Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyWhile the recent opening of relations between Vietnam and the U.S. brings a sense of political closure to the Vietnam war, the emotional repercussions have yet to be sutured. This bilingual collection is an extraordinary effort at drawing those seams closer together. By providing a translation of poetry written by Vietnamese soldiers during the war (gleaned from diaries, journals and letters captured by the American military), poet Weigl ( Song of Napalm ) and Thanh T. Nguyen demonstrate the enemy's humanity. And while the work is often sentimental and simplistic in vision, it provides delicate insight into the soldiers who wrote--their loneliness, grief and daily struggles--and how much they were like our own. Consider lines from ``In the Forest at Night'' by Duc Thanh, a far cry from the stereotypic pathos created by the Western media: ``Oh friends, my mother is old. / She waits for me in our village. / Every night she waits to see me return / So she can finally close her eyes.'' Disarmingly sincere, the poems provide a rare, humane point of view on the war. (July)
Library JournalA bilingual edition offering poems from the perspective of soldiers who fought against American military personnel, this breakthrough book offers engaging social commentary on the Vietnam War. The translations are poignant, though several of the poems fall into sentimentality. For instance, examine these lines: ``I am a man from far away./But my heart is full of love./I am faithful to that one word, love,/ Love for the people and love for you.'' But there are poems that are very visual and suggestive: ``Tenth night of the moon/ whose light is bright then dim./Everything waits for the moon/To spread its light to cover North and South.'' This unsettling view of an unsettling war is essential for anyone interested in war literature, especially for its historical significance.-Lenard D. Moore, United Arts Council of Raleigh & Wake Cty., N.C.
John MortBruce Wiegl, perhaps the best poet to emerge from the Vietnam War, has collaborated with Thanh T. Nguyen to draw these few poems from "nineteen miles" of microfilm at the National Archives; the microfilm reflects documents captured by American soldiers. Poetry is highly respected in Vietnamese culture, and so it is not surprising that these soldiers write clearly and sometimes cleverly. They often capture in an image or two a range of emotions; for instance, in "Meeting," a nameless soldier offers his tribute to a woman he passes on a bridge and imagines a life for. Despair overwhelms some soldiers: "I'm sick and I'm tired of this damned life." Others pour their hearts into nature: "In sadness the river ripples." In the end, these soldiers are concerned about the same things as their American counterparts: their lack of sleep and food; how they miss their sweethearts and wives; and their great cause. "Poems from Captured Documents" is often sentimental but just as often genuinely moving; it should have general appeal but is a particularly good purchase for Vietnamese patrons because of the bilingual approach.
- University of Massachusetts Press
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- A bilingual ed
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