Contributors / December 2016 (Issue 34)

They Called Me To The Nation Of Poetry

by Lý Đợi

one deep night
one noon day
they hand cuffed me
to the Nation on of Poetry
What for: to help kill other poets, artists

They said
‘Hurry up!
Other wise,
guns and animo are in short supply.
gecause there are plenty of volumteers’
When I was pulled in, all was late.

Another deep night
Another strange noonday
they called me
to the Nation of Poetry
what for: to receive money to print poems and the plan of praise on newspapers

They said
‘Hurry up!
the fund is in short supply,
because many members are begging’
I did not come, because I had not killed anybody.

Another deep night
Another noonday
They tempted me
To the Nation of Poetry
What for: to demonstrate that this is a country with freedom democrary, and human
they said,
‘Hurry up!
Other wise
the opportunity is lost,
because foreign countries have known the whole truth’
At that time I was coerced into a gratuitous room search.
Now there is a directive Decree: whether living on the curbs or living on and off by
You must believe that you are living in a Nation of Poetry
must know that you are poets
Or very susceptible to the danger of becoming poets…

No way of denial, even in silence:
I greet the inhabitant
of the Nation of Poetry,
because it is the country of
the lonely, the poor, and the excentric
the busty people, the dirty rich, and the inhuman…

Do you want to arrive at our Nation of Poetry?
If you bear another nationality
You could not get a visa of entry
except —
you are truly a poet
or at least, are blamed, calumnied, forced, designated... as a poet.
In the Nation of Poetry, all is a Very Poetical.
/// Source ///
 Born in 1978 in Khúc Lũy village of Quang Nam province, Lý Đợi currently lives with his wife and two daughters in Saigon, Vietnam. He holds a bachelor degree in literature and journalism (2001) and has published five poetry collections. In June 2005, he performed his poetry at the Goethe Institute in Hanoi with Bùi Chát and Khúc Duy but was met with resistance from the local authorities. In August 2007, he was the first artist from Vietnam to be invited to attend documenta 12 in Kassel, Germany. In October 2007, he co-curated the exhibition We Each Put Forward a Proposal with Lê Quý Anh Hào in Saigon. Lý Đợi's poetry has been translated into English, French, Spanish, German, Romanian and Czech. In 2015, an English translation of a group of his poems entitled Poetics of Resistance by Kelly Morse and Nga L.H. Nguyen won the Gabo Prize for Literature in Translation & Multi-Lingual Texts. In research, Lý Đợi has published three books on the subject of Saigon and completed two books on the Vietnamese art market (forthcoming). Active in the independent publishing scene, he is working at the Scrap Paper Publishing House  (of which Bùi Chát is the Editor in Chief), winner of the 2011 IPA Freedom to Publish Award. (Photo credit: Nguyen A)
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