Vũ Trọng Quang | ATTITUDE (21)

Vũ Trọng Quang, the acclaimed Vietnamese poet currently lives and work in Saigon, Vietnam.

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

A poem in Vietnamese by Vũ Trọng Quang, translation by Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm


Rediscovering the sugarless coffee

the blue-black drop

as fresh as yesterday

afternoons thick with dusk

ready cigarette and fresh filter

on heaving breasts as fresh as yesterday


Rediscovering my hanging shadow

a loose long strong shadow 

pulling me up

me, curling up like a fetus


Some weep with words

while I weep with silence


Hid soundly the anxieties

the chaotic memories

brave just that one time


As I took another bite of my liver

another shot of spirit


A sore tooth

an empty apology

at the pit of despair

May 2022



(Tặng Phương Trâm thơ có Rượu)


Tìm lại ly cà phê không đường

nhỏ giọt đen xanh

như xưa xanh

chiều đặc quánh

thường trực điếu đen đầu lọc xanh

ngực xưa xanh


Tìm lại bóng tôi treo lên

bóng thoát dài mạnh mẽ

cái bóng kéo tôi treo lên

tôi rút mình yếu đắm


Người rơi nước mắt bằng tiếng nói

tôi rơi nước mắt bằng lặng yên


Gìn giữ sâu đo phiền toái

âm ỉ trí nhớ

cần thiết một lần can đảm


Thêm một ly rượu mạnh

tôi cắn vào lá gan của mình


cái răng đau

xin lỗi trống trong tận cùng

chỗ điếng sâu


Vũ Trọng Quang

By Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm

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

6 replies on “Vũ Trọng Quang | ATTITUDE (21)”

In my culture, liver is a common food to eat. When I read the lines,
“As I took another bite of my liver
another shot of spirit”
of course I knew the intended meaning, but i just couldn’t ignore how fascinating it is that I am able to perceive a deeper level of meaning in these parts of the poem. I don’t know if it was intended as that–maybe it was, judging from “another shot of spirit (alcohol/human spirit)”–but i know not everyone would think of liver as an actual food when they read this.

the uncomfortable quietness in this poem is so strong that I read the poem multiple times just to feel it. Thank you very much for translating this piece and sharing it with us. I hope all is well, my friend.

Cheers ~

Liked by 1 person

Poetry is open to interpretation, you should trust your intinct. Vietnamese people consume everything in an animal. The poet have written this poem for me, I guess, it is about me. 🙂 . I don’t know if I live my life that way, or I’m like that at all? Or it’s his perception of me. Perhaps you see something I have not.. I just found the entire thing interesting. As in the human connection aspect of everything through poetry.. I appreciate your feed back, this intangible connection through language.. I will have another look at the poem.. try and see what you saw.. I am burning out a bit.. I will finally get to meet some of the people I’ve translated for next month.. get more insight, recharge.. I hope you are well as well.. stay safe, take a moment for yourself too my dear. Cheers, Tram.

Liked by 1 person

I took a week off translating, and read Pachinko. So good. I feel like I’m disappointing a whole bunch of poets and writers, when I take these breaks though. I know it sounds silly. But, sharing their work means a lot to me, more than I’m sure it is for them. But, you’re right. I think I’m going to take another week off and just read English. Thanks for listening to me vent. 😊

Liked by 1 person

I think your health means much more to them, and if you don’t have the mental strength and capacity to put your full spirit and being behind their work, when sharing them, then your effort will not be as purposeful. Rest. Those who truly care about you and what you do will wait.

Liked by 1 person

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