Poems from Captured Documents: A Bilingual Ed.

Thanh T. Nguyen, Author, Bruce Weigl, Editor
Thanh T. Nguyen, Author, Bruce Weigl, Editor University of Massachusetts Press $20 (80p) ISBN 978-0-87023-921-2
Paperback - 64 pages - 978-0-87023-922-9
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While 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)
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