Tag Archives: Vuong Pham

Between Thistles: Variation #2 by Cindy Keong

It has been exciting to have variations on Between Thistles arrive in my inbox these past few days… so many roads left unexplored in the original that these remixes are discovering. Here is Cindy Keong’s remix to kick start your Friday night.

*****

Between Thistles: A New Junicho
Started: 12 April 2013 – Finished: 30 April 2013
Written between: Ashley Capes, Chloë Callistemon, Cindy Keong, Chris Lynch, Vuong Pham, Trish Reid and Lee-Anne Davie

Link #1 (3 lines) – hokku / shasei

between thistles
the crane’s
Egyptian walk

(Ashley Capes)

*

Link #2 (2 lines) – waki / cultural (literature)

Out! Damn dog
brought the bloody river home!

(John Wainwright)

*

Link #3 (3 lines) – daisan / cultural (film)

a gecko
makes the theatre
more Australian

(Vuong Pham)

*

Link #4 (2 lines) – verse / shasei

recycling at 2:30am
moonlight on bitumen

(Chris Lynch)

*

Link #5 (3 lines) – verse / shasei

possums on the roof
a sudden clap
of thunder

(Cindy Keong)

*

Link #6 (2 lines) – verse / cultural (art)

Van Gogh hears
the light in each stroke

(Lee-Anne Davie)

*

Link #7 (3 lines) – verse / cultural (religion)

winter solitude
the garden angel
frost covered

(Vuong Pham)

*

Link #8 (2 lines) – verse / gendai

the tollway flickers
another promise

(Ashley Capes)

*

Link #9 (3 lines) – verse / gendai

fever sweats
the memory of glaciers
fading…

(Chris Lynch)

*

Link #10 (2 lines) – verse / cultural (politics)

global warming
my GUCCI wallet cracks

(Vuong Pham)

*

Link #11 (3 lines) – verse / cultural (music)

second chord
of the Elgar
snaps my bow

(Chloe Callistemon)

*

Link #12 (2 lines) – ageku / shasei

songs-many tongued-
mend the sun

(Trish Reid)

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under poetry

Brisbane New Voices IV Now Available

The magic that was the launch of Brisbane New Voices IV on Tuesday night is still thrumming in my veins… for those of you who were not able to make it and want to secure yourself one of the few copies remaining, you can now do so via the Another Lost Shark Store. Just click on the cover below…

BNV IV Cover

4 Comments

Filed under poetry & publishing

Brisbane New Voices IV: Mother by Vuong Pham

With one sleep remaining until Brisbane New Voices IV makes its way in to the world, I am excited to give you a ‘first taste’ from Vuong Pham’s micro-collection, Refugee Prayer. Vuong’s work is deeply spiritual and celebrates the strength of the human spirit. Mother is the opening poem from his collection, and it too, sets the tone for the remainder of the work. I think you will find the honesty and sense of hope that drives this poem will resonate with you long after reading…

Last tickets can be purchased for tomorrow night’s launch here.

BNV IV Refugee Prayer

Mother

I know now, as I did in my childhood wonder
that my mother dreamed of a paradise
one unbound by war and exodus.

On the living room carpet we sit
I pluck her grey hairs and ask:
‘Mother, what ever was your passion in life?’
She smiles—that eternal smile
a question suspended in mid-air.
Her neck tilts like a sunflower
too heavy to meet the sky.

Gardening is the reply I expect.
My mind’s eye turns to childhood, to shadows
stirring beneath star fruit trees
rows of cherry tomatoes growing over fences
a call to supper while sleeping
amongst lotus-dotted ponds.

‘Teaching was my passion,’ she says, ‘high school.’
I smile in agreement. And as I do
jigsaw-puzzle pieces of memory
lock together, my past made whole.
‘A literacy teacher,’ I exclaim,
she smiles, remembering with excitement
the moment I arrived home from school
with a certificate of improved literacy.

