Printed Works: Poetry
Anderson, Doug. The Moon Reflected Fire (Alice James Books, 1994).
Of The Moon Reflected Fire and its subject, the Vietnam War, poet James Tate writes: "These are trenchant, wrenching poems. With artistry and honesty they perform an inquest into war and its corrosive after effects."
Balaban, John. After Our War (University of Pittsburgh, 1974).
The Lamont Poetry Selection for 1974-by this poet best known now for his translations into English of Vietnamese poetry, including the best-selling Spring Essence. Balaban served during the Vietnam War as a conscientious objector, afterwards he went there to preserve the folk poetry.
Berry, D.C. Saigon Cemetry (University of Georgia, 1972).
Berry served as a medical service officer for three years in Vietnam, where he wrote his first book of poetry.
Bly, Robert. The Teeth Mother Naked at Last (City Lights, 1970).
This single long poem against the Vietnam War is among the strongest poems of the era.
Bowen, Kevin. Playing Basketball with the Viet Cong (Curbstone Press)
Kevin Bowen was drafted and served in the U.S. Army in the Vietnam War during 1968-69. He has returned to Vietnam numerous times and currently serves as director of the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences at the University of Massachusetts at Boston.
Bowen, Kevin and Ba Chung Nguyen (Editors). 6 Vietnamese Poets (Curbstone Press, 2001).
This bilingual Vietnamese/English edition brings together for the first time the works of six writers, three men and three women, who came to maturity during the American War in Vietnam. What will you find in this book?--the richness and diversity of Vietnamese life and literature from an array of poems that range from free verse to romantic lyric to traditional classic forms. The book features poets from North and South, combat soldiers, and poet-soldiers writing of life in Vietnam through the last four decades of the 20th century.
Bowen, Kevin, Nguyen Ba Chung, and Bruce Weigl (Editors). Mountain River: Vietnamese Poetry from the Wars, 1948-1993 (University of Massachusetts Press, 1998).
An anthology that attests to the power of art to transform the trauma of war. This powerful and moving bilingual collection affirms the importance of poetry in the formation and perpetuation of Vietnamese national identity. These poems testify to the centrality of war in Vietnamese history and experience over the past 50 years. Beginning with Ho Chi Minh in the 1940s and going up to Nguyen Quang Thieu in the 1990s, the book presents significant poetry reflecting the thoughts and feelings of the major Vietnamese writers, who lived through many years of war, first with the French and later with the Americans. Mountain River will serve as a valuable introductory survey of Vietnamese poetry written since the Second World War and as an example of the integral role of poets and poetry in Vietnamese culture.
Coleman, Horace. In the Grass (Vietnam Generation & Burning Cities Press, 1995).
Horace Coleman's In The Grass is a book of darkness and revelation. Here are poems filled with ammunition that penetrate not flesh but soul. Coleman's memories of Vietnam are not war stories—instead they capture moments when blackness is the battlefield.
Connolly, David. Lost in America (Vietnam Generation, Inc., 1994).
This is a volume of poetry concerning the Vietnam War by a veteran who opposed the war. Connolly is featured in the feature film, Voices in Wartime.
Da, Lam Thi My. Green Rice (Curbstone, 2004).
When Edward Hirsch reprinted Da's "Garden Fragrance" and "Night Harvest" (from Six Vietnamese Poets) in his column in The Washington Post, he gave special praise to the simultaneous clarity and complexity of Da's poetry. Now, for the first time in English, readers can enjoy a full volume of her selected—including love, motherhood, women's issues, and the sometimes—difficult movement into—middle age. Born in 1949 in the south central part of Viet Nam, Lam Thi My Da spent the war in Quang Binh province, near the scene of much heavy fighting. Author of five books of poetry in Vietnamese, she is widely recognized one of the Vietnam's major poets.
Ehrhart, W.D. Beautiful Wreckage: New & Selected Poems (Adastra Press, 1999).
