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Black Stars, a bilingual collection of poems by Ngo Tu Lap, co-translated from the Vietnamese by Martha Collins and the author, was longlisted for the 2014 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation.
A beautifully rendered translation by Vietnamese poet Ngo Tu Lap and acclaimed American poet Martha Collins, Black Stars introduces a man who is both attached to his war-haunted childhood home and deeply conversant with contemporary global life. With poems simultaneously occupying past, present, and future, Black Stars escapes the confines of time and space, suffusing image with memory, abstraction with meaning, and darkness with abundant light. In these masterful translations, the poems sing out with the kind of wisdom that comes to those who have lived through war, traveled far, and seen a great deal.
Ngo Tu Lap has published three collections of poetry in Vietnam, as well as five books of fiction, five books of essays, and many translations from Russian, French, and English. He is currently Dean of the Department of Social Sciences, Humanities, and Economics at the International School (Vietnam National University, Hanoi).
"Reading Ngo Tu Lap's poems, terrible nostalgia wells up in me—nostalgia for a lost time and a far-gone country, nostalgia for people I've loved, and for creatures of forests and rivers. The French called PTSD "nostalgie." I feel gratitude too. War is over. Peace arrives with these beautiful poems."
—Maxine Hong Kingston
"Underlying tensions animate these arresting poems by Ngo Tu Lap, movingly translated by Martha Collins and the author. Coinhabiting past and present, the speaker conflates absence and presence so that ‘On the finger of a woman who died young / A ring still sparkles / In the depths of the black earth.’ Inside this dual perspective, we, as readers, are enriched."
"A light flickers in and among the shadows and darkness we find in Ngo Tu Lap's poetry. This light is ineffable, and yet utterly present. As Lap writes, it is like "the whispered call of a star at the edge of the sky." In these vivid and moving translations, Ngo Tu Lap's poems come to us with the light of his own whispered calls from afar."