Written by Zelda Rudzitsky. Photos by Lee Starnes
Saigoneer, Published on Tuesday, 09 August 2016 15:12
Born in the oldest Cham village in Vietnam, poet and literary critic Inrasara has been keeping Cham literature alive for over 30 years. From textbooks to poetry, literary criticism to publishing, the accomplished literary jack-of-all-trades discusses the preservation of his culture, the challenge that launched his impressive career and the state of contemporary Vietnamese poetry today.
Within the world of Vietnamese literature, poets from ethnic minorities occupy a special place. While their work is certainly not mainstream, their status as minority citizens affords them a certain freedom: these poets are less compelled to fit in or even follow the standard poetic styles and tropes of Vietnam’s rich and ancient pantheon of national poetry. On the contrary, such poets are often encouraged to talk about their own distinct cultures and languages in an attempt to bridge the economic and cultural gaps between different communities within Vietnam.
It is this space which Cham poet Inrasara has dominated for over three decades. Born in Ninh Thuan province’s Caklaing hamlet, the country’s oldest Cham village, Phu Tram – better known as Inrasara – began writing at age 15. Shortly thereafter, he was selected to assist the provincial government in creating educational books on Cham language. Continue reading

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The Purification Festival in April: Translator’s Introduction

The Purification Festival in April – Lễ Tẩy trần tháng Tư
This collection represents a broad range of Inrasara’s poetic oeuvre to date, tracing his diverse journeys through storytelling, forays into a varying array of narrative modes and transitions through lyric and narrative verse. Like all great storytellers, Inrasara pulls from a wide network of experience, weaving together the past and the present into a tapestry of the personal and collective, blending the real and the mythical. Wandering across history, literature, folklore, song, philosophy, Hinduism, Buddhism, pop culture, myth, war, peace, harvest, community, tradition, dream, language, ritual, epic and the everyday, Inrasara’s poems sing not only the song of the Cham people in modern Vietnam, but also of all human experience – of our imagining of self and of the myriad innermost emotional lives of globalization and modernity. Deeply rooted in his readings of the Cham epics, Inrasara’s verse somehow also resonates with the flowing lines of Whitman and Hughes, a montage of human experience and insight, both singular and universal. Continue reading

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Sách mới: The Purification Festival in April – Lễ Tẩy trần tháng Tư

Song ngữ Việt – Anh
Translated from the Vietnamese by Alec G Schachner
In lần thứ 3
NXB Văn hóa – Văn nghệ, I-2015
208 trang – Khổ 20,5×14,5cm – Giá bìa: 90.000đồng.
Tập thơ in lần thứ 2 song ngữ Việt – Anh, bản tiếng Anh do nhà nghiên cứu Nguyễn Tiến Văn và 6 bạn thơ dịch; nay Lễ Tẩy trần tháng Tư có văn bản tiếng Anh mới, do nghệ sĩ – giảng viên văn học Mỹ dịch.
12-The PFA-new.01
12-The PFA-new.02
Translator’s Introduction Continue reading

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Thơ Inrasara trên Word Magazine, 11-2014

Inrasara, poem 1: “Pilgrimage to the dark of night”; poem 2: “The Riddle of Pauh Catwai” – Translation by Alec Schachner.

The Cham are a people that live as much in present day reality as in self-memory, in tales of the great Champa Kingdom of centuries past and traditions more recent. Inrasara has been working to keep that memory alive, through poems that feature in the upcoming anthology The Purification Festival in April.

Người Cham là dân tộc sống trong thực tại hiện tiền không kém trong kí ức, kí ức về những câu chuyện của vương quốc Champa vinh quang ở những thế kỉ xa xưa và cả truyền thống gần đây. Thông qua những bài thơ đặc trưng của mình được tuyển trong Lễ Tẩy trần tháng Tư, Inrasara đang làm việc cho kí ức ấy hồi sinh và tồn tại. Continue reading

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Inrasara Biography


Full name: Phú Trạm, pen name: Inrasara
[Inra: Cham transliteration of Sanskrit Indra, the god of Thunder; Sara: salt]
20-9-1957: Born in Cham Hamlet of Caklaing – Mĩ Nghiệp, Phước Dân Townt, Ninh Phước District, Ninh Thuận Province, in Central Vietnam
1969: Student of Po-Klong High School, Ninh Thuan Province
1977: Student of University of Pedagogy, Ho Chi Minh City campus
1978: Left university, wandered in Cham villages collecting Cham poems and folk tales; read philosophy books, and composed Cham/Vietnamese poems
1982: Researcher at the Editorial Committee of Cham Textbooks – Ninh Thuận Province
1992: Researcher at the Center For Vietnamese & Southeast Asian Studies, University of Social Sciences & Humanities, Ho Chi Minh City campus
1998: Present: free writer. Cham/Vietnamese poet, Cham/Vietnamese translator, literary critic, and researcher on Cham language and culture.

