by aengelson | December 6th, 2011
Last Sunday marked the first installment of Noi Hanoi, a new spoken word series here in Hanoi. I’m one of a group of organizers, and we’re hoping to put on a regular series of literary readings in both Vietnamese and English. It was a rollicking, seat-of-your-pants performance, and over 70 people turned out. Clearly, there’s a demand for literary events in Hanoi. (To see a gallery of pictures from the event, click on any photo in this post or visit this link.)
It was an eclectic mix of readings. Vietnamese poet Bao Chan read some of her lyrical poems in both Vietnamese and English. Jacob read a surreal fable about a Vietnamese pig with giant testicles trying to score some heroin. There were young Vietnamese poets talking about love, and expats evoking the sounds of Hanoi. Kaitlin read about tasting and sharing her heart, while Duc read a selection of poems from French, Vietnamese, and Moroccan writers. Nathan read a drunken online chat (complete with an animated PowerPoint) he’d had with his girlfriend. One teenage Vietnamese poet shared her work in public for the first time.
We broke things up with a little interactive audience participation. Folks were asked to grab several words from a bowl and write a line of poetry in either English or Vietnamese. The results were compiled into a patchwork poem that was fun, if a little bizarre. I was really pleased to see the Vietnamese guests also taking the plunge and creating their own group-sourced poem.
For my part, I read a brief snippet from my novel in progress. It’s a scene I’d written quite a while ago and it describes a jazz night club in Seattle circa 1941. It was a fun piece to read, and I was honored to have a chance to share it. You can read it (in PDF format) here if you’d like.
A big thank you goes out to Canopee Cafe at 60 Hang Trong for hosting. Plus, thanks to Stephanie Wang for designing an amazing poster and photographer Nguyen Duc for taking the photos. And thanks to Kaitlin, Anh, Mai, and Vi for their fantastic organization skills. And judos to all our brave readers!
We’ll keep you posted on when the next Noi Hanoi is happening…