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"Introduction To Vietnamese New Formalism Poetry A Review after 10 Years" essay by Khế Iêm, Vietnam

27 Settembre 2020, 14:25pm

Pubblicato da immagine.poesia.over-blog.it

                                                            Introduction To

Vietnamese New Formalism Poetry

A Review after 10 Years



To poets Đỗ Quyên, Inrasara and Lê Vũ

New Formalism is an American poetry movement begun in the early 1980s and developed through the 1990s, lead by a number of young poets composing in the traditional style. But why New Formalism and not some other movement? Traditional Western poetry, began with Homer (his two works The Iliad and The Od­yssey, each written in 16-syllable verses), and then followed with free-verse with the American poet Walt Whitman (towards the end of the 19th century). Free-verses, throughout the 20th century, developed strongly in United States after the Second World War with many advant garde movements, withered at the end of the century, and created reactions and revivals of the meter in poetry.

English is a strong-stress and poly-syllabic language with empha­sis on consonant sounds. Poetic form depends upon the number of syllabic sounds in a verse, for example, a common form has 10 sounds, iambic pentameter (unstress, stress repeated 5 times), from verse to verse with end-rhymes. If there are no end-rhymes, then it is called blank verses. Vietnamese poetry in the 5-word, 7-word, 8-word or alternating 6-word and 8-word form breaks up the verses according to the word count. Vietnamese is a mono-syl­labic language; therefore, its poetic form, besides having rhymes at the end of a verse, may be organized according to the inflections of level / oblique tones.

Poetry comes before poetic rules. From antiquity, poetry has been developed alongside musical instruments such as lutes and flutes, and people sang it as a song. Later on, even when music and words were differentiated, the relationship between words and music remained as rhythm and sounds, between the practical and the aesthetics, long-standing traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation, becoming poetic rules. That is why poetic rules, simplified as rhyme schemes, as end-rhymes, are in­nate in the heart of the reader and the poet. Once these principles are codified, in much the same way as musical notations, the skill of the poet is to marry words and ideas such that, when the poem is read, there is a spiritual dimension reverberating through, rising to the level of goodness. Free-verse came into being with the de­sire to escape from the traditional rhythm and rhymes; the goal of making poetry new replaced the standard of making it good. So, to make rhymed verses new or to reform them is to corrupt poetry, and we can only replace the standard of goodness with a differ­ent standard. Like modern art, the traditional notion of beauty is replaced by the drive to create, to make anew.

Poetry in any age goes through the cycle of flowering and de­cline. Rhymed poetry after a long period of time goes into re­treat because social conditions change; poetry can no longer ex­press human emotions, and free-verse poetry is given a chance to be born. Modern Western-style free-verse poetry and painting is compatible with the spirit of conquest (towards the end of the 19th century) and confrontation (during the cold war period) and the development of science and technology, resulting in two world wars. The period of confrontation created extremism and anoma­lies in American post-war poetic activities, which are biased to­ward free-verse, pushing aside meter and rhyme poetry, viewing them as an obsolete form of poetry. Meanwhile, in other countries such as England, free verse and meter / rhyme verse developed side by side.

The rise of New Formalism movement helped American poetic activities regain their balance. But, after a period of revival in rhymed verses, some American poets thought that it was not nec­essary to adhere to any terms but that it was sufficient for poetry to be good. So, after all, is “New Formalism” just a revival of past traditions? “New” here means “retro”. The key principles of rules, like enjambments, rhyme-schemes, even everyday and common language already exist from the Romantic period early in the 19th century, with William Wordsworth’s blank verses. Free-verse poetry, the Imagists at the start of the 20th century, with poets like T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound, also promotes the use of common language and precise words in poetry. Language usages vary over periods of time. When everyday language is infused into poetry, poetry is given new life, captivating the reader and res­urrecting rhymed verses. These successes cannot be overlooked; they are a major contribution. Another reason is that readers in the information age are no longer impressed with the new aspects of poetry, so the poet must return to the standard of good poetry, with real talents, in order to preserve poetry.

