The love for Vietnam of Italian poet Laura Garavaglia, President of the House of Poems in Como, has brought her the idea of translating and publishing Vietnamese poems in Italy.
She also plans to invite Vietnamese poets to the European Poetry Festival, which is held annually in Italy.
|Italian poet Laura Garavaglia|
She granted an interview to Thoi Nay (Present Times) publication of Nhan Dan (People) Newspaper to talk about her impressions on Vietnam and what she has done to popularise poetry to wider audience.
You came to Vietnam to participate in the third International Poetry Festival in Hanoi in 2019, can you share with us about your feelings and thoughts after your first working visit to our country?
Poet Laura Garavaglia: Visiting Vietnam has been my dream since I was young. When I was a university student in Milan, information about terrible developments in Vietnamese War let us support to Vietnamese people in their fight against foreign invaders.
Last year, when I was invited to the third International Poetry Festival in Hanoi, it provided an opportunity for me to realise my dream to visit your country. In my imagination, Vietnam is a country with natural beautiful landscape and agriculture-based economy.
After the working trip, I held that Vietnam is also country rich in history and culture, with young population, and people always looking towards the future.
I was fascinated by the dance, the music, the wonderful performances imbued with your culture and history. I was also allured by Ha Long Bay, which is one of the most impressive landscapes I have ever seen in the world. Vietnamese people are really kind and friendly.
What motivated you to spend your time and effort to translate Vietnamese poetry into Italian and publish two collections of Vietnamese poems in Italy in 2020?
Vietnamese literature has not been popular in Italy. When I came to Vietnam and listened to Vietnamese poets reciting their poems, I realised the variety of tones and styles in your poetry. Listening to your language is like listening to a song, the meaning of your poems help me to understand your people’s sentiment for nature and the country as well as your traditions.
Therefore, I suggested to Stefano Donno, Director of the I Quaderni del Bardo Publishing House, that he publish a translation of the Vietnamese poetry collection ‘Song Nui Tren Vai’ (Mountains and Rivers on the Shoulder).
Donno enthusiastically agreed with my idea. I then asked for the help of my friend, a professor of English Language at Bergamo University, to translate the poetry collection. After the first volume of the collection was published in Spring 2020, I encouraged Stefano Donno to form a deeper cooperation with the Vietnamese Writers’ Association (VWA) and publish a poetry collection of Vietnamese writer, poetess and journalist Kieu Bich Hau.
VWA’s President Huu Thinh sent me a video and a letter which really touched me for his feelings about Italy.
Can you brief us about the House of Poems in Como and the International Poetry Festival Europa? What achievements has this event gained over the years?
The House of Poems in Como (La Casa della Poesia di Como at (www.lacasadellapoesiadicomo.com) was established in 2010 as a non-profit cultural association. It aims to spread Italian and foreign poetry among wider readers. Poetry not only acts as a bridge in connecting people but also conveys a message of peace regardless of races, religion, culture, and gender.
Over the past ten years, we have popularised poetry through music events, launching ceremonies of books, creative workshops, performances, and poetry slams, which have been held to bond poetry with other art forms.
Since 2011, we have hosted the European International Poetry Festival ‘Europa in Versi’, which saw great success from its very first edition. Over its nine editions, excluding the online 2020 event due to COVID-19 pandemic, we have welcomed the attendance of more than 100 poets from all over the world.
During this year’s event, which was held online from October 9 to 11, we organised a poetry recital of participating poets. We also provided an opportunity for students to learn about works by guest poets and talk with authors to explore the land, culture and arts of their home countries. We also arranged a tour for participating poets to explore the beautiful city of Como. An award ceremony of our literary prize Europa in Versi was also held on the occasion.
We have received awards from the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities Ministry of Cultural Heritage, as well as prizes from the authorities of the Lombardy region and our city. We have also cooperated with European Academy of Science, Art and Literature in Paris, with Mihai Eminescu Academy of Literature in Craiova (Romania).
I have also personally received many prizes for my efforts to popularise culture and poetry as the Director of the Festival. Nhan Dan
A special exhibition featuring the heritage, development and achievements of Italy opened in Hanoi on May 6.