Thirty years of Ehrhart's poetry has been selected from 12 previous collections, along with a section of older poems never before published in earlier books, culminating in a section of two dozen new poems. A hunger for honesty and a charged lyricism have always made Bill Ehrhart's poetry remarkably his own. Though he's best known for his Vietnam War poems, his Beautiful Wreckage: New & Selected Poems includes many lovely poems not about Vietnam. This book deserves serious recognition. (John Balaban)
Ehrhart, W. D. (Editor). Carrying the Darkness: The Poetry of the Vietnam War (Texas Tech University Press, 1989).
Carrying the Darkness is one of the best anthologies of poetry to come out of the Vietnam War. The poets in this collection have given their experiences in Vietnam a vital reality that transcends time and grabs your heart. The bitter pain of war and war's aftermath in Carrying the Darkness is so palpable and persuasive that it's almost unbearable. When you read Carrying the Darkness, you read about war as it really is—and you will never be the same.
Komunyakaa, Yusef. Thieves of Paradise (Wesleyan University Press, 2000).
Pulitzer Prize winner Yusef Komunyakaa delivers a powerful meditation on American, and particularly African-American, life in the wake of Vietnam. In poems overflowing with language, memories of childhood are tinged with memories of war. Drawing on multiple traditions, Komunyakaa's poetry is potent, live, and, like the strains of jazz running through it, an erudite and soulful music.
Komunyakaa, Yusef. Neon Vernacular, New and Selected Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 1993).
Embodies a universal experiences of a black man, a soldier in Vietnam, a child in Bogalusa, Louisiana, and shows deeper ways to be human.
Mahoney, Philip. From Both Sides Now : The Poetry Of The Vietnam War And Its Aftermath (Scribner, 1998).
Chronologically arranged to mirror the progression of the war, From Both Sides Now brings together a wide variety of opposing views, with poetry by American and Vietnamese soldiers, orphans, widows, priests, monks, political figures, and antiwar protesters. In addition to including extraordinary works from well-known poets such as Bruce Weigl, Margaret Atwood, Yusef Komunyakaa, Sharon Olds, Robert Bly, Allen Ginsberg, Grace Paley, Philip Levine, and W. S. Merwin, editor Phillip Mahony has scoured the globe to find amazing and, in some cases, never-before-published poetry by North and South Vietnamese soldiers and poets and the first postwar generation of Vietnamese-Americans.
McDonald, Walter. Caliban in Blue (Texas Tech University Press, 1976).
Most of the poems in this collection relate to the author's experience as a U.S. Air Force pilot in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. "There's a deep pleasure in reading a book of poems that are simply and consistently interesting. McDonald's poems are that, except that 'simply' may not be the right word. They move with complex and contrary forces. And they are informed by experience and perspective rare in a first book." (Miller Williams)
Nguyen, Duy. Translated by Kevin Bowen and Ba Chung Nguyen. Distant Road: Selected Poems (Curbstone Press, 1999).
Widely considered the most important poet of his generation, Duy began his career as a writer on the battlefields of Viet Nam. The power of his highly-crafted poetry stems from its distinct sense of time and place, his unrelenting honesty, and his deep compassion. Born into a peasant family, Duy captures the essence of village life in his poetry. But whether it is love, family, war, present or lost friends, or his own mocking self, his poetry is infused with an understanding of hardship and suffering. Many of his love poems have become classics in Viet Nam.
Nguyen, Thanh T. Translated by Bruce Weigl. Poems from Captured Documents (University of Massachusetts Press, 1994).
Bruce Wiegl, perhaps the best poet to emerge from the Vietnam War, has collaborated with Thanh T. Nguyen to draw these few poems from "nineteen miles" of microfilm at the National Archives; the microfilm reflects documents captured by American soldiers. Poetry is highly respected in Vietnamese culture, and so it is not surprising that these soldiers write clearly and sometimes cleverly. They often capture in an image or two a range of emotions; for instance, in "Meeting," a nameless soldier offers his tribute to a woman he passes on a bridge and imagines a life for. Despair overwhelms some soldiers: "I'm sick and I'm tired of this damned life." Others pour their hearts into nature: "In sadness the river ripples." In the end, these soldiers are concerned about the same things as their American counterparts: their lack of sleep and food; how they miss their sweethearts and wives; and their great cause. Poems from Captured Documents is often sentimental but just as often genuinely moving; it should have general appeal but is a particularly good purchase for Vietnamese patrons because of the bilingual approach. (John Mort)
Ritterbusch, Dale. Far from the Temple of Heaven (Black Moss Press, 2005).
