“the ship” and “Nguyen Quoc Chanh” on Asymptote

happy to see some “translatable” fragments of me, a poem (or i called it a short fiction) and an essay on Nguyễn Quốc Chánh in Underground voices project on Asymptote alongside w many cool writings. love and deep thanks to Dave and Kaitlin, for loving Tiếng Việt and for being here with us and keep staying here in this horrible beautiful city and sharing so much in friendship and languages and more.

we all know that’s an unbelievable amount of work went on behind the scenes to make this happen. i never say thank you enough to my translators, for their unconditonal love for my nonsense and working hard for months, and, sorry, with “the difficult person” (oh, she’s a cutie sometime.)


from editor’s note.

This issue’s two politically inflected plays hail from Mexico andRomania (via France). The first concerns itself with society’s outcasts, and the latter takes a satirical approach to journalism. In the Writers on Writers section, Vietnamese poet and critic Nhã Thuyên, who contributes gorgeous poetry to this issue as well, has given us an essay on the poetry (and politics) of Nguyễn Quốc Chánh.

the ship – con tàu

Excerpts from my looooooooooong blah (i will never make that long writing again:) ) The full version of the essay in English will be published on ajar in November.


Nguyễn Quốc Chánh essay in Vietnamese first published on online literary magazine Damau:

The Vietnamese:

The English: will be published on 15 Nov.
the ship | con tàu first published on Damau:
translator’s note: 

“This is a story of one sentence, a long, winding sentence which, rather than ending, simply stops, with an ellipsis to indicate the remaining unwritten something. But, though it is a continuous, ongoing sentence, the story is repeatedly chopped up, both through the use of commas and the sound of the words themselves.

The Vietnamese language is monosyllabic, often producing a staccato effect on the ear. I have tried to reproduce the rhythm of the piece by maintaining the punctuation and mirroring the sharp physicality of certain words and phrases where possible. However, commas and harsh consonants are not enough to accurately portray how the sounds of the piece and its mood are so beautifully entangled in Vietnamese.

This story exists between an “i” and a gender-neutral third-person pronoun often interpreted as, but not necessarily, male. In addition, there is an “ai,” perhaps multiple “ai,” which in Vietnamese can be understood as “someone” or “who.” I have chosen “someone,” but readers could imagine the restlessness of a “who” question lingering inside the word.

To translate this story I have placed myself at the edge of water and developed a deep love for its author.”

– Kaitlin Rees-

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