Poet Nguyễn Phong Việt. Photo thethaovanhoa.vn
Nguyễn Phong Việt is a prolific poet. Over the last decade, he has released a poetry collection at the end of each year.
Thể Thao Văn Hóa (Culture & Sports) newspaper reporter Hiền Hòa spoke with Việt about the literature scene and his career
Could you tell us about your new poetry collection?
This is the ninth collection I have written for my mature readers. I will publish the 10th at Christmas this year. It will be reasonable to stop a long journey. Releasing 10 collections at the same time for 10 years is an interesting journey for me.
I will stop not because the number of copies sold has reduced but I think that it is time to stop writing poems. Both my readers and I need to have a break. It is important for me.
However, I will not stop writing poems for mature readers. I just want to take a rest for two or three years for thinking. I want to have new stories to tell.
I believe that writing poetry is my fate in life. So no matter what I won't give up. I continue my work with essays with currently releasing a book of essays. It is a shift in my writing.
When you return to writing poems for mature readers can you imagine what you will write?
I don't know at all and have no idea. But I believe that my readers who have read my collections for the past 10 years are always there. We are like old friends meeting after a long time. It will be more emotional and joyous.
Do you want a best-selling poetry book or what do you seek in poetry?
Frankly, I don't want to look for a best-selling title and it does not pressure me. The only thing that can make me feel pressure is [to ensure] that each of my poetry collections does not disappoint the readers.
I seek exposition through poetry. It is a therapy that helps me to calm down and move on in my life. Indeed, there are days when I am so tired of thinking that only writing makes me feel comfortable.
I've always thought poetry readers are introverted people. This inner part for me is necessary because that sensitivity helps me understand more about life and make my living journey more profound.
I do not think poetry has any big impact but simply it is a diary page where the reader can find a little empathy and understanding.
They listen to the voice of the soul and know that they are not alone. As a writer, it is the same for me.
What are you writing at present?
I published my first poetry collection for children in 2018. It entitled Xin Chào Những Buổi Sáng (Good Morning, Mornings) is a collection of 30 poems written in Vietnamese and English narrating the stories of ordinary life and family love as well as containing moral lessons for children.
This year I will release the second children's poetry collection. I hope writing poems for children will be a new experiment for me.
Can you earn living from poetry writing?
It must be said that I cannot live by writing books. Simply, it is a hobby, a joy and sometimes it is a small mission telling daily stories and spreading them to readers.
Even if I want to earn a living by writing it would be impossible because the income from writing in Việt Nam is extremely small.
Do you think that one day, artificial intelligence (AI) will be able to compose a poem?
I believe that is the inevitable trend, AI will do it. But poetry is the personal experience of the writer. This difference and essence, AI cannot do it.
I still believe that AI cannot have the same depth as the soul of a poet. In this case, it is "Clothes does not make a man". VNS