|New edition: The cover of Nha Thuyen's latest poetry book Words Breathe, Creatures of Elsewhere, which was translated into English. — Photo courtesy of Nha Thuyen
HA NOI (VNS) — In Nha Thuyen's understanding, the word, as a living being, is vulnerable.
Her latest book of poetry, Tu Tho, Nhung Nguoi La, expresses her respect for words, so it is fitting that it has been translated into English by Kaitlin Rees.
The book, Words Breathe, Creatures of Elsewhere, can now be purchased worldwide by Vagabond Press Publisher for US$25.
"For poet Nha Thuyen, to write poetry is to listen to the lives of words, to sense their heartbeats, to admire their faces. It is an action that is passionate, overflowing and, at the same time, insecure and restless," said literary critic Hai Ngoc.
Translator Rees said the world of Nha Thuyen's poetry is both grotesque and calming. There is serenity in its obscenity – a world perpetually surviving its perpetual destruction. The poems move through the body, and lovingly and gently tear it away from itself.
"Like an element of nature – like the rain, the stone, the wind – the body is offered back to the universe. A willing sacrifice of a heart," Rees said.
"Vulnerable, but unemo-tionally so, the heart is exposed and its beating echoes. Though it may be clawed apart, its beating will continue.
"Though it may be located outside of time, or not located anywhere at all, Nha Thuyen's poetry is never abstract."
Nha Thuyen, who was born in 1986, has authored several books of poetry, short fiction and books for children.
Her series of essays, Underground Voices (2011-13), sponsored by Arts Network Asia, examines margina-lisation in Vietnamese contemporary poetry and the avant-garde poets of its Post-Renovation period.
With translator Rees, she currently co-edits AJAR, a bilingual literary and art journal-press based in Ha Noi, an online, printed space for poetic exchange. She previously worked as an editor for Viet Nam News.
Rees, who was born in New York, translates Vietnamese poetry and writes her own in English. In addition to the book Words Breathe, Creatures of Elsewhere, she has translated several poems by Nha Thuyen.
Vagabond Press is an independent literary publisher established in 1999 out of a desire to create a space for new writing. For over a decade, it has published a range of established and emerging poets from Australia and more recently Asia-Pacific. — VNS