In this evocative book, American poet and Vietnam veteran Dale Rittersbuch turns his attention to war and love, fatherhood and family. Ritterbusch is a veteran of both literal and figurative warfare, and his speakers often embody the desire to bridge that distance, "to go back, reassemble "the disassembled, recall head "to body, the body still warm."
Ritterbusch, Dale. Lessons Learned (Small Press, 1995).
A book of poems about the experience of the Vietnam War that according to one reviewer “will leave you pained, shocked, and numb with knowledge.
Rottmann, Larry; Jan Barry, Jan and Basil T. Paquet (Editors). Winning Hearts and Minds: War Poems by Vietnam Veterans (McGraw Hill, 1972).
This collection contains stunning poems by Vietnam veterans with each depicting the real face of war.
Schuster, Dana (Dusty). Battle Dressing (Writers League Press, 2000).
Battle Dressing traces the emotional journey of a Vietnam nurse. When you first meet Dana Shuster, she's fresh and naive, sounding just like a sorority girl as she wonders, "What do you pack/To take to a war?" Next, she proceeds to fall in love with every mangled, morphined soldier who says something like, "You the first white woman ever touch me." Later, she's harder, aloof, and professional. She's also better at her job. And finally back in the States, she alternatively seems to be apologizing to an uncomprehending home front for the changes inside her—and flaunting them.
Shields, Bill. Human Shrapnel (2 13 61 Publications, 1991).
A collection of poems about the Vietnam War and its postwar reverberations in America.
Thieu, Nguyen Quang. Translated and edited by Martha Collins and Nguyen Quang Thieu. The Women Carry River Water (University of Massachusetts Press, 1997).
A bilingual collection of poems by a celebrated Vietnamese writer. This book is the first English translation of poems by a Vietnamese writer of the post-1975 generation. Author of four books of poetry, four novels, and two short story collections, Nguyen Quang Thieu is considered by many to be the most prominent northern Vietnamese poet to have emerged since the American War, which ended when he was in high school. His book The Insomnia of Fire (1992) won the Writers' Association National Award for poetry, one of Viet Nam's most prestigious literary prizes.
Tran, Barbara. In The Mynah Bird's Own Words (Tupelo Press, 2002).
It is, first and foremost, a genre-blurring work. Through the structure of the individual poems themselves and through the novelistic arc of the collection as a whole, these poems question the divide between prose and poetry. It is also a small, delicately balanced work of art that illuminates the Vietnamese-American experience beyond the frame of the war; a meditation on the bifurcated life of the immigrant/exile. Many of these poems investigate eroticism in the lives of Asian and Asian American women, an element often explored in literature from the perspective of men, but here presented straight from the source.
Weigl, Bruce. Archeology of the Circle: New and Selected Poems (Grove Press, 1999).
These selected poems draws on eight previous volumes of work by a poet renowned for his engagement with the Vietnam War and its aftermath. A soldier during the war, Weigl both directly remembers his experiences in Vietnam during combat and dwells on the way the war impinges on everyday postwar life.
Weigl, Bruce. Sweet Loraine (Triquarterly Books, 1996).
Weigl returns not only to Vietnam but to the Lorain, Ohio, of his youth. In his continued quest for emotional and spiritual enlightenment, Weigl writes about the connections between his childhood in a working-class world and the powerful effects of the American war in Vietnam on all of us.
Weigl, Bruce. Song of Napalm (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1988).
"Bruce Weigl's poetry is a refusal to forget. It is an angry assertion of the youth and life that was spent in Vietnam...." (from the introduction by Robert Stone)