I feel like there has been a major flurry of activity here at Lost Shark HQ… a flurry that will culminate in some stunning releases this year. As you know, I have been working on my own collection, I, Land and Cindy Keong’s collection, Same Sky, well on top of that, I have now finalised the two micro-collections that will be published in Brisbane New Voices IV. This series has become a great passion of mine and has so far showcased some of this city’s finest emerging poets. And vol. IV will be no different, featuring work from two exciting new voices, Trudie Murrell and Vuong Pham.
Brisbane New Voices IV will be launched at Riverbend Books on Tuesday April April 23, so stay tuned for more details closer to the event.
I asked Vuong to have a swing at the Next Big Thing questions and here’s what he had to say:
What is the title of your book?
What genre does your book fall under?
Poetry/ Haiku/ Shape Poem/ Free Verse/ Prose
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Poetry exploring my family’s experiences as refugees during the Vietnam War; as well as poetry glorifying the beauties of the natural world.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
My parents occasionally talk about their experiences as refugees during the Vietnam War. Exodus is a topic of conversation that is quite hush-hush in our family, as I understand that it was a very emotional time for them. But, the rare story pops-up, which I found interesting to try and explore through an artistic medium, hence the book. As for the ‘natural world’ part of the book, these poems seek to offer a sense of rejuvenation and hope to counter the turmoils of war. I really enjoy writing poetry (i.e. haiku) about nature. The first ever poem that inspired me to write poetry was “I wondered lonely as a cloud”, by William Wordsworth. I just loved the serenity and the beauty of nature that Wordsworth captured so expertly in that poem, and to this day, have been hooked on poetry at its most vibrant. I also was inspired by Basho’s ability to stir the reader’s imagination through haiku; I particularly drew inspiration from this one of his:
my house burnt down
now I can better see
the rising moon
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Tricky question. I’ve been writing poetry for 3 years. In that 3-year period, I have managed to write several poems around my family history, and the beauty of nature. They all seemed to fit into place at the end of the 3 years into my own book, ‘Refugee Prayer’, that I am so very proud of. So to answer the question, the manuscript has been 3 years in the making.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My family has been a huge inspiration for this book. For me, writing this book is a way of saying “thank you” to my parents for everything they’ve done, for placing the family in a safe country, for all the sacrifices they’ve made to make me the happy person I am today. Also, I take inspiration from everyday things in my poetry, things like nature, friends, church, teaching, etc that I often place into the form of a haiku or a poem.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Brisbane New Voices will publish my book in April, 2013.
What other works would you compare this book to within your genre?
‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’ by William Wordsworth, ‘my house burnt down…’ by Basho, ‘The Happiest Refugee’ by Anh Do, ‘Found’ by Souvankham Thammavongsa, ‘Forage’ by Rita Wong.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
It contains haiku, a raindrop shape poem, a free verse poem, and prose; so plenty of variety. Also, the book is made from a lot of love and hard, hard work! Piqued yet?
Vuong Pham was born in Brisbane to a hard working family of Vietnamese refugees. He is now a passionate schoolteacher of English and SOSE. His poetry has received awards in the Ipswich Poetry Feast Competition (2011, 2012); the Inspired by Tagore International Writing Competition (2012); and the Free XpresSion Haiku Competition (2012). Vuong identifies as a Christian and enjoys going to a Baptist Church, including Bible Studies groups throughout the week. Some of Vuongs’ hobbies include reading and writing poetry, playing soccer and practicing piano. Vuong is currently working on his second book, which will consist of haiku. He blogs at: http://versesoftheinnerself.blogspot.com.au