Linh Đinh (born 1963) is a bilingual poet, fiction writer, essayist and translator, publishing in Vietnamese as Đinh Linh. Born in Saigon, he left Vietnam on April 27, 1975 under the fake name of Lý Ký Kiệt. After living in Washington, Oregon, California and Virginia, he moved to Philadelphia in 1982, where he studied painting at the University of the Arts (at the same time as Phong Bui) … (full long text).
The Video: The Holloway Series in Poetry – also with Linh Dinh, all poets together for 80.41 min, added April 03, 2008 (Linh Dinh from 21.30 – 76.33 min, then answering questions … with a video-patchwork near the end) … Poetry that “raids and reinvents the language with an ardor bordering on delirium” … .
Linh Dinh – Vietnam and USA
Linh Dinh on PEW, fellowships in the arts.
It is said: Among Asian American poets few have risen to heights of Linh Dinh. His poetry is full of disturbance and grace and the work is worth the sit because of the feeling of unease it causes … follows an interview … (chicago postmodern poetry).
His blog Detainees.
He remembers: When I think about the Vietnam war, I remember Hamburger Hill, so called because American soldiers were ground up there in the late 1960s; the battle for Hamburger Hill was one I watched on television as a child. The American guide to Hamburger Hill was CBS newsman, Ed Bradley, best known these days for his recent interview of Michael Jackson. To think about Hamburger Hill not as a battle or as a place (which doubtless has another, Vietnamese, name), rather as the name for a battle, is to think about how language is often used in contemporary poetry to describe suffering … (full long text).
Eight Postcards from Vietnam, Essay.
… In his poem “Earth Cafeteria,” Linh Dinh writes: “To eat stinky food/ is a sign of savagery, humility, / identification with the earth.” The poem quotes Lin Yutang and Mikhail Bakhtin; it ends with lines that suggest the straddling of customs that recent immigrants confront daily, a reality that beautifully complicates U.S. identity, but one which the likes of Hollander do not regard as desirable DNA for poetry. Dinh’s poem ends: “To eat with a three-pronged spear and a knife./ To eat with two wooden sticks./ To eat with the hands. To snack on a tub of roasted grasshoppers at the movies” … (full text, May 8, 2008).
Description of his book Fake House.
He says: … “Recently, I wrote some poems in Vietnamese, but the thing is, I came to English as an immigrant. It was a process to acquire English to the point where I felt confident enough to write in it, and my grasp of English, even now, is somewhat uncertain. Not because I can’t speak or write it, but nothing comes naturally to me. I have to think it through. I’m a hyper-conscious writer. On the other hand, I think it’s an advantage because I have to scrutinize the language much more painstakingly than a native speaker. And paradoxically, my relationship to Vietnamese is just as problematic. When I returned to live in Vietnam five years ago—I lived there from 1999 to 2001—I came back as a Vietnamese-American, with another language that I’m more comfortable with, which is English, so I sort of had to reacquire my Vietnamese. So when I write poems in Vietnamese, I’m just as self-conscious as I am with English. I’ve used my ongoing problems with language, my grappling with it, as a topic also. The two main stories in Blood and Soap deal with acquiring a new language” … (full interview text).
He writes: In April of 1975, I was 11 and ½ and living with my father, brother and paternal grandmother across the street from Saigon’s An Dong Market. My mother divorced my father two years earlier to marry her lover. Her squeeze had been my father’s chauffeur when both were still in the police. A narcotics expert, a real spook, this dude was a 007 who would later punch in and out for the FBI. He was younger, taller, better built and more handsome than my father. He was also attentive and soft-spoken, unlike my father. Perhaps he was also a better lover than my father. More rhythmic, longer lasting, capable of small talks afterwards. Objectively speaking, perhaps this man and my mother were a good match. Arguing with her new husband, she would curse him after receiving a slap: “You chauffeur!” Technically, my father was a lawyer, but about the only thing I ever saw him do was play mahjong in an air-conditioned garret. The water buffalo bone tiles clacked clacked nonstop on the green felt table. He competed with his Chinese friends because he loved the Chinese. “The Chinese are brilliant,” he said. “Like grass, you’ll find them everywhere.” He made my brother and I study Chinese, English and French … (full text).
He says also: “Poets do not show up on the radar in the US. I doubt if any of our current “leaders”-(Bush, Powell, Rumsfield or Rice) can name a single contemporary American poet. In Vietnam, a police state, poets are harassed and monitored. When I lived in Saigon I hung out with all the troublemakers. An acquiescent poet is not worth a pound of shit, in my mind. I brought news and books to my friends in Vietnam, and as a translator, I was a conduit between two literatures (Vietnamese and English), between inside and outside. I felt very useful during my stay and am contemplating a return, if I can get a visa. The attention from the police makes Vietnamese poets feel very important but the truth is the general public pay no attention to them. As with every other country in the world, Vietnam has become a satellite of the USA. People there are learning to appreciate Danielle Steele and Britney Spears. But there are precious messages in cracked bottles riding this tidal wave of scum. You have to take the good with the bad, as they say. I’ve done my small part by translating Eliot’s The Waste Land and poems by Stevens, Dickinson and Creeley” … (full interview text).
Pissed Off Zombies, by Linh Dinh, October 30th, 2007.
All Around What Empties Out, by Linh Dinh: One of the basic principles of architecture deals with the division of space: a structure modulates the flow of air, light, and elements, and in doing so, defines how interior space can function. Lessons in structure are not lost on Linh Dinh, whose first book-length collection, All Around What Empties Out, addresses such concerns in the opening pages: A house with no doors. One enters by climbing through a window. Any window. Break glass if necessary. An entry should always be illicit. Unobstructed entrances are not worth passing through … (full text).
He writes also: I often think about how I would want to die. My own father recently died a slow death of lung disease. He lost control over his own life, and his last year was painful. I don’t want to die that way. It may seem cold-blooded, but here is my fantasy of how I would die if I had my choice. In my fantasy, Pat would die before me. That’s because, when we got married, I promised to love, honor, and take care of her, and if she died first, I would know that I had fulfilled my promise. Also, I have no life insurance to support her, so it would be hard if she outlived me. After Pat died—my fantasy continues—I would turn over the deed of the house to my son Cody, then I would go trout-fishing every day as long as I was physically in condition to do it. When I became no longer capable of fishing, I would get hold of a large supply of morphine and go off a long way into the woods. I would pick some remote place where nobody would ever find my body, and from which I could enjoy an especially beautiful view. I’d lie down facing that view and—take my morphine. That would be the best way to die: dying in the way that I chose, with the last sight I see being a view of Montana as I want to remember it. (as comment on Detainees, March 18, 2008).
Linh Dinh on miporadio dot net, the way poetry sounds.
links: I found no adds around, all is authentically him.