I continue to pluck her grey hairs
our conversation lingers on
as the soft daylight illuminates us.
I know now, as I did in my childhood wonder
about mother’s youth, before the bloodshed in Saigon.

I picture her driving a yellow scooter
on the road to school, the freedom
of her hair, a glimmering smile; spiriting past
street markets, the soothing aromas
of Pho and lychee tea; that familiar
crescendo of rickshaws, bicycles and scooters;
landscapes of water buffalo, ploughing
the flooded paddies from cloud to cloud; each one
picturesque from her classroom window; and all of which
was the city she will no longer call home.

More grey hairs fall, the past realigns itself and
I know now, as I did in my childhood wonder
that the teaching legacy passed down to me—
I knew the responsibilities of providing
for her children outweighed
university-degree teaching aspirations.
That in mind, I tell her:
‘Mother, this week I taught my students Wordsworth
saw thousands of daffodils and thought of you.’
She smiles and I’m taken back to a halcyon-time
in childhood that reminds how she stitched floral
pyjamas, tablecloths, bedsheets together
using a sewing machine for less than $5 an hour
to afford rice, pork, Asian vegetables
and help pay for my tuition
so I could learn to spell ‘persistent’ correctly—
praying that I might speak an unbroken English tongue
and never be confined
to the labours of factories.

I know now, as I did in my childhood wonder
what it must’ve been to mother, there
among the refugee boat’s thrum, the faces
of Saigon watching—eyeballs ribboned with flames
incandescent, a disorder of diaspora animate
in the missile storm.

The homeland was a mist, the cerulean
depths of sea stirred on the horizon like some agitated womb
boats wet as one long vowel, as the city crumbled
and my mother among them fled
with nothing but me, growing inside.

4 Comments

Filed under events & opportunities, poetry & publishing

Brisbane New Voices IV: an interview with Vuong Pham

Brisbane New Voices IV is ready to launch at Riverbend Books on Tuesday April 23 (Buy tickets here), so over the next fortnight, I will be posting interviews with Vuong Pham and Trudie Murrell as well as sample poems from their featured micro-collections – Refugee Prayer and Women and Cars.

So let’s kick things off with a recent interview I did with Vuong Pham.

BNV IV Refugee Prayer

Brisbane New Voices IV, featuring your micro-collection, Refugee Prayer is about to be launched at Riverbend Books. When did you first become serious about publishing your work?

That would be three years ago when I first attended a poetry workshop facilitated by you, Graham. Learning about unlocking my poetic voice and networking with other poets gave me the motivation to persist with my poetry in getting published, first in literary journals; then in literary competitions, which were the building blocks to eventually lead to my first book, Refugee Prayer.

Refugee Prayer seems deeply personal collection. What are the events/happenings/aspects of your life that have made you the poet you are?

I’d say my family has had a huge impact on the type of poet I have become today. My family were refugees that came to Australia with empty-pockets, so they worked hard to establish stability. That persistence and drive to work hard at what one is passionate about in life has been instilled in me from an early age. The practices with which I go about writing poetry you could say are born from reading a lot of poetry to stimulate ideas, and then once the ideas are dappled on the page, I usually go through an ongoing process of editing and re-editing until I’m satisfied. I’m very rigorous with how I want my poems to end up; I remember I spent 6 months just editing one piece until I was finally happy with it.

Also, I’ve always loved English, History and The Arts as subjects throughout my education. I think a major reason why this was so, is because in these sort of subjects, critical and creative thinking is encouraged, as opposed to a subject like Maths, that ask for a more concrete answer. So I’ve stuck with it, and have harnessed my imagination in the form of poetry and the eventual book, Refugee Prayer, for everyone to take in. I remember after school, Mum used to always make us (sister, brother and myself) do English and Math drills, I excelled in English, but found myself labouring in Math.

