Nguyen Quoc Chanh

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Nguyễn Quốc Chánh (1958) is a poet and translator.

He was born in Bạc Liêu, and lives in Saigon. The backbone of the underground literary scene, a fearless critic of the government, he is the author of four collections of poems, Đêm mặt trời mọc [Night of the Rising Sun] (1990), Khí hậu đồ vật [Inanimate Weather] (1997), e-book Của căn cước ẩn dụ [Coded Personal Info] (2001) and samizdat Ê, tao đây [Hey, I'm Here] (2005). His poems have been translated into English by Nguyễn Hương and published in New American Writing (no. 26, 2008). Translated by Linh Dinh, he's also included in the journals The Literary Review, Almost Island and Filling Station, and in Of Vietnam: Identities in Dialogue (Palgrave 2001). Along with Phan Nhiên Hạo and Văn Cầm Hải, he's featured in Three Vietnamese Poets (Tinfish 2001), also translated by Linh Dinh. From the introduction to that book:

Chanh's first collection, Đêm mặt trời mọc, came out in 1990 and was greeted by a degree of hostility almost comic in its intensity. In an article titled "The Bizarre in Night Of The Rising Sun," the newspaper Youth compared Chanh's work to "a cemetery of the spirit and of the body. There is nothing left for a person to look for or to lean on. [...] This work can only lead man towards madness, irresponsibility, obliviousness towards the present, humans and objects, the lofty and the abject, the real and the fake, right and wrong, virtues and cruelties are here mixed together in a slimy disgusting gob." In an article titled "An Unhealthy Book," the newspaper The People began by complaining of the "somewhat murky and entirely irrational title." Then it evoked Chanh's poem "Prometheus" to predict that both the poet's life and career will perish in a flame he's "toying with."

In 2005, he gave a reading with Linh Đinh at Berlin's Haus der Kulturen der Welt, as part of its Southeast Asian arts festival.

Linh Dinh started this entry.

Nguyễn Quốc Chánh online

From left to right: Nguyễn Quốc Chánh, Linh Đinh and Phan Nhiên Hạo, with Nguyễn Quang Thiều obscured by Nguyễn Thị Minh Thái, in Hanoi, 1999