Poet Breaks into British Embassy

Nguyen Chi Thien

Nguyen Chi Thien
Nguyen Chi Thien by Jon Hill
Police were waiting when he came out and no one could find him for two years. A young man who came along that day in 1979 vanished.

But Nguyen Chi Thien lived to tell the story of his torturers confronting him with a book of poems smuggled out by the British and published abroad. Prove you wrote these, they said.

He recited his oeuvre as the guards checked the text. He had composed thousands of lines in his head over fifteen years’ imprisonment as a poet in the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam.

Nguyen Chi Thien by Jean Libby
After defeating Saigon they had let him out to make room for new prisoners. He was expected to die without the bother of an execution.

Instead he hid in an attic in Ha Noi to write down his life’s work in time to sneak the manuscript into the French embassy during their 14 July party. But he couldn’t get in.

So two days later he burst into the British embassy. Read all about it in Jon Hill’s comic, at Thien’s Wikivietlit entry, and Thien’s own English account of his life.

Read his poems in Nguyen Ngoc Bich’s translation. For a bound copy of Jon’s comic make a donation in any amount.

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