The current issue of the American Arts Quarterly contains “The Colors of Vietnam, ” an article by the poet Frederick Turner about his recent trip to Vietnam where he met with Vietnamese poets and visited the Temple of Literature.
“I am standing with my friends, the poets Tran Nghi Hoang and Nguyen Thuy Kha [a former ARVN Colonel in the American War], in the old stone cloister of the Temple of Literature [above ] in Hanoi, ” Turner begins. “Under the tile roof there is rank on rank of huge stone tablets, each inscribed with the names of past doctorates of Vietnam’s first university, the Imperial Academy. The university was founded by the Emperor Ly Thanh Tong in 1076, twelve years before the founding of the University of Bologna and twenty before that of Oxford University, my own alma mater.”
The Vietnamese, Hoang told Turner, “always put art and poetry and the spirit above war and politics. And for some unaccountable reason the Vietnamese seem to love America. They are well aware that we Americans had to throw off our own colonial oppressors, and are great admirers of George Washington.”
The article includes six poems Turner wrote during the trip.