What about Vietnamese New Formalism Poetry? In Spring 2000, in the special edition of the Vietnamese Journal of Poetry entitled “Encounter with a New Millennium”, Vietnamese poets utilized the term “New Formalism” to introduce to Vietnamese poetry the Blank Verse form of English poetry. To accept a new form of po­etry is to accept the methods of composition, applying new prin­ciples: enjambments, repetition, prose narration, and the use of common language.

1/ In English poetic forms, the enjambment technique is very com­mon as compared to line-break in free-verse poetry. When adapted to Vietnamese poetry, this technique is defined as follows:

“When the enjambment technique is used, it changes the practice of stopping at the end of a verse, the reader is prompted to search for the missing part (of the sentence), the speed of reading is in­creased and one must read visually. This brings up the concept of time and space in poetry. What is lost, perhaps, is a part of life, of the past or future, and, as such, the present is nothing but empti­ness. Such emptiness is not empty because of the ever-changing, ever moving character of what is known and what is unknown, intertwining with each other. Poetry thus arises out of the am­biguities and complexities of syntax, creating musical rhythm. What is clear, a poem and the perception of rhythm does not lie in language (words), but in the content of the language. The content of the language is the movement of emotions through grammar and syntax.” 1

2/ Common (everyday) language: An example often cited:

“The poet Timothy Steele, while having lunch at a popular eatery, coincidentally overheard a lover’s quarrel, after which the woman stood up and, before leaving, said loudly:

x / x / x / x / x /

You haven’t kissed me since we got engaged.

The saying complies with iambic meter (unstress, stress) and re­peated 5 times (penta –), thus forming iambic pentameter. Steele recognized that form is drawn from common language, and New Formalism converts common language into poetic forms.” 2

English formalism poetry has two categories, rhymed and un­rhymed poetry (blank verses). This is true in part because English is a polysyllabic language, rich with rhymes, which makes it easy to create enjambments and transform common language into po­etry, whether there are rhymes at the end of the verses or not. In contrast, Vietnamese is a monosyllabic language, wherein it is dif­ficult to convert common language into poetry because it would not conform to metered (rhyme) schemes. Once the metered (rhyme) schemes are eliminated and replaced with enjambment techniques to create free associations, then Vietnamese poetry be­comes no different from English blank verses. Common language flows into poetry, erasing the musical qualities of metered poetry, and helps the poet to discover new rhythms and musical quali­ties. Folk poetry in the six-eight form utilizes simple language but retains the characteristics of lullabies and songs; plain language or common language is not spoken like lullabies or songs. New Formalism is a type of poetry that is read.

3/ In poetic rules, regardless of the form, alliteration techniques are employed to create musical qualities and rhythm for the poem. The repetitions of the level / oblique sounds is found in Tang po­etry forms, and the equivalent unstress, stress sounds, repeated five times in one poetic verse, is found in English. In these ways, traditional poetry creates repeating syllables. When English free verse wished to escape from these rules and traditional sounds, they replaced the repetitive syllables by repeating words and re­peating phrases. Similarly, in order to escape from the sounds of rhymed verses, Vietnamese Blank Verse adopted the same tech­nique used in English free verse, that is, repeating words and phrases in a poem.

4/ Narrative / Story-telling quality is a common characteristic throughout all poetic traditions that tell a story. In Vietnamese Blank Verse poetry, this story-telling quality also means that thoughts and concepts are continuous and not disconnected, as in free-verse poetry.

At this point, Vietnamese Blank Verse poetry has achieved all four critical qualities of English Blank Verse to become a separate po­etry form. With respects to American poetry, the label of “New Formalism” was advanced by its enemies, intended as a jab. Lateron, the two founding poets of this movement, Frederick Feirstein and Frederick Turner, combined it with Narrative Poetry to create a new movement, Expansive Poetry. Regardless, American New Formalism had accomplished its goals of reviving rhymed (me­tered) poetry, and erased the barriers between poets. Because of the dominance of free-verse poetry throughout the 20th century, there were serious rifts, once thought to be irreconcilable, between the schools represented, on the one side, by Robert Frost, who described free verse as “playing tennis without nets”, and on the other side by Ezra Pound, who championed free-verse, trailblaz­ing “make it new”. Only after the arrival of New Formalism did American poetry finally overcome the fever of the Avant Gard poetic movements which blossomed after the 1950s. Poetry har­monized between free-verse and metered forms.