I was raised in a Catholic family, and have learnt and appreciate the value of God in my life and my poetry. Simple things like praying before a meal to thank God, or even encouraging others in their lives of faith are things that I hold very dear to my heart. God calls me to a life of love, forgiveness and service to others. I am poet who writes to inspire and encourage others, it is my calling, and I have found a restored identity through Him.

Who are the poets that you return to; the one’s that continue to have a profound influence on you and your work?

The great poets, Basho and Wordsworth will always have a special place in my art. For readers who aren’t aware of these poets, they often captured peaceful and evocative moments in nature. Example:

summer grasses
all that remains
of soldier’s dreams

…in three short lines, Basho turned a famous battlefield into a reflection on human vanity.

For Wordsworth, the poem, “I wandered lonely as a cloud” will always fascinate me through its depiction of nature’s beauty. The joy, serenity and solitude Wordsworth captured in that poem fills me with inner peace. Example:

I wandered lonely as a cloud
that floats on high over vales and hills,
when all at once I saw a crowd,
a host of golden daffodils;
beside the lake, beneath the trees,
fluttering and dancing in the breeze…

The moment I read the first stanza I am teleported to that rich, peaceful moment in nature, “which is the bliss of solitude”.

It would be a fair comment to say that I’m a quiet, peaceful poet which reflects the poetry I get inspiration from; I wouldn’t find myself returning to poets that write with a theme of darkness and destruction, though I’m grateful to have experimented and experienced that kind of art to know what not to return to!

What do you hope readers will take away from Refugee Prayer?

I hope readers will come to know Christ through my writing. The book is a story of my family as refugees, the signposts of God’s grace is weaved throughout. If there’s anything you could compare “Refugee Prayer” with in terms of similarity, there’s books like “The Life Of Pi” by Yann Martel or even “The Happiest Refugee” by Anh Do. As I said before, I have found a new identity through Christ, and accept Him as my saviour. Back three years ago, I was living life through my own strength; darkness and angst was a predominant theme in my poetry/life. Ever since I’ve called upon God to enter into my life again, I have found new hope. My life and poetry has become much more abundant and fruitful as a growing Christian. I encourage others to take from the light, and produce art that will shine truth in all its glory.

And looking to the future… what’s next for Vuong Pham?

That’s a good question. It’s a busy time in my life at the moment with many projects in the process of development. I’ll be involved with and have had constructive discussions with project leader, “Mark My Words”, a Christian arts initiative. My involvement with this initiative will be a stepping-stone to a project I have on the running at the moment, called “Steeples”. The project, “Steeples” is aiming to be a publication for Christian writers and artists to submit their works to get published in the form of print and online. That will be functioning hopefully around the start of next year.

I have pretty much finished my second book, which will be a Christian themed book of poems, 10,000 words in length. I’ll be submitting the manuscript into the Young Australian Christian Writers Award 2013. It’s looking good, and I’m really happy with it.

I also have the interest of a respected U.K. haiku publisher, so a book of haiku is expected to be in the making soon as well.

In terms of my teaching career? I’m happy to keep doing Supply Work for now, as it gives me an opportunity to spend more time on the projects I’m working towards. But, once all of my projects are up and established, I would soon be on the lookout for a permanent job teaching English/History/The Arts.

*****

Vuong PhamVuong 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 Vuong’s hobbies include reading and writing poetry, playing soccer and practising piano. Vuong is currently working on his second book, which will consist of haiku. He blogs at Verses of the Inner Self.

3 Comments

Filed under discussions, events & opportunities, poetry & publishing

Autumn Sunset (part II): an Autumn Kasen Renga

turn of the tide
the mainsail catches
a fresh wind                                               (ld)

upstream
the tugboat pulls its own weight        (jh)

your iridescence
lures me
ephemera                                                    ( tm)

flashes of noon light in the forest
last of the plum blossoms                     (vp)

summer heat
so brittle
the fresh cut flower                                  (jk)

distant thunder
the hopeful croak of a frog                     (ck)

shortest night
hot in the storm
of your eyes                                                 (jw)

from beneath the rubble
the bloom of forget-me-nots                 (ld)

