Hai-Dang Phan translating Phan Nhiên Hạo from the Vietnamese

click here for the Vietnamese text

click here for the Translator’s Note

The camera pans the face
of a mountain. Artificial light launched
from the cannons of warships
anchored in the gulf of Tourane
makes bats fall from the Palace ceilings
and blood redden the river Huong.

The camera’s position is no accident.
In 1858 it aimed to civilize
this nation by the Seventh Art.
146 years later, we’re still making
serial porn.

Hai-Dang Phan is an MFA student in poetry at the University of Florida. His translations of other poems by Phan Nhiên Hạo appear or are forthcoming in The Brooklyn Rail, Cerise Press, and Drunken Boat.

Phan Nhiên Hạo was born in Kontum, Vietnam in 1967 and immigrated to the U.S. in 1991. He is the author of two collections of poems in Vietnamese, Thiên Đường Chuông Giấy (Paradise of Paper Bells, 1998) and Chế Tạo Thơ Ca 99-04 (Manufacturing Poetry 99-04, 2004). A full-length, bilingual collection of his poetry, entitled Night, Fish, and Charlie Parker, was translated into English by Linh Dinh (Tupelo, 2006). Translations of his poetry have also been featured in the anthology Of Vietnam Identities in Dialogue (Palgrave, 2001) and Three Vietnamese Poets (Tinfish, 2001). He lives in northern Illinois, and edits the online journal litviet.