Friday, June 29, 2007

Ly Hoang Ly Performance

The visual artist, performance artist, and poet, Ly Hoang Ly, daughter of the great poet and translator Hoang Hung, is one of 10 contemporary Vietnamese women artists who have art works in a exhibition tour, "Changing Identity," that will be touring the U.S. for the next two years. On July 11th at 7:00 pm, the exhibition will open at Mills College Art Museum, Oakland, CA, and Ly Hoang Ly will present her work along with curator Nora Taylor.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Air Car

There have been a number of news stories recently about the prospects of a hydrogen-driven car. The only by-product of hydrogen is water, which is non-polluting. However, hydrogen is difficult to store in the car's tank, requires very heavy tanks, and is also highly explosive. So if the car gets into an accident . . .

Apparently the hydrogen car concept is being promoted by the car manufacturers and big oil, to convince us to stick with the current technology. Because, guess what, better solutions, better even than the electric car, already exist. Take a look at the following excerpts from an MSN Network story of today by Larry Hall:

"In 2000, there was much ado about a new zero-pollution vehicle from French inventor and Formula One engine builder, Guy Nègre. His company, Motor Development International (MDI), rolled out an urban-sized car, taxi, pickup and van that were powered by an air engine.
Instead of those tiny, tiny explosions of gasoline and oxygen pushing the pistons up and down, like in a normal internal combustion engine, the all-aluminum four-cylinder air engine used compressed air for the job.

"A hybrid version, using a small gasoline engine to power an onboard compressor for a constant supply of compressed air, is claimed to be able to travel from Los Angeles to New York on just one tank of gas.

"Tata Motors, India's largest automobile company, has signed an agreement with MDI to produce the car. About 6,000 air cars will begin hitting Indian streets in August 2008, with hybrid versions scheduled for 2009.

"A South Korean company, Energine Corporation, also touts