- Publisher: Curbstone Press / Northwestern University Press
- Available in: Paperback
- ISBN: 9-781931-896139
- Published: February 1, 2005
More Poems from this Book
See also “Bomb Crater Sky” at poets.org
Translated by Martha Collins and Thuy Dinh
When Edward Hirsch reprinted Lam Thi My Da’s “Garden Fragrance” and “Night Harvest” in his column in The Washington Post, he gave special praise to the simultaneous clarity and complexity of her poetry.
Lam Thi My Da began writing poems during what the Vietnamese call the American War, which she spent near the scene of heavy fighting. While the poems reflect the costs of war, they are grounded in the poet’s own experience and intimately informed by her involvement with her country’s landscape, flora, and fauna. Exploring the events of one woman’s life, including love and motherhood, Lam Thi My Da at the same time questions the secondary status of women in her traditional culture.
Born in 1949 in the south central part of Viet Nam, Lam Thi My Da spent the war in Quang Binh province. Author of five books of poetry in Vietnamese, she is widely recognized one of the Vietnam’s major poets.
Green Rice is the first full collection of poems by a contemporary Vietnamese woman to be translated into English.
A delightful aspect of My Da’s poetry is the surprising way it summons human feeling from the ancient landscape, from river and field, from fruit and fragrant tree, culling a contemporary self from timeless images. In carrying this across into English, My Da could not have found better translators than Thuy Dinh and Martha Collins.” —John Balaban
The poems are both accessible and subtle, evoking a sense of timelessness and renewal that lingers more profoundly than nostalgia, grief, joy or hope.” —Multicultural Review
I am haunted by the knowledge that America went to war against Vietnam without having reading its poets and heard its music. It is a terrible irony that war makes us finally curious about a people and their culture. With such baggage and burden, I come to Green Rice by Lam Thi My Da.” —Maxine Hong Kingston
Last night a bomb exploded on the veranda But sounds of birds sweeten the air this morning I sense the fragrant trees, look in the garden Find two silent clusters of ripe guavas
White circles of conical hats have come out Like the quiet skies of our childhood Like the wings of storks spread in the night White circles evoking the open sky The golds of rice and cluster-bombs blend together Even delayed-fuse bombs bring no fear Our spirits have known many years of war Come, sisters, let us gather the harvest Each of us wears her own small moon Glittering on a carpet of gold rice We are the harvesters of my village Twelve white hats bright in the long night We are not frightened by bullets and bombs in the air Only by dew wetting our lime-scented hair