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In My Ear, Your Voice Still Flickering // Bên tai tôi, giọng người vẫn chờn vờn is a collection of work from twenty Vietnamese writers and artists released as part of the Miami Book Fair, one of America's largest literature festivals.

On Friday, April 29, The Miami Book Fair hosted "From Saigon to Miami: An Evening of Contemporary Vietnamese Literature and Art" to celebrate the release of the three-volume, fully bilingual zineCurated by Saigoneer, the collection aims to provide readers in America and around the world with a glimpse into Vietnam's diverse contemporary poetry, fiction and visual art scenes. The launch event included a video introducing the project with clips provided by several of the included authors. The zine is available for free download at the event page as well as at dozens of physical locations throughout Miami.

Illustration by Brian Hoang to accompany a story by Dạ Ngân in Volume 1 of In My Ear, Your Voice Still Flickering // Bên tai tôi, giọng người vẫn chờn vờn.

In My Ear, Your Voice Still Flickering // Bên tai tôi, giọng người vẫn chờn vờn includes work by authors Phan Nhiên Hạo, Nguyễn Phan Quế MaiAndrew Lam, Trần Thị NgH, Nhã Thuyên, Khải Đơn, Dao Strom, Quyên Nguyễn-Hoàng, Thu Uyên, Linh San and Dạ Ngân and artists Phương Thảo, Mình là Đỗ, Brian Hoang, Linh Dương, Trà Nhữ, Tri Ròm, Bu, Minh Phương and An Hồ.

In an effort to offer a broad view of contemporary Vietnamese literature, authors from different generations, backgrounds, styles and interests were selected. Some pieces were originally written in Vietnamese while others were penned in English. Represented writers come from all across Vietnam and some have moved outside of the country. For the visual pieces, the selected artists created original paintings, illustrations, designs and photographs inspired by one of the stories or poems. 

Founded in 1984, the Miami Book Fair brings authors that span genres and backgrounds to Miami every fall for a week of readings, discussions and events. Throughout the rest of the year, the Miami Book Fair hosts reading, writing and literacy programs with an emphasis on embracing the city's ethnically diverse audiences. One such initiative is The Big Read, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, which recommends books that community organizations can plan conversations and programs around. This year, one of the Big Read selections was Thi Bui's graphic novel, The Best We Could Do, which inspired the Miami Book Fair to collaborate with Saigoneer for In My Ear, Your Voice Still Flickering // Bên tai tôi, giọng người vẫn chờn vờn.

Check out a poem by Phan Nhiên Hạo, translated by Hai-Dang Phan, with an accompanying painting by Tri Ròm from the zine below.

Painting by Tri Ròm from Volume 1 of In My Ear, Your Voice Still Flickering // Bên tai tôi, giọng người vẫn chờn vờn.

 

A Guitarist in Exile

 

This guitarist stretches his strings
from one time zone to another,
from the silt beds of the Mekong River
to the fields of the Midwest.
The sky where he now lives is often cloudy,
the cows slaughter-ready.
 

His songs are about love,
the smell of a road after a tropical storm.
He sings of exile, blizzards,
and empty parking lots.
His past is like a street musician
faking blindness. His present
is like a hot air balloon
aloft and waiting to fall back to the earth.
His future is just a TV
in a nursing home losing its signal. 

He has nothing but music
in this hard-of-hearing world.
And this makes him feel as useless
as those times during Sunday blackouts
he would lie in a tiny room
on Nguyen Tri Phuong Street naked
and fanning himself
in Saigon during the 1980s.

Download the full zine project here.

[Top image uses illustrations (from left to right) by Minh Phương, An Hồ, and Phương Thảo]

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