again
that memory of you
reading me to sleep                                    (jh)

ghost gum and evening star
alone in my back yard                              ( tm)

insects rise up
from the pasture
autumn moon                                               (vp)

the gleam
of a magpie’s beak                                        (jk)

sports carnival
war cries
high as an autumn sky                                (jk)

wrapped in your arms
the air hangs on every breath                 (ck)

from our tree
children
gather fruit                                                       (jw)

early sun                         
a lizard begins its thaw                                (ld)

as the season closes
azaleas open
white, pink, red                                                (jh)

moving forward
you light each lantern from the last       ( tm)

*************************

Started: April 3, 2011
Finished: May 24, 2011

Written between: Cindy Keong, John Wainwright, Lee-Anne Davie, Jonathan Hadwen, Trudie Murrell, Vuong Pham & John Koenig

Leave a comment

Filed under poetry

Autumn Sunset (an Autumn Kasen Renga)

As part of the recent Ginko Series I ran for QLD Writers Centre, I took on the role of sabaki for the group as they took on the job or writing an Autumn Kasen Renga. I am absolutely thrilled with the result and am very proud to share with you the first half of their renga, Autumn Sunset. I will post the second half tomorrow. Please enjoy!

Started: April 3, 2011
Finished: May 24, 2011

Written between: Cindy Keong, John Wainwright, Lee-Anne Davie, Jonathan Hadwen, Trudie Murrell, Vuong Pham & John Koenig

Autumn Sunset

autumn sunset
the glow of one
ripe cherry                                                       (ck)

ANZAC moon chills
the airman before dawn                              (jw)

fly over
swallows leave the sky
to the clouds                                                     (ld)

the rain finds me
I let each drop strike home                        (jh)

sudden chill
winter coat smells
of last year’s mothballs                                ( tm)

mist creeps through
the pines at dusk                                             (vp)

lost again
in the darkness
a mosquito bites                                             (vp)

a searching mouth
tastes the salt on my lips                             (jk)

first light
the morning dissolves
with aspirin and tears                                   (ck)

the percolator warbles
up the coffee                                                     (jw)

your image
painted on canvas
the view that remains                                    (ld)

from the lookout
the seagull stares down the waves           (jh)

moon on the rise
in winter everything
seems closer                                                     ( tm)

dandelions frozen
wind I wish you luck                                     (vp)

first frost
sharpens the senses
fire wood to be cut                                         (jk)

footprints point north
across the paddock                                       (ck)

sun comes
two lilies
propose spring                                                (jw)

new season spawns
a mackerel sky                                                 (ld)

5 Comments

Filed under poetry

New Farm Park Ginko: Lee-Anne Davie & Vuong Pham

                                                                    so lush
                                                                    the grass
                                                                    for late autumn lovers

                                                                                *

                                                                   above me
                                                                   a single red rose
                                                                   against slivers of blue

                                                                                *

                                                                   beside the croquet lawn
                                                                   a homeless man sleeps
                                                                   visitors welcome

                                                                                *

                                                                  in the colour
                                                                  of fallen leaves
                                                                  a crow feather

                                                                               *

                                                                  beneath the gentle sway
                                                                  of late autumn
                                                                  tai chi

                                                                               *

                                                                                poems by Lee-Anne Davie
                                                                                photograph by Cindy Keong

 

                                                                forgive me rose
                                                                she loves me
                                                                she loves me not

                                                                              *

                                                                public toilet
                                                                I am not compelled
                                                                to flush

                                                                             *

                                                               must be growing old–
                                                               polite chatter
                                                               at the wedding party

                                                                            *

                                                               the river has glistened
                                                               long enough
                                                               for the summer house windows

                                                                            *

                                                               fallen
                                                               jacaranda flowers
                                                               we part without regret

                                                                           *

                                                                            poems by Vuong Pham
                                                                            photograph by Cindy Keong

3 Comments

Filed under poetry & publishing