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POETRY/THƠ

Hoàng Xuân Sơn | A F I E L D B L E A C H E D W H I T E I N S P R I N G (10)

Hoàng Xuân Sơn

A renowned poet, born 1942, writes under various pseudonyms: Hoàng Xuân Sơn, Sử Mặc, Hoàng Hà Tỉnh, Vô Ðịnh…
Hometown: Vỹ Dạ, Huế.
Lý Thường Kiệt Primary
Bán Công High School and Quốc Học Huế High School
Bachelor of philosophy, and postgraduate of political science and commerce at The university of Văn Khoa Sài Gòn.
Worked at the Ministry of Transport and Communication, a branch of the General Department of Postal Service of the Republic of Vietnam.
After 1975 worked in the Postal Office for 7 years. December 1981 settled in Montreal, Canada.

The poet’s career span from 1970 to the present day his work has been published in many literary publications. In vietnam: Văn, Chính Văn, Diễn Ðàn, Khởi Hành, Nghiên Cứu Văn Học, Ðối Diện, Thân Hữu, Xây Dựng Nông Thôn, Ngưỡng Cửa, Nhà Văn. Outside of Vietnam: Làng Văn, Văn Học, Văn, Thế Kỷ 21, Chủ Ðề, Sóng, Sóng Văn, Nắng Mới, Saigon Times, Hợp Lưu, Phố Văn, Gío Văn , Canh Tân, Ði Tới, tạp chí Thơ.

Collaborating platforms: Litviet (U.S.A), Tienve (Australia), Vanchuongviet… and the translations of his poetry into English by Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm on SONGNGUTAITRAM.

Published work:

Viễn Phố (thơ, Việt Chiến xb 1988)
Huế Buồn Chi (thơ,93)
Lục Bát (thơ, 2005)

Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm, the poet and translator, born 1971 in Phu Nhuan, Saigon, Vietnam. The pharmacist currently lives and works in Western Sydney, Australia.

By Hoàng Xuân Sơn, translation by Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm

A    F I E L D   B L E A C H E D   W H I T E   I N   S P R I N G

[white like eyes 

rolled upward. Mường Khương]

in passing, I saw your poem.   your

icily cloaked in a spectrum of colours

where shimmered dormant is a love story

seemed to have shattered my slumber

wholly flooded the frontier of coexistence

.

we’re the veins, vessels, bits and pieces

the breathing beneath the leaves

and dampness being the night

.

there’s no life left in plastic

the bottles collecting dust

the labels peeling the seal hidden

I find my way back to Phố Cẩm

a regal feral cat

saw nothing but chunks of nephrite

mulch covered springs

the dark eyes, the deep dark bottom of a lake

buried in the sandy banks a maple leaf

the season wiggling with the changeable wind

.

you won’t be able to hear the tinkling sound of music

rinse and dry

adding salt to the wound

the fire high at its peaking

level of dire straits

.

March 2021

B  Ạ  C  H   H  Ó  A   Đ  Ồ  N  G   X  U    N

                       [trắng như mắt

                        dã.         mường khương]

tôi nhác thấy bài thơ em.  của bạn

choàng rất lạnh một gam màu

nơi chuyện tình riu ríu ngủ

hình như cùng đổ vỡ giấc tôi

đã tràn thấu biên cương trùng cảm

.

chúng ta còn gân mạch li ti

thở dưới lá

và ẩm ướt thì đêm

.

nhựa đã không còn sức sống

đóng chai hàng bụi

nhãn bong con dấu ẩn chìm

tôi lần mò về cẩm phố

tơ lụa mèo hoang

chỉ thấy đá mù nhấp nhô

suối cỏ mùn

con mắt đen là đáy hồ thẳm

bờ cát vùi nông một lá phong cầm

gió chở mùa lung leng

.

em sẽ không còn nghe tiếng leng keng sóng lùa tâm nhạc

rửa sạch và đắp khô

muối dự phần da thêm bỏng rát

lửa cừ đã chín

độ trầm luân

.

h o à n g   x u â n   s ơ n

{26 tháng tư 2016}

.

NB.

In general, I feel rather lost translating HXS’s poetry. Reading Vietnamese poetry at first glance I generally capture the mood, but never truly grasp the plot until I translate it, equating to fully reading the work. I don’t know if it’s the East meet West scenario here, but I do feel like I’m doing an excavation of the poet’s vernacular.

In trying to understand the poet’s vernacular I often find myself reading newspaper articles and watching thirty-minutes Youtube videos like I did today on “đá mù”- how buying an uncut piece of nephrite is like gambling! The randomness of my general knowledge has unexpectedly expanded in the most interesting way.

My conclusion to all this; don’t let incomprehension stop you from taking that step into the total unknown. What you will find is more than the poem, or for that matter, the story, the poet, the writer. What you will find ultimately is the curiosity of a child. The inner child.

By Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm

There's magic in translating a body of work from one language to another.

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