by Thu Anh
Man affected by Agent Orange finds new life in poetry
"Poetry has opened a beautiful world of imagination to me. Writing has given me hope to live usefully," Huu Thinh, 33, writes in his latest book, Hoai Khuc Tuong Thi (A Song of Memory).
The book met with widespread critical and commercial acclaim after its release by the Viet Nam Writers Association last year.
He wrote more than 1,000 poems, many of them have been published in newspapers and magazines. The poems tell his own 25-year journey to overcome paralysis.
Born to a poor family in Mau Duyet Village in Hai Duong Province's Cam Giang District, Thinh had to drop out of school when he was seven years old. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and was in the final stages of paralysis. Doctors suspected his illness came from his father, a soldier affected by Agent Orange (dioxin) during the American war.
"I was a sick boy who could not walk or run," Thinh wrote, but his optimism and positive attitude have lifted him out of misery.
In 1997, Thinh began to write his first lines of poetry. Two years later, his poems were printed in the monthly digest of the Ha Noi-based University of Law.
In 2010, his first collection of poems, Thuong Lam Mai Sau (Love Forever), was released by the People's Police Publishing House. They were popular with the reading public. Thinh uses a computer, which was a gift from some of his admirers.
"To be free from my situation, I chose writing because it increases my energy," Thinh, a member of the Hai Duong Literature and Arts Association, told Ha Noi's Thoi Nay (Ha Noi Today) newspaper in a recent interview.
Children in Highlands preserve traditional gong music
Thirty ethnic Ba Na children, aged 10 to 14, are learning how to play cong chieng (gongs) to keep their traditional music alive in their native area, the Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) province of Gia Lai.
Dinh Van Muong, 10, who lives in Mo H'Ra Village of Kbang District, has played gongs and learned songs and music of the Ba Na people for more than two years. He is the youngest member of his group.
"An older villager, Dinh H'Munh, taught my friends and I to play gongs after school," said Muong, adding that his parents supported his studies.
The group won two top prizes for playing gongs at the Kbang District Cong Chieng Festival in 2014 and 2015.
Muong and his group play music in their villages, and also travel around the region to offer free performances.
"The music of gongs was handed down from one generation to the next," said patriarch H'Munh, 73, who has devoted his life to teach young villagers playing gongs. "The songs and dances feature myths, legends and stories of the Ba Na people, as well as those of other ethnic peoples throughout Tay Nguyen."
"I want the villagers, particularly young people, to love traditional music because we can't survive without our culture," H'Munh.
H'Munh offers free training to Muong's group, and also works with local cultural authorities to promote cultural programmes, aimed at youth, that preserve traditional music.
"Our musical traditions and artists like H'Munh and his students are seen as precious, invaluable resources of the Bana people," said Nguyen Quang Tue, head of the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism's Cultural Office. — VNS