Vu Thanh Hoa: “Literature is the light that illuminates the way to the truth in the most miserable situations such as war, poverty, epidemics…”

Σας παρουσιάζουμε την poet, writer Vu Thanh Hoa from Vietnam

Επιμέλεια συνέντευξης: Εύα Πετροπούλου Λιανού

Μετάφραση: Kieu Bich Hau

Her biography: Poet, writer Vu Thanh Hoa, born in 1969 in Hanoi, the author of many works of Poetry and Prose. Studied at Law University in Ho Chi Minh City – Vietnam. Currently being the Head of Literature Department and Head of the Editorial Department of Van Nghe magazine of the Ba Ria-Vung Tau Association of Literature and Arts, Vietnam.

Her works: The pain of leaves (Poetry collection, Vietnam Writers’ Association Publishing House 2006), Arts and Literature Prize of Ba Ria – Vung Tau People’s Committee in 2004-2009, In me there is another woman (Poetry collection, Writers’ Association Publishing House, 2009), The one who sees through the soul (Story collection, Vietnam Writers’ Association Publishing House, 2011), Last night’s proposal (Poetry Collection, Writers’ Association Publishing House, 2012), Luc Bat Street (Poetry collection, Vietnam Writers’ Association Publishing House, 2015), Seducing myself (Poetry collection, Vietnam Writers’ Association Publishing House, 2023), Wave (Stories collection, Writers’ Association Publishing House, 2023)

Her award: The Green Age Work Award of Tien Phong Newspaper in 1992, the Excellent Extremely Short Stories Award by the New World Magazine in 1993, the Ba Ria – Vung Tau Arts and Literature Award (2000-2005, 2004- 2009), First Prize for the Excellent Extremely Short Story on the Literature Union page in 2007, the Nguyen Tieu Good Poetry Prize in 2021 of the Ho Chi Minh City Writers’ Association, the Poetry Prize “Humanism in the Southern Land” in 2021 by the Ho Chi Minh City Writers’ Association.

Share your thoughts on the future of literature? When did you start writing prose/writing poetry? History has proven that all human happiness and suffering are predicted and recorded by literature. Literature will forever exist and develop along with human development. I started writing when I was 8 years old, that time my family had been in Africa for 3 years. The whole family moved to Dar es Salaam with my father as Ambassador of Vietnam to Tanzania and 7 African countries (Including Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Congo, Zambia and Mozambique). In the Embassy I had no friends my age, my happiness was reading a lot of books. This happiness has had a profound effect on my life. I write novels and comics and then turn into books, the first readers were my parents and some embassy staff. I also brought it to my friends from the International School I attended at the time, but they only saw the pictures and didn’t understand much of my ideas. When I was 12 years old, I just started composing poetry because I admired poets like Shakespeare, Tagore, Pushkin, Alexander Block, Rasul Gamzatov… at that time I was just an imitator, I had a whole collection of poems written in sonnet form with the thoughts of an elementary school girl! I had followed my parents to many countries in Africa and Europe until I returned to Vietnam when I was 13 years old, that special memory gives me a unique color in my works. I won the first national award, the Green Age Award in 1992 when I was 23 years old for the Short Story category. I wrote poetry a lot after my marriage broke up, I was 33 years old that time. Literature is an important motivation for me to love life and raise my two children.

Please share about the good as well as the bad about the current literature? Who is the winner today? Literature is the light that illuminates the way to the truth in the most miserable situations such as war, poverty, epidemics. From the time humans used quill pens to the time they use computer keyboards, those are just different ways to record achievements from the soul and mind. Literature has given me many interesting things: precious friends, the happiness of creating and diversity of human. An artist who has deeply influenced my conception of literature is the poet and musician Nguyen Trong Tao. He made me understand that if we want to renew Literature, we must first renew ourselves. If the thought of writers and poets is always conservative, holding on to old and narrow notions, then their works are just like that. Maybe some people mistakenly think that current literature is behind the immediate material interests. But I believe they will realize that a progressive society must build on a developed culture and have its own identity. The younger generation is always the winner. They bring with them the fire of passion, along with their knowledge and creative skills, they will be the keepers and developers of literature and art, overcoming the obstacles of adversity and the narrow prejudices of some people.

How many books/poems have you published so far? And how can international readers access and read your books/poems? Up to this moment, I have published 7 books of my own and shared more than 20 anthologies with other authors. I am grateful to the Internet age for making my stories and poems not only available in bookstores, but also everywhere through electronic books and on my website I want to express my sincere thanks to Vietnamese translators such as writer Kieu Bich Hau, poet Khanh Phuong, some friends and artists living in France, USA… for translating my works and introducing them to colleagues and international readers. I also want to make my small contribution to promoting Vietnamese authors and works so that the world knows more and understands more a unique literature formed by the history of fighting to protect and build Vietnam.

What is the future of printed books and e-books? I think the future of printed books will be preserved and developed together with e-books. Those are two sides that are parallel, not mutually exclusive. Books, in any form, are a link connecting generations of society and a symbol of human civilization.

Your wish for 2023? Can you quote a short passage from your book/poetry? I wish that the world is always peaceful, people always love each other, Literature and Art are always developed and created.

One of my poems:

“who’s crying

who is smiling?

who turns a blind eye

love and hate fake and real all around

moonlit night moonless night

tomorrow will be bright anyway.”

(Excerpt from the poem “Pretending to die” by Vu Thanh Hoa)