Urbanist Hanoi

BackArts & Culture » Literature » 'I Wander Alone' and 'Your Shirt Button' by Nguyen Quang Than

'I Wander Alone' and 'Your Shirt Button' by Nguyen Quang Than

"You told me not to look at you, it’s silly / Yet I want to gnaw you the way I gnaw bread ... the pack of ravenous dogs looked at me with night sea eyes / I wish they could gnaw me piece by piece."

The stories and novels of Nguyen Quang Than, a journalist by trade, have won numerous awards. He wrote screenplays and poetry and was married to the novelist Da Ngan. Ngan shared that during their courtship, which was fictionalized in her novel An Insignificant Family, Than wrote her nearly 100 letters. These letters often contained original poems addressed to her that were later published amongst his other writing. Born in 1936, he passed away in March 2017.

With the permission of Da Ngan, we are proud to share two of those poems, translated into English for the first time. They were both written in 1982, a time when the couple was separated: he lived in the north while she resided in the south. Read the English version below.

English translations by Thi Nguyen and Paul Christiansen. The Vietnamese versions of the poems can be found in Nguoi Khat Song, published in 2018.

Related Articles:

- Hanoi Bookshelf: Revisiting 'Dumb Luck' by Vu Trong Phung

- A Radio Program Puts Vietnamese Poetry in the Limelight With Bilingual Readings

- Hanoi Bookshelf: Multitudes Contained in 'Red Thread' by Teresa Mei Chuc

Related Articles

in Literature

'The Song of Kiều' Is the Newest Addition to Penguin Classics Series

Originally written in Nôm script and lục bát (sixth-eighth) verses, Nguyen Du's epic poem Truyện Kiều has always been a quintessential reading for many Vietnamese across generations.

in Literature

3 Vietnamese Authors Honored With Southeast Asian Writers Awards

Nguyen The Quang, Tran Hung and Le Minh Khue were each honored for their work at the Southeast Asian Writers Awards in Bangkok.

in Literature

A Radio Program Puts Vietnamese Poetry in the Limelight With Bilingual Readings

"Lanterns Hanging on the Wind" features 18 poems read in Vietnamese and translated into English that span themes, styles, time periods and locations to give listeners a broad introduction to the natio...

in Literature

Alain de Botton Visits Vietnam: 'What I Want to Argue Is That Romanticism Has Been a Disaster for Love.'

It’s not often that a philosopher of Alain de Botton’s status visits Vietnam, so it was no surprise that all 50 seats on the upper floor of Toong Coworking Space were occupied, with most tickets snapp...

in Literature

Amid Dwindling Readership, Is Digitization the Key to Save Vietnam's Libraries?

Cultivating a reading culture remains a challenging task when local libraries are under-utilized.

in Literature

Hanoi Autumn Book Fair Taking Place This Week

The event will be held from August 22 to 26 at Thong Nhat Park, running from 8am to 10pm every day.

Partner Content