– Vietnam Writers’ Association
– Association of Vietnamese Folklorists
– Vietnam Ethnic Minorities’ Literature & Arts Association


Sunlight Tower – poems and long poems, Thanh Nien Publisher, Hanoi, 1996
The Birthday of Cactus – Cham and Vietnamese bilingual poems, Van hoa Dan toc Publisher, Hanoi, 1997
Pilgrimage to you – poems, Tre Publisher, Ho Chi Minh City, 1999
The Purification Festival in April – poems and long poems, Hoi Nha Van Publisher, Hanoi, 2002
Inrasara – Poetry for children, poems, Kim Dong Publisher, Hanoi, 2003
The Purification Festival in April – Vietnamese English bilingual poems, Van nghe Publisher, 2005
Sand portrait – novel, Hoi Nha Van Publisher, Hanoi, 2006
Stories told after 40 years and 18 new formalism poems – poems, Hoi Nha Van Publisher, Hanoi, 2006
Not lonely enough for creation – essays and critiques, Van nghe Publisher, Ho Chi Minh City, 2006
Dialogue with the New – essays, Hoi Nha Van Publisher, Hanoi, 2008

Researches on Cham literature and culture
Cham Literature – Concepts, Van hoa Dan toc Publisher, Hanoi, 1994
Cham Folklore – Folk-songs, proverbs & riddles, Van hoa Dan toc Publisher, Hanoi, 1995; Second edition, 2006.
Cham Literature – long poems – collections and researches, Van hoa Dan toc Publisher, Hanoi, 1996; Second edition, Van nghe Publisher, Ho Chi Minh City, 2006.
Cham – Vietnamese Dictionary (co-writer), Khoa học Xã hội Publisher, Hanoi, 1995
Vietnamese – Cham Dictionary (co-writer), Khoa học Xã hội Publisher, Hanoi, 1996
Cham Culture & Society: Researches & dialogues – essays, Văn hóa Dân tộc Publisher, Hanoi, 1999; Second edition, Văn học Publisher, Hanoi, 2003; Third edition, Văn học Publisher, Hanoi, 2008
Self-Learning Cham Language, Van hoa Dan toc Publisher, Hanoi, 2003
Vietnamese – Cham Dictionary for school use (co-writer), Giáo dục Publisher, Hanoi, 2004
Cham Akayet Epics, Khoa học Xã hội Publisher, Hanoi, 2009

Editor-in-chief of the
Tagalau magazine, an annual selection of Cham compositions, collections, and researches (11 volumes to date, 2000-2010)
Book-shelf of Cham Literature, series of 10 volumes, 3 volumes published

Works in the anthology
Literature anthology of ethnic minorities in Vietnam, Van hoc Publisher, Hanoi, 1995
Viet poetry of 20th century, Selection and critiques, Thanh nien, Hanoi, 1999
Vietnam poetry 1975-2000, volume II, Hoi Nha van Publisher, Hanoi, 2000
26 Vietnamese contemporary poets, Tan Thu Publisher, USA, 2002
The poem directions, Writers’ Association in Ho Chi Minh City, 2002
Today’s poetry, (with 13 contemporary poets), Dong Nai Publisher, 2003
Wordbridge – The Magazine of Literature and Literature in Translation, Issue7, Autumn 2005, USA
Blank Verse, An Anthology of Vietnamese New Formalism Poetry, USA, 2006
Australia’s Web Archive – Pandora – Australia 2005-2006
An Anthology of Tienve 1, Australia, 2007

Major awards
– CHCPI, Sorbonne University (France), Cham Literature I, 1995
– Ethnic Literature Committee (Vietnam Writers’ Association), Cham Literature II, 1996
– Vietnam Writers’ Association, Sunlight Tower (poems), 1997 & The Purification Festival in April (poems), 2003
– ASEAN Writers’ Award, The Purification Festival in April (poems), 2005
– Association of Vietnamese Folklorists, for Cham Literature – Long Poems, 2006
– Vietnam Ethnic Minorities’ Literature & Arts Association, for Cham Society & Culture: Researches & Dialogues (essays), 2003
& for Cham Sayings & Proverbs, 2006
– Vietnam Books Award, Cham – Vietnamese Dictionary, 2006
– Phan Chau Trinh Cultural Awards (on Research Ereas), 2009.

Office titles
– Chairperson for Literature Roundtable, Vietnam Writers’ Association, 2006
– Member of Executive Committee of Vietnam Ethnic Minorities’ Literature & Arts Association, head of Theory and criticism section (2005-2010)
– Vice-president of Ethnic Literature department, Vietnam Writers’ Association, term of office 2000-2005 and 2006-2010

Award titles
– Culture Person of the Year, VTV3 National TV Broadcaster, 2005
– Artist of the Year, VTV1 National TV Broadcaster, 2005.
– Medal “For the cause of Vietnamese arts and literature”, Vietnam Union of Science & Technology Associations
– Medal “For the Young Generation”, Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union, 2009
– Member of Poetry Committee of Vietnam Writers’ Association (2010-2015).

Essays on Inrasara
Discover the world of Inrasara’s poetry Art, Le Thi Tuyet Lan & Nguyen Thi Thu Huong, scientific research, University of Social Sciences and Humanities of Ho Chi Minh City, 2008
Inrasara’s Poetry, Tran Xuan Quynh, Ph.D. Essay on Philology, Vietnamese Literature Department, Da Lat University, 2008
The world of Inrasara’s poetry Art, Vo Thi Hanh Thuy, Ph.D. Essay on Philology, Modern Vietnamese Literature Department, Literature Institute, 2008
Inrasara’s Itinerary of renewing Poetry, Le Thi Viet Ha, Ph.D. Essay on Philology, Literature Theory Department, Vinh University, 2009
– And 12 other Graduation essays.

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