I’m honored to announce the publication of two poems from my Vietnam series in the “Vietnam Forever,” 5th Anniversary double issue of Perfume River Poetry Review by Tourane Poetry Press in San Jose, California.
About “Morning Market, Sa Đéc 1981”
For this poem, I highlighted the collection of scenes from the market place as representatives of a larger reality. Post-war Vietnam, where the transfer of wealth from one privileged class to another had created incomprehensible poverty and deficit, was “the worst of times.” People haggled over the price of one green mango and one liter of fish sauce. A toy pot made of clay was considered a luxury item. And when human and cultural survival is under such an attack, sometimes it’s necessary to pretend not to see the disturbing things right in front of you (just as the child in the poem pretended not to see the fly walked across the old woman’s eyes) in order for life to press onward. By showing these scenes through a child’s lens, I remove politics from the narrative, making the political personal. War is personal. Hunger is personal. [read poem, page 21]
This poem is as much a tribute to my wanderlust father as it is a tribute to the place that we both love. Vũng Tàu on the South China Sea was once bright and full of colors, but now only lives as an ideal backdrop for daydreams. Written as a blank verse, I wanted to use the structure of the traditional form to capture the rhythm of the sea, which was the constant heartbeat beneath the skin of all our narratives. [read poem, page 23]
About “Vietnam Forever” from Vuong Vo, Editor of Perfume River Poetry Review
I have decided to do a double issue for our fifth anniversary. One issue will explore Vietnamese culture, celebrate our heritage, and give voice to what it means to be Vietnamese. The second issue will be a tribute to Vietnam War veterans and survivors, whose stories need to be told and need to be heard—now more than ever. As there must be time for war and a time for peace, there too must an issue for war and one that allows poems to sing about Vietnam. Print issues are $15 each.