Viet Nam News
Amateur poet Nguyễn Huy Hoàng’s first collection of poems titled Quà Cho Con (Gift for Children) has received much appreciation from parents and other adults in Hà Nội.
Hà Nguyễn talks with him about his collection and his inspiration to write poetry.
Inner Sanctum: How long did you nurture the poems and why did you want to write them?
I had been nurturing a theme for my poems for about ten years. I was trying to write them in an effort to transform my sentiment, dreams, lessons and experiences that I had accumulated from my daily life, to young people, particularly children and teenagers.
I always wish that our young generation enjoy comprehensive development and happiness from our traditional Vietnamese poems, and encouragement from their friends and their families.
Inner Sanctum: From where did you draw the inspiration to write these poems?
My inspiration came from social issues that concern the entire society evenmore such as children, students and young people who are faced with severe lack of soft skills. My first poem came from one such situation when I was a student living in my Law University’s dormitory. One day I devised a test of greeting 100 students passing me at the university gate. Only four responded, two smiled and the rest said nothing, and did not even glance at me.
Sometimes inspiration came from reading something interesting or some information from my Facebook page. For example, one day I read an article in which a son told his mother, who is from a remote area and came to the city to see him, that he hated his native village because it was poor and dusty.
The article encouraged me to compose the poem Yêu Làng Quê (Love Native Village).
Another example is when I attended the Trần Temple in the northern province of Nam Định, I witnessed a severely crowded place where people jostled and pushed each other to enter the temple.
I came back home and wrote the poem Lịch Sự Nơi Tôn Nghiêm (Be Polite at Solemn Place).
Inner Sanctum: Were you afraid that someone would publish poems with topics similar to yours while you were composing?
No, I was not afraid, because I was convinced that my poems came from my own sentiments and love of our country and people. They are simple and natural. I invested my passion and details into composing them as compared to other poets. First I intended to name my collection 100 Kỹ Năng Sống (100 Soft Skills) but later I decided to name it Quà Cho Con.
Inner Sanctum: Which of the poems are your most personal and why?
In fact almost all my 100 poems are my personal ones, but the poems I like most are about people who respect and love their native village, are hardworking, painstaking, and are grateful to somebody, apart from being honest and self-reliant.
It is because they helped me to remember my family, my native village and the difficult days, that led me to return to my childhood in the countryside where life was very peaceful in a very good neighbourhood.
Inner Sanctum: How did you, your parents and your wife feel on hearing that a poet such as you has signed a contract with the Tân Việt Books to sell the copyright of your poems for five years at a considerable amount of VNĐ550 million (US$25,000)?
My parents and relatives were all very happy, particularly my wife, because we were (four members) still living in a small flat at an old tenement in the College of Stage and Cinema. So, we could ‘borrow’ this amount in addition to borrowing money from a bank to buy a house first because before we had decided to spend the money for our children as gift for them to study abroad.
Inner Sanctum: Can you introduce yourself?
My parents were very poor and I was quite small as compared to my age. I went to school in the morning and tended buffaloes in the afternoon, and at the age 15 I worked in the field as a real farmer.
I had to walk as far as 10km to reach high school and had to study under the feeble light of a kerosene lamp. In 2001, when I completed my university education my village still had no access to electricity.
Apart from my studies, I set up a student association at my Phú Thọ Province to encourage young people to pursue their studies and to help our native village escape from hunger and poverty.
I studied at Law University because I thought I should understand law to protect myself, my family and my community. After graduating from the university I enrolled at the National Academy of Administration. I earned my living as a freelance consultant in law until 2009 when I passed an examination to be recruited as a secretary for two deputy ministers who were in charge of literature and the arts at the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
I am thankful for having worked in the field and have always wondered how to work on improving ethics, a healthy lifestyle and soft skills for the young generation. Since then, the ideas on writing Quà Cho Con have flashed through my mind.
Inner Sanctum: What are your prominent achievements and prizes?
Last year, I received a certificate of merit from the prime minister for my outstanding work. At the age of 10, I received a special prize at the competition on how to understand cinematography. I won the third prize on learning about relationships between Việt Nam and the Republic of Korea, and many others.
Inner Sanctum: What are your future plans?
I will be making a cartoon based on my Quà Cho Con poem collection and then continue to compose poems and a book that I have nurtured from a long time. VNS