Poet Nguyen Quang Thieu brings Vietnamese literature to the world hinh anh 1Poet Nguyen Quang Thieu has devoted his time and best efforts to the country’s literature. (Source: VietnamPlus)

Hanoi (VNA) –
Poet Nguyen Quang Thieu has devoted his time and best efforts to the country’s literature by popularising Vietnamese works to foreign friends.

Thieu was born in 1957 in Ung Hoa district, the capital city of Hanoi. He is best known for his modern poetry collections that have been translated into many languages. He studied in Cuba, then worked at Van Nghe (Culture-Art) newspapers. He is now the Director of the Vietnam Writers’ Association’s Publishing House.

Nearly 30 of his works, including poems, short stories, fictions, and translated poems, have been printed. He also won various awards of the Military Literuature Magazine, the Literature newspaper, and the Vietnam Writers’ Associations.

He was elected as Chairman of the Vietnam Writers’ Association (VWA) at the association’s tenth congress for the 2020-2025, which was held in Hanoi from November 23 to 25.

The congress attracted the participation of nearly 600 writers, poets, arts critics and translations representing VWA members across the country, who reviewed the operations and achievements of the association over the past five years and mapped out major tasks for the upcoming tenure.

With the new mission, Thieu expressed his honour to receive the Party, State and VWA members’ trust, saying it is also a big challenge for  him to develop the VWA with more than 1,000 members in the context of modern era.

Earlier, Huu Thinh and other writers and poets formed an important ground to promote activities of the writers’ association. Now, Thieu said he has to do something new in a familiar path.

“In a new stage, we need works with stronger content and topics that reflect social issues in a straightforward manner”, he said.

“Writers must bring a breath of the contemporary air into their works, and keep abreast with the emotions of the people and the problems facing society. They should not only focus on major issues but also on little things and little-known people. Writers have to share such things with the people, and speak out about them.”

As a sociable and foreign-language proficient person, Thieu has become a bridge to connect Vietnamese and international authors, and help Vietnamese literature reach out to the world.

Poet Nguyen Quang Thieu brings Vietnamese literature to the world hinh anh 2Thieu has become a bridge to connect Vietnamese and international authors (Source: VietnamPlus)

The fierce wars in Vietnam and the country’s heroic struggle for national dependence and freedom have got reputation worldwide. Many foreign friends told Thieu that they want to know how life is in Vietnam, what people think and how Vietnamese literature has been developed. Their curiosity increased when the works of Vietnamese writers and poets like Bao Ninh, Nguyen Ngoc Tu and Mai Van Phan won international prizes.

“They asked me if there were other works worth reading, and why there were few works translated into foreign language”, Thieu said.

He believed it is necessary to select works for translation that best represent Vietnamese literature, and these should be introduced regionally and then to the world. Thieu stressed that support from state management agencies like the culture ministry's Publishing Department and International Co-operation Department is necessary if Vietnamese literature works are to appear at major book fairs in the world such as in Frankfurt (Germany), Bologna (Italy), London (UK), and Helsinki (Finland).

“We thought of establishing a website to introduce Vietnamese literature in English, and publish a literature magazine in English. We could introduce short stories, excerpts from popular works, or portraits of authors. Agencies would then be able to contact writers directly to exchange information on copyrights and arrange translations and publication abroad,” he said.

Thieu is confident that the plan is feasible since there are so many excellent translators in Vietnam while renowned foreign writers and poets also stand ready to help edit the translated versions.

“COVID-19 resulted in many cultural activities being moved online, but even without the pandemic, this needs to be done because we are now witnessing an information explosion,” he said.

Besides popularising Vietnamese literature, Thieu also seeks ways to increase the VWA’s position in the international literature community through various channels, such as the Asia-Africa-Latin America writers’ association where he once served as deputy secretary, the Vietnam – Republic of Korea writers’ association for peace of which he was a co-founder, and the Mekong literature award set up in 2006 under the initiative of the VWA.

“The VWA will attend international events with a better position following what Vietnam has done in controlling the pandemic. I want the association to host international awards as it will inspire Vietnamese authors to compose more”, he said.

Poet Nguyen Quang Thieu brings Vietnamese literature to the world hinh anh 3(Source: VietnamPlus)

Poets Huu Thinh and Thieu presented a project to host the lotus award of the Asia-Africa-Latin Africa writers’ association, hoping many foreign writers will come and introduce their works in Vietnam.

In the meantime, Thinh has paid due heed to improving quality of translated works in Vietnam. Local readers have enjoyed quintessence of global literature with works translated to Vietnamese from English, French, Polish and Chinese.

“Many publishing houses like Nha Nam and Dong A are meticulous at choosing foreign literature works. Along with contents, they invest big in book layout design to meet demand of the readers”, he added./.