using all the new technologies. Some don’t. It is understandable that each of us has different interests in things. But in this busy world, poetry is such a gift that gives our soul some peaceful moments and keep us thinking about what is happening around us even more.

How did you become a contributor for several newspapers and magazines in Việt Nam while you are studying abroad?

I first posted most of my writing on social media. Then, lots of editors and writers from newspapers and magazines in Việt Nam saw them and asked to use for their daily post. After that, I contacted them and sent poems to their newspapers more often. This has worked really well since I started and I like to do this.

Writing has always been my passion. I love to write for newspapers and magazines so I did that in the last few years. Before enrolling in Urban Planning, I thought I would become a journalist but then I changed my mind for some personal reasons. Besides writing, I also enjoy drawing, creation and also taking care of the environment and managing things, which are all included in Urban Planning.

Even though most people think there is no relation between Urban Planning and writing poems, I think they are related somehow. Perhaps having an interest in poems helps to balance my normal routine and get me out of all busy thinking after a tiring day of looking at designs and remembering all the laws in planning.

Like other people, I think that I write about everything that is needful and closed to me. I write about my country and difficulties which I have overcome. I want to have a peaceful life after things I have experienced. That is my true emotion which inspires me to write. Absolutely I don’t set out to try to write poems.

 When do you want to write most? When you are sad or happy?

I can’t actually write anything when I am in a good mood. So most of my poems are written when I am alone or thinking deeply about things around me. — VNS

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