Vietnam- A Land of Poetry
(A Glimpse of Asia Pacific  Poetry Festival First)
Biplab Majee
R-19 Dakbungalow Road, Midnapore-721101 (West Bengal)
Ph.94344-16371, email: mbiplab@rediffmail.com


I had never dreamt of going to Vietnam some day. But on 5th November 2011 when writer Geetesh Sharma, Chairperson, Indo-Vietnam Solidarity Committee, Kolkata asked me whether I was interested to go to Vietnam? The very next-day I replied him: Yes. He requested me to send two passport size photos, 5/6 poems and bio-data of mine. I complied his request. Within 10 days I got an invitation letter from the Vietnam Writers' Association, Commission for External Affairs with tentative programme. I was supposed to go Vietnam by Feb.1 to attend Asia Pacific Poetry Festival First in Vietnam and shall have to stay in Ha Noi and Ha Long City from 1 Feb. to 7 Feb. 2012. Ha Long is a beautiful city on the beach of Ha long Bay and Ha Long Bay is declared by UNESCO as a world heritage site because of its natural beauty. Various forms of its mountains, islands and the colour of water and cloud in the sky, rocky islands, caves from a sailing boat or cruise are very interesting way of exploring nature. Before going to Ha Long I visited Ha Long on internet and knew that I was really going to a poetical environment to meet Asia Pacific Poetry Festival. Poets from China, Japan, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, USA, Canada, Australia, Iran, Israel, Philippines, U.K, Hungary, Russia, Mongolia, Laos, Iran, Uzbekistan, Magnolia…came to attend the festival . We were five poets from India---Partha Raha, Arunnava Ghosh from Kolkata, Sukrita Paul Kumar (New Delhi), Mamta G. Sagar (Bangalore) and myself from Medinipur (West Bengal)

On Feb. 1, we the 81 Poets from 27 countries flew from the different routes of the sky to Ha Noi at Noi Bai Airport and from Ha Noi to Ha Long, we went 160 km by bus or by car on a national highway. On the way we saw how Vietnam using globalization is renovating (Doi-Moi) itself.

Poet Huu Thinh, President of Vietnam Writers' Association, Madam Dao Kim Hoa, Deputy Director Commission for External Affairs and Poet Tran Quang Quy. Deputy Director, Editor in Chief, Publishing House of Vietnam Writers' Association accommodated us in a 4 stars Grand Ha Long Hotel. I was in suite no 820. All suites have the panoramic sea view.

Opening ceremony of Asia Pacific began on Feb. 2. It was drizzling and all the Vietnamese believed that it was auspicious for the festival. Dragons were flying in the sky. After flag ceremony we all went to a Mountain area of Ha Long Bay where Incense ceremony took place following all the rituals. The ceremony was marked by dance, music, hymn, speech, poetry reading and flying pigeons and balloons in the sky. At noon, there was discussion on the topics : 'Poetry of Asia for Peace, Friendship, Cooperation and Development' in the conference hall of Hotel Grand Ha Long. Interesting papers were presented by the poets of different countries. Feb 3, we were in an excursion on Ha Long Bay by cruise. Ha Long is deep and blue. Every time panoramic views are changing and new scenery is appearing. We experienced endless painting and sculptures of nature on Ha Long bay. Evening there was International Poetry reading.
On Feb 4. we came back to Ha Noi by three Luxury buses. On the way we visited Bat Trang-Ceramics Village. At noon we checked in Ho Tay villas from which had also panoramic view of Ho Tay Lake was visible. In the evening there was again International Poetry reading in the Temple of Literature (Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam).

On Feb. 5, we attended the opening ceremony, the Festival on the 10th Vietnamese Poetry Day at Temple of Literature. Thousand of poetry lovers of Ha Noi thronged into the Temple of Literature to listen to the poems of Vietnamese poets and to take autographs from the international poets.

Really, 81 poets from 27 countries we were VVIP guests in Vietnam. Mr Truong Tan Sang, President of Socialist Republic of Vietnam called on us in Presidential Palace. He welcomed us and talked with us on different subjects more than an hour. I shared to talk with him on globalization and he said every country should welcome globalization for information and development, but cultural uniformity will drag history, backwards. Cultural diversities are needed for every country. In the evening we enjoyed performance of Thang Long Water Puppet.

Feb. 6. There was an excursion to a Buddhist centre in Son Tay, located at the outskirt of Ha Noi. Vietnamese regarded this pagoda as a sacred place. Again we read poetry which was followed by speech dance and music. The Head monk was also a poet. He recited Zen poems for us. Here we observed colorful poetry festival with lunch offered by the monk of the pagoda.
In the evening of 6 Feb. we all gathered in closing banquet at 5 stars Daewoo hotel. We got gifts and enjoyed the colorful gala event. Poet Huu Thinh, President of Vietnam Writers Association said good bye to us and decaled the closing of Asia Pacific Poetry Festival First. The dream ended and we all flew back to our respective country.

I exchanged views and poetry books with the poets Ko Un (Nominated for the Nobel Prize in 2011, South Korea), Gao Xing (Deputy Editor in chief. World Literature,China), Suu Cai(Professor, Institute of Foreign. Literature Chinese Academy of Social Science,China), Mo Fei (China), Zhu Yangxin (Professor of Foreign Language Department,China), Wu, Rong Fu (Director of Chinese Language Centre), Masayuki INUI (Professor, French Language Comparative Literature,Japan), Ban'ya Nat Suishi (President, World Haiku Association,Japan), Prof. Dr. Le Thanh Binh (General Director, Dean of Faculty of International Communication & Culture,Vietnam), Professor Anh, Kyoung Hwan (Chosun University, College of Foreign Studies,South Korea), Poet Vu Huyen Van, Poet Pornpen Hantrakool(Thiland), Poet Mariko Nagai (Director, Temple University, Japan), Professor Marjorie Evasco-Pernia (De La Salle University, Philippines)), Poet Sue Blanshard (Canada), Poet Lam Quang My, Poet Le Huy Mau, People's Artist Chu Thuy Quynh, Poet Do Han, Bavykin Oleg (Foreign Relations Department Head, Writers' Union of Russia), Poet Azam Abidov (Uzbekistan), Writer Trung Trung Dinh, Poet Phau Hoang, Journalist Dang Thin Thanh Huong, Phan Thi Ngoc My (Director Private Fine Art Museum, Vietnam), Agus R. Sarjono (Director ii the Intercultural Institute,Indonesia), Poet Sabina Messeg (Israel), Poet Siril Wong (Singapore), Poet Tuyet Nga, Poet Phan Hoang, Poet Mary Croy (USA), Lady Borton (USA) and a galaxy of poets of other countries.

From the forum of Asia Pacitic poetry Festival we, 81 poets of 27 Countries, promised to translate each others' poetry into our respective language to know the poetry of each country. Poet Huu Thinh said in his inaugural speech :

'The world of poetry is vast, refined and magical. We poet must come together often. We need to dedicate worthy attention to the translation and publication of each others' work. We must enable world poetry to arrive at school podiums, and at the most private pathways. With the progress of information, the world has arrived at every home. Why not poetry?

We are happy to be able to live, create and dream in Asia, which is becoming the center of the world.
As poetry has the species power to wake our potential and hidden energies we hope to make a beautiful world in Asia pacific region-this was the message in this international poetry festive.'

Poetry is a cultural asset not only of each nation, but for all of mankind.
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(Published in Kafla Intercontinental - Jan-April 2013)