Tran Nhuan Minh: “I’m very grateful to the poets who translated my poetry and prose”

Επιμέλεια συνέντευξης: Εύα Πετροπούλου Λιανού

His biography: Poet Tran Nhuan Minh was born in 1944 in Hai Duong (Vietnam), since 1962, he has been living and writing in Quang Ninh, and already compiled and introduced 6 great poets Khuat Nguyen, Sergey Yesenin, Rasul Gamzatov, Yannis Ritsos, Nicholas Ghiden, Walt Whitman in a series of Selected world poetry books (2004). He received 26 literary awards. About Poetry: Vietnam Writers’ Association Award 2003 (Wild Sonata); State Prize 2007 (Poet and Flowers, Wild Sonata); Mekong River Literary Prize in Cambodia 2020 (Over the Yangtze wave). About Prose: Second Prize of Fiction 2020 (Island on the Horizon). About Research: Dao Tan Prize 2023 (The voice of time – Finding the Truth – Literary Dialogue).

Dear Honorable Poet, please share your thoughts about the pandemic and the future of literature after the pandemic. It is a big disaster for the whole humanity, which of course can be better mitigated. But at first, we didn’t do that well. There have been a number of works written about this, but not enough to conquer readers. I set a hope on future. Because it has a profound impact on the fate of hundreds of millions of people, it is impossible not to have corresponding works.

The Good and the Bad. Who is winning in nowadays? The good thing is that it always accompanies people in the problems of today’s life. But the bad thing is that it will hardly be able to conquer elite readers in the future. Because of certain limitations of the individual writer and the requirements of society. Who will be the winner? Great talents like Garcia Marquez, or as Yannis Ritsos is still being born.

Tell us where inspiration is coming from for you? From the fate of people in the terrible shocks of the times: war, terrorism, natural disasters… Only from 1939 to now, with more than 80 years, but its terrible fluctuations equal to thousands of years ago combined. It is the greatest common multiple of all nations. As a poet representing my people, I was forced to speak out from there. It is a creative aspiration of mine, which never falters.

Are the people reading books or no? Yes. Now and forever. I firmly believe so. Because of this simplicity: Reading is one of HUMAN attributes. Later, the HUMAN part is larger than the ANIMAL part. Therefore, reading books will be, still, an indispensable thing of HUMANS.

How many books have you written? And where can we find your books? I have published 62 volumes of poems in our country and abroad also. Both poetry and literature have been included in popular textbooks since 1980. In order for the world’s readers to access their works, the greatest merit belongs to the translators. Many of my works have been reprinted 5 to 34 times. Prose has been translated into 7 languages in 7 countries. Poetry has been translated into 14 languages in 18 countries. There are 4 poetry books published in English, French, German and Spanish, which are distributed worldwide. I am very grateful to the poets who translated my poetry and prose.

Do you believe that our life, our destiny is written or we can change it?  Sometimes I thought so too, so in two epics: The Wild Sonata, reprinted 15 times, I created the Messiah, and the epic of 45-monochord songs of the unknown, reprinted 6 times, I created the Underworld, to explain things that I can’t explain, seem to be in control of my destiny. These two Saints are my own creation, not the Lord of any religion.

Religion is the cause of many wars – a lot of people they say that. What do you think? In the Middle Ages there were world-class religious wars that slaughtered millions of people in several countries. Now religion seems to be at the root of some ethnic wars. Therefore, it is more harsh and difficult to remove. The authorities must try to neutralize it from the beginning so that it does not happen, or if it must, it is not the main problem.

Money brings happiness? Money is needed to avoid hunger and cold, to get an education and to have medicine. That means having money will lead to a peaceful life. Happiness is higher than that, because it also lies in spiritual values that money in many cases cannot reach. Money is a means. The fool will see money as the goal. Isn’t there in a rich, comfortable 5-star house, husband and wife, brothers and sisters still kill each other?

The book. E book or Hardcover book. What will be the future? I’m sure it’s going to be time of e-book. Because it is light, the capacity is very large, meeting the utilities of many types of people. However, printed books still exist and in that situation, it is imperative to improve their value, including the content and art of the work. Of course, the structure of the book and the art presentation must also be more elaborate and attractive. That means the level must be higher. Personally, I work with e-books, but enjoying the art of works must be through printed books.

What do you think about the year of technology? Are we lost ourselves inside the mobile phone, the computers… I support technology and hope from then on, the more time goes on, the less time is spent on work, the better the result. It means that technology greatly increases the quality of life. We lived and worked for a few decades, but the result is sure that our ancestors are not as talented as it is. Whether it is “disappeared or not”, that depends on the person. Some people will disappear on their own, that’s fine. Many others will multiply themselves dozens of times. Overall, it’s still better.

Environmental issues. Is the progress the technology and the humans are responsible for all this disaster? Why? The more technology develops, the more the environment is destroyed, only more or less. That dosage is also man-made. Never before have we suffered the negative effects of the environment as we do now. Just for the climate change is already heavy. Therefore, there must be restrictive measures from the beginning, from every small thing of each person to each country. Causing environmental disaster must be considered as the greatest crime against humanity, more than war crimes.

A wish for 2023. Peace, no war, no terror and oppression.

His poems:


The first thing of the Government has is MORALITY
Is to bring people out of the war
For all families to reunite forever
And the battlefield is full of golden rice…
(45 monochord songs of the unknown)


Now I’m fed up with Spring itself
I’m in a fret for having to suffer from soakingly wet rains
Clouds don’t look like clouds with their mouse’s hair colour
O Summer! Please come fast

I don’t like Summer with the sun that whitens hair and beard
It’s so hot that I am even afraid of my old lover
Unexpectedly it pours fiendishly like rapids
O Fall! Just come along quickly…

O Fall what a fretfulness
My restless heart was filled with
a desolated sadness
Trees withered away and died in silence
O Winter! Just come to join me

Pitch dark was the dusty sky. Coldness raked our skin
Crows wail. Nothing delightful remains
One wishes to widely open all doors and gates
Chasing Winter away, then bustlingly welcome Spring…

And so, the four longed for seasons continued to come one after the other
Hating all of them, then 1oving all of them
And so
Carrying worries and meeting with difficulties
The earth continues to turn in endless HOPE…

Sàigòn April -1979