Small Demon
Dec 072008
 

As I prepare to go to Vietnam in the spring, I have been in contact with friends there, asking them about poetry in contemporary Vietnam. Part of my project involves interviewing Vietnamese poets and that means thinking of the sorts of questions I want to ask. I know a bit about the history of Vietnam and its literature, particularly in the 20th century, but I want to know how that history is affecting the making of poems now, in the first decade of the 21st century. Here is a first pass at some questions, or pre-questions — the sort of questions I need to ask in order to find out what the real questions are:

  1. Who are the most interesting poets now working in Vietnam?
  2. To what extent is contemporary Vietnamese poetry connected to the poetry of the past?
  3. What is the nature of the connection, to the extent that it exists?
  4. Do contemporary poets make use of the extensive folk traditions, for example, of Ca Dao?
  5. What has been the effect of urbanization of Vietnamese poetry over the last twenty years or so?
  6. Have the changes in the Vietnamese economy over the last generation affected Vietnamese poets?
  7. Are there marked generational differences among younger and older Vietnamese poets?
  8. To what extent are Vietnamese poets aware of and interested in poetries in other languages?

Those are the questions I’ll be asking poets I already know as I get ready to go to Vietnam; presumably, these questions will lead to others that are more detailed and take into account the individual situations of the writers I’ll be meeting. If anyone happens by this space who has answers to the questions posed above, please feel free to chime in.

  2 Responses to “Some Questions about Vietnamese Poetry”

  1. there is an interesting novel published dozen yrs ago READERS BLOCK by david markson. just little bits
    of quotes and facts and attenuated narrative with
    comments and character adumbrated by line of sensation with something tumbling in here/dripping out there. and sometimes i feel also that literature has wasted my life. but like that beckett character that great negative of the trajectory mode: you can’t go on, you must go on,
    you will go on. and here’s a piece of mine below:
    HEY, EDDIE, LETíS GO SHOPPING

    RECOGNIZING REGRET NOT DISGRACE
    BUT PRECIOUS JOY OF LIFE EQUALING DEATH SINCE NOTHING REMAINS EVER
    PSYCHOPHANCY A DEATH ASSKISSING BROWNNOSE KARATE CHOP KNEEBONE
    CART CARRY STACK SHELVE A FORGET

    EDWARD MYCUE 7 December 2008

  2. Hi Joe,

    Do you plan to record your interviews digitally? I’ve seen scores of Web sites that incorporate oral histories, and yours sounds right on. Cheers.

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