Something may flower once & die, but that’s
Not the way I understand the world. My own belly
Flowers, glowers under an arboretum of quickening
Sea trees when I feed it miscellanea, mitochondria.
Perhaps I’ve tied it too tightly.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have done this alone.
…a planet, the bearing of it, how much longer will we keep bearing it, every moment paired together, I hear a garbled muffling of human utterance, I hear a calm fading of human utterance, her body’s utterance, my body’s utterance, the voice of cold rain, something utterly heavy, utterly difficult, utterly trembling
…một hành tinh, nỗi ôm mang ấy, mình còn ôm mang thêm được bao lâu, cả khi sánh đôi nhau, tôi nghe mơ hồ tiếng người, tôi nghe lặng vắng tiếng người, tiếng cơ thể nàng, tiếng cơ thể tôi, tiếng nói lạnh hơi mưa, cái gì đó nặng quá chừng, khó quá chừng, run rẩy quá chừng
In September 2016, Tongue editor Colin Cheney had the chance to attend the A-Festival in Vietnam, organized by the editors of AJAR Press. While there, he interviewed the organizers of the festival: Vietnamese poet Nhã Thuyên, and American poet and translator Kaitlin Rees.
This conversation at Blue Bird Nest Coffee in Hanoi ranged from discussions of feminism in Vietnamese literature to how to define “contemporary” poetics to the joys and consequences of a close relationship between poet and translator. We’ll also hear a reading—in their original Vietnamese and as English translation—of two of Nhã Thuyên’s poems currently featured in Issue 4.
a boy dreams of finding treasure, a lonely man looks at his feet stepping on other feet that belong to his own shadow, faint marks of teeth pile on the shoulder of some strange girl who has come into the world before me, and my hand pressed against the mirror, from now on i know
will someone still be waiting for me there, waiting for a lacking feeling, will someone miss me there, missing a feeling of missing, someone to love me always, someone to tumble around my tongue tasting of hot coffee, i can step out and step back in yes, how many times, or i never stepped out, someone turns the fever’s music up across my skin driving me insane and fragile, even the ashes still are crying to be burned once more, once more, once more
Here is a man’s chest inked with water and charcoal tapped into the skin with thorns. Here, look: a small frieze of X’s, another of arrowheads near the meeting of his ribs. And there: tessellations become snakes’ scales, then a wreath of shadows