The technical term (label) of “New Formalism” was very accurate with regard to Vietnamese poetry. Vietnamese poetry also revert­ed, but only took old poetic forms and adapted to new qualities in order to be transformed into a new poetic form. In addition, Vietnamese New Formalism was also an assimilation of the tradi­tional and modern, erasing all distinguishing borders between the English and Vietnamese language, thereby creating an exchange of cultures. (It is worth noting here that there are many similarities between the Vietnamese and English language, such as the un­stress, stress and level / oblique tones. The only difference is the strength of the sounds. Old English was mostly monosyllabic up until the adaptation of polysyllabic words from French and Latin. This adaptation permits us to readily accept English Blank Verse, which utilizes alliteration (repetition) in ways that other polysyl­labic languages such as French, cannot accept, because they are not strongly stress.)

Poets used descriptive styles and alliteration techniques to cre­ate rhythm in free verse poetry, combined with the critical quali­ties of enjambment and narration from English poetic rules, andthen channeling into traditional Vietnamese to be the forms 5, 7, 8 words and six-eight blank verse poetry. Quite exceptional, Vietnamese New Formalism poetry sets new standards while as­piring to even greater heights, able to harmonize all the various poetic forms with free-verse poetry. But then again, why not just keep on composing free verse poetry, why force conformity with forms? We already know that there are many ways to differenti­ate between poetry and prose, but, as for form, poetic rules are the defining characteristic. When prose is composed, we write to the end of the line before we start a new line; and so, if the poem has no form at all, then it becomes a prosaic composition. Although it harmonizes with free verse poetry, Vietnamese Blank Verse is more akin to prose poetry than it is to other types of modern free-verse poetry.

Besides accepting Blank Verse poetic forms, via an American Avant Gard movement, there is another reason. Perhaps ingrained in the psyche of the refugee/immigrant, there is the motive to un­derstand who we are and who the different peoples around us are, thus giving rise to the need for the discovery of new poetic forms. Thereby, a need to employ new means in which to gain mutual understanding between Vietnamese and other cultures is realized. And thus, the issue of translation becomes central.

“The purpose of New Formalism poetry is to propel Vietnamese poetry onto the international stage. That is why translation is em­phasized to seek readers from different languages and cultures. If the old markings are too submerged in cultural or linguistic systems, then the foreign reader would not understand, including the young Vietnamese readers presently in Vietnam. But everyone knows that poetry cannot be truly or fully translated because the sounds of a language cannot be translated. This is especially true with traditional poetry, in which the sounds of the language give rise to the musical quality of poetry.”3

That is why New Formalism poetry must change the way it is written, in response to the demands of translation. With respect to words, if normal, everyday language is used to make poetry, then poetry becomes absent of rare and archaic words, and the readers do not get stuck with words when they read poetry. As for style, poetry moves closer to prose and utilizes repetition in order to cre­ate rhythm, so meter is conserved, and traces of prose are removed to form poetry.”4

Because, upon translation, the sounds of one language are con­fused in another language, meaning is lost if translations are word for word. Otherwise, if a verse is translated literally, the result will be a very distasteful verse in the target language. In poetry, musi­cal and rhythmic qualities are pervasive, linking up emotions and ideas. So the translation of poetry is no easy task; this we all know. In order to resolve these matters, we must first change the way we compose before any translation is rendered. For example, al­literation (repetition) techniques in Vietnamese poetry add a new critical dimension to rhythm which upon English translation is preserved. The English reader will be able to read the poem as if it was composed in English and not in another language originally. Another advantage is that the English reader is able to empathize and relate to a foreign country and culture even though they are reading uniquely different poems. Those who read Vietnamese will recognize, upon encountering the English translation of the poem, the outstanding characteristics of Vietnamese poetry for one simple reason: a bilingual reading is deliberate and otherwise time-consuming, requiring careful and thorough reading of the poem.

An American poetry commentator (critic), Angela Saunders, had the following thoughts about Vietnamese New Formalism poetry when she wrote her introduction for the anthology Poetry Nar­rates.

“Poetry itself, in any language, is a traditional literary method to pass oral accounts and stories from one generation to another. The rhythm and sounds of a poem provide the means of delivery and way to remember the verse. Sounds that flow in the native tongue of one language are linguistically specific and are not easily trans­lated into another language. A poem set to melodies and tunes in a native tongue lose its aesthetic appeal in translation. Thus a conundrum is created. In an increasingly mobile society, how does one bridge the gaps between linguistic, cultural, and generational barriers while preserving traditional heritage?”5

And she recognized the following characteristics of Vietnamese New Formalism poetry,

“[As] a patterned number of syllables, enjambments are used at exact syllable counts that remain consistent throughout the poem. This means that a thought that begins on one line may continue or suddenly stop on the next. Traditionally, enjambments, or stops, will occur to highlight specific words or thoughts. This unnatural stop pattern will often enhance the visual and emotional impact of the poem. Each use of repetition, enjambment, and imagery allow us to truly see the beauty of the thoughts each author is try­ing to portray. The placement of each word is such that one must consider each meaning implied by positioning, line endings, and strong sensory imagery. For each element paints a desired portrait; each word an integral part of the poem; and each repetition and position shouting out the thoughts of the author and the translator and each poem taking on life of its own.”6

Once the poem is translated and able to be read as if it was an original composition, the result is that American and Vietnamese poets can read each others’ poems in two languages.7 As exam­ples, such interesting meeting of the minds happened in “Bilin­gual Poetry” (a bilingual edition) and “Other Poetry Voices” from web site www.thotanhinhthuc.org. In a letter calling for American poets to lend their voices, I wrote,

“Come join us in this small, yet warm corner of poetry. Let us raise a glass and toast each other in this meeting of minds. Dear friends and colleagues, only poetry has the ability to transform us and let us see each other for what we truly are, as equals, and to share suffering as well as happiness in the human condition.”8

To recap, the past ten years of Vietnamese New Formalism poetry have accomplished notable results. Actually, there are no bad po­etic forms, only limits of expressions. For example, in the middle of the 14th century, the Earl of Surrey translated Italian poetry as blank verse in English poetry, but it wasn’t until a half century later that William Shakespeare, and another hundred years later that John Milton, brought Blank Verse poetry to justly deserved prominence. It is important to recognize the 64 poets who have made these concepts a reality in the bilingual anthology of “Blank Verses”, and the 21 poets who made up the bilingual collection of “Poetry Narrates”. We believe that, as long as change is a neces­sity for poets and they are able to communicate with the world beyond their own immediate societies, they will seek readers from other languages and cultures, and so Vietnamese Blank Verse will continue to be an effective and essential vehicle.

            Gyảng Anh Iên

            Crab-Meat Noodle Soup

            How can he understand, how

            the bicycle of ten years ago

            again rushes into his memory,

            when he sits and eats a bowl

            of crab-meat noodle soup on

            the sidewalk, which exactly

            ten years before he rode his

            bicycle to school, at the


            time the lady selling crab-

            meat noodle soup was yet to

            get married and fat like now

            and, was welcoming guesses with


            alacrity so that (she)

            could quickly sell the load of

            crab-meat noodles, while the after-

            noon tornado was dragging


            into his memory, with

            the white shirt dripping wet, but

            he no longer knew where to

            stroll, crossed the road where he’s

            sitting and eating the crab-

            meat noodle soup of ten years

            later, and doesn’t know how

            he had eaten all the memories.


            Translated by Trần Vũ Liên Tâm


The poet Tunisia notes the following about the poem “Crab-Meat Noodle Soup”: “Crab-Meat Noodle Soup” of Gyảng Anh Iên presents “a bicycle, a bowl of crab-meat noodle soup, the wom­an who sells crab-meat noodle soup, a bout of rain…” ten years earlier, he didn’t eat a bowl of crab-meat noodle soup, ten years later he ate it and recalls ten years earlier when he rode a bike to school, across a crab-meat noodle soup eating-place. The woman who sold crab-meat noodle soup ten years earlier had not married, while the woman who sold Crab-Meat Noodle Soup ten years lat­er probably has married, thus fatten out. And through the poem, his memory flashes, half clear, half confused, finally to disappear altogether like the bowl of crab-meat noodle soup that has been eaten, leaving no memories.”

But in order to realize that he had not eaten a bowl of crab-meat noodle soup ten years earlier, only to be eaten ten years later, a string of words and verses had to be craftily assembled, and disas­sembled, because memory is meshed up in images, inseparable and without clear chronological order. But that’s not all, memory is presented simultaneously with the eating of the crab-meat noo­dle soup, from the time the bike is parked, until the time when the bout of rain pours down, and then where the bike goes is unknow­able, creating an illusion with the effect that eating the bowl of crab-meat noodle soup is like eating one’s own memories, so that memories have been transformed into present realities.



            many times randomly

            like tonight, it or some

            thing like it, cannot up-

            turn on its own, that is

            when I drop on the desk

            a bunch of books condemning|

            leading the way, the roach

            still lays upward hopeless

            on the hall’s floor of room

            number seven, who knows

            [] the reason, its head

            holding the earth feet

            stomping the sky, despite

            running water in the

            bathroom or breathing noise

            of the blue workers,

            something like that, what shall

            I do to help the roach

            turn over [].

            Translated by Trần Vũ Liên Tâm


The poem “Blabber”, although it uses common language but it re­flects abstract concepts. Poetry is not a matter of the rational mind but of emotions. In a rare moment, the mind is no longer existent in the present; poetry captures reality (in that moment), and when mind is restored, reality is transformed into images of the intellect, appearing to the reader via words. Like the poem “Crab-Meat Noodle Soup”, with images from ten years past and ten years later, the poem “Blabber” juxtaposes two conflicting scenarios whichbalance each other, the cockroach (vulgar) and a bunch of books (sublime). Like the cockroach lying belly up, obviously immobile, while the bunch of books is place on the table from a dynamic to a static state, describing a disturbed state of mind, the poet curses the cockroach which is blocking the hallway leading to the room. The poem becomes undeterminable and delusional.

Nguyễn Tất Độ

(Some) Insane People

He likes to run in circles

and spins while running, but he is

not dizzy he even

laughs joyously, he keeps running

in circles day after

day and spins while running, conscious

times as drunk times, days as

nights, he’s not asleep, everyone

says he is crazy and

persists in saying he is crazy

and he still runs in circles,

and spins while running so that,

the movements of the planet

which he and the human are living.


Translated by Trần Vũ Liên Tâm

Regarding the poem “(Some) Insane People ”, we associate with the thoughts of Gyảng Anh Iên, who identifies that the musical quality in New Formalism poetry is a kind of cyclical music pat­tern. Perhaps that is true for now but, later on, other New For­malism poets may discover other musical qualities, more diverse and dynamic. Yet cyclical music patterns are quite appealing and appropriate to the contents of this poem. Really “(Some) Insane People”!


            The Crying Buffaloes

            The crying buffaloes entered my life.

            The male buffalo Mok, proudlly in his

            land, led the herd across the hill; a tiger

            slapped on his butt, and a truck carried

            him back. He refused to eat grass, cried, and

            believed that he was dying. My dad dug

            a pit deeper than my height, and buried

            him with branches full of leaves; my mom cried.

            Exactly a year later, the old female

            buffalo Jiong stood crying, watched her

            grandchildren being led away by the ’62

            epidemic, and felt the loneliness

in the hollow stable, where her few offspring

sat crying. The bull Pac with long horns

gloriously rubbed and broke two wings of

the plow yoke every season. When my
dad went out to his mom, my youngest uncle

howled and with my other uncles tied the

bull, then sawed away half of his left horn;

the bull cried madly, shook as fiercely as

the day he had been castrated, and as worse

than being castrated for looking like nobody.

When my dad came back home, the bull cried. His

companion, the female Pateh, cried endlessly

for her quasi-masculine beauty. My

dad made her help pull the wagon, and

her peers forgot that she was a female

buffalo; only she remembered that

she was still a virgin and that over

six farming seasons she cried without tears.

The buffaloes cried and wetted my naïve years.

Translated by Phan Khế


Finally, Inrasara’s “The Crying Buffaloes” with the notes of the poet Tom Riordan,

“The Crying Buffaloes is about how the real and imagined pain of buffaloes soaked the narrator’s childhood, as if there had been a magical window between the narrator’s soul and the family’s buffaloes’ pain. Important things are clearly happening with and between the people of the family, too, but it only registers via the buffaloes.”


1 & 2/ Khe Iem, New Formalism, Four Quartets, and The Other Essays, Ebook, website www.thotanhinhthuc.org.

3/ Formal Poetry and Related Terms: Formalism, New Formalism, Neo-Formal­ism, Pseudo-Formalism, Neo-Classicism, Traditional Poetry, and the Multitudi­nous Variations Thereof by Michael R. Burch.

5/ ”Publisher’s Notes” – Poetry Narrates.

6 & 7/ “Introduction”, Angela Saunders, Translated by Phạm Kiều Tùng into Vietnamese – “Poetry Narrates”.

8/ In only the first two weeks, ten American poets sent their poems to participate in “The Other Poetry Voices”: poets Alden Alden, Bill Duke, Frederick Feirstein, Frederick Turner, Michael Lee Johnson, James Murphy, Rick Stansberger, Ste­phen John Kalinich, L. K. Thayer và Tom Riordan.

Translated by DoVinh, completed August 3, 2010

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"Paddle Paddle Paddle Your Raft" poem by Helen Bar-Lev, Israel

19 Settembre 2020, 06:35am

Pubblicato da immagine.poesia.over-blog.it

The Volta River, Ghana, coloured pencils and ink Helen Bar-Lev 2020

The Volta River, Ghana, coloured pencils and ink Helen Bar-Lev 2020

Paddle Paddle Paddle Your Raft


Paddle paddle paddle your raft

madly down the rapids

harder harder faster faster

stir up the mud

stir up the sludge

strike a boulder

whoops - the raft’s flipped over

and now you’re floundering 

in the water

oh do stop wailing

who told you that life

would be easy sailing?


© 2.2017 Helen Bar-Lev

Rema, rema, rema con la pagaia sulla tua canoa


Rema, rema, rema con la pagaia sulla tua canoa


follemente giù per le rapide


più duramente  più duramente  più veloce più veloce


agita il fango


agita la melma


colpisci un masso


Ops, la canoa si è ribaltata


E adesso stai annaspando


in acqua


oh smettila di lamentarti


chi ti ha detto che la vita


sarebbe stata una navigazione facile?


(Translated in Italian by Lidia Chiarelli)

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SHPILKES poem by Stanley H. Barkan, USA

18 Settembre 2020, 04:46am

Pubblicato da immagine.poesia.over-blog.it

After twelve weeks of sheltered in place / quarantined, because of the
Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times,” now in the form
of Covid -19, the virus borne out of Wuhan, my wife Bebe is suffering
from advanced shpilkes.  Every day she says, “When is this going to end?!
Like all Jewish women, she loves shopping, so much so, that no matter
how bad her back pain is, and she’s shopping, it immediately disappears.
So, now deprived for so long, she cleans out her clothes closet, finds an
old blouse and skirt, doesn’t recall when she wore them before, thus
it’s like a replacement for shopping.  Yesterday, she put on the old/new
blouse and skirt, and went looking for more in the now cleaned-up closet.
For the rest of yesterday, she didn’t seem to be suffering too much from
shpilkes, but, every once in a while, she would cry out, “Dr. Kervorkian,
where are you when I need you?!”  And so it goes when a woman is deprived
of Century 21, Nordstrom’s Off the Rack, Sachs Off Fifth,  and other boutiques.
For now, Bebe’s closet will have to do, a short respite for her shpilkes.
—Stanley H. Barkan
From a new collection in process, Fifteeners,
after the 15-line poems in William Heyen’s Vehicles (2020)
...she puts on the old/new blouse and skirt...

...she puts on the old/new blouse and skirt...

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"THE REVERIE-FORBIDDEN FRUIT AND THE WORLD OF WORDS" by Tram Phuc Khac, translated by Tran Vu Lien Tam-Vietnam

10 Settembre 2020, 16:44pm

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"WORLD OF WORDS" Digital Collage by Lidia Chiarelli, Italy

"WORLD OF WORDS" Digital Collage by Lidia Chiarelli, Italy





By Tram Phuc Khac, translated by Tran Vu Lien Tam.

(To Nguyen Luong Vy, Le Giang Tran, Trinh Y Thu, Khe Iem, and Phan Tan Hai)


The world which we are living in is a world of words. Words made our world. We’re living in a world which is becoming wordier.

If there are no words, then what? Would there be a world?

Adam did not really speak any words to Eve.

Until Eve met the Serpent, then it was just because of the luring words of the Serpent that Eve took a bite of the Reverie-Forbidden Fruit. And also just because of the luring words of Eve that Adam took a bite of the left-over part of that Reverie-Forbidden Fruit. 

This is the tree of Knowledge. The fruit of such the tree of Knowledge in the garden next to the river of Life, there are two parts. One is the Forbidden Fruit; the other is the Reverie. Eve knowingly or unknowingly ate the half-side of the Forbidden Fruit. She is the embodiment of the Forbidden Fruit. And the other half, the Reverie side, she saved just to give to Adam.

Thus, words are both, the Forbidden Fruit and the Reverie. Words are this world of ours, the world of dramas, half Forbidden Fruit, half Reverie, not to be separated, and words cannot be any other way. Since there were words, then there must be wishes, dates, pledges, promises, and thus there are dramas.

The Forbidden Fruits are spoken words, seductive and soul-hunted. And the Reveries are unspoken words, but those are repetitive words which go further back in the subconscious mind and become the repository of ideas, thoughts and creativities. 

Thus, our world of Words, the double-crossed world, a dichotomy, from the beginning already bears a drama status. And because of bearing a drama status, the role of Life is thus reenacted within each second. This each second is the ending-point of being, continued by the being-point of ending, no matter how great the Knowledge is, that such role of Life is never resting.

And the Drama started like that, the Drama which creates our life, from the beginning of Words.

Then where is the separation of Words and No-Words? A world within the Outside of Words, where Adam had never spoken any words to Eve - how can we get there?

The truth is that our world of Words is only a sand speck in the immense universe, which has always been wordless. This is a universe of a world within the Outside of Words, which we have always belonged to. But this world converse with us only in a wordless language, the language which we typically forget to interact with because, for a very long time, we have become lazy and alienated, and perhaps, we have already forgotten that we also own another world, where Adam never spoke any words to Eve.

Imagine, a writer finds a poem, like a painter finds a painting, like a composer finds a chord. That is, a poem which is yet being written, a painting being painted, a chord being arranged. Or which is a poem, a painting, a chord which is lost, continuously lost in the drama of the dichotomy of creativity. Despite, on the other side of the Knowledge garden, there has always been another world, a world-less world, an extremity world, with a wordless poem, a colorless painting, a silent chord, and, in such a world, no dates are needed because no dramas exist.

Come back to Words. Sounds and thoughts went through so many changing filters, concluded with language and created Words. Words are the bridge of human thoughts. And written words came last, stored and passed down to succeeding generations, the life treasure of human civilization.

Each poem is a world of Words. Each piece of writing is a world of Words. Each chord is a world of Words. Each painting is a world of Words. Each only exists through Words. And Words, like the most passionate kiss in life, half the Forbidden Fruit, half the Reverie, from forever, already created the captivating drama for our lives.


Tram Phuc Khac, translated by Tran Vu Lien Tam


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