[Translator Bruce Weigl and author Nguyen Phan Que Mai, of The Secret of Hoa Sen] Douglas Valentine of political newsletter Counterpunch recently sat down with BOA translator Bruce Weigl to discuss war writing and his forthcoming translation The Secret of Hoa Sen (BOA, Fall 2014). Weigl, "one of many young Americans who heard the banshee wail of close combat in Vietnam," is considered a war writer. According to Valentine, he "assembles the archetypes of war and presents them with ruthless force that shatters our assumptions about ourselves, and what we represent, and he does it in such an effortless way, it's as if we were speaking to ourselves." Weigl's poetry is noted for its "eloquence and flawless delivery," as well as the "seriousness and depth of its subject matter." The Secret of Hoa Sen is a Vietnamese collection by poet Nguyen Phan Que Mai, translated into English by Weigl; it will be released by BOA in Fall 2014. Discussing his connection to Vietnamese poetry, Weigl says, "Most significantly what I've learned from Vietnamese poetry is the way in which it is possible to rise above the worst human tragedies that you can imagine through the power of love, of family, and of country. During the long years of war in Vietnam, those who fought often found solace in poetry. When they missed their home villages, they would write poetry about this longing, even in the midst of battle ... Poetry in Vietnam is much more generally and deeply embedded in the culture than it is in America; the Vietnamese value poetry as an important way to understand the world and our own humanness." "Hoa Sen" is Vietnamese for Lotus flower. Here's a sneak peek at Nguyen Phan Que Mai's translated poetry: BABYLIFT* Lifted high, thrown into another world, another country, another embrace, this was the fate of the bewildered children, their skin still fuming from the fire of their evacuation. They come home, their hair not blond, their skin not white, their tongues without Vietnamese, but no diet of milk and butter can answer the thirty-five year old question Who am I? No adopted arms can replace the parents’ embrace. No DNA test can link them to their origin, and black hair cannot think in Vietnamese. Babylift. Over twelve thousand days of tears. Over thirty-five years of pain, and still the questions have their eyes wide open. Keep an eye out for The Secret of Hoa Sen, coming to the BOA Bookstore in Fall 2014. Click here to read the full Counterpunch interview.
- Categories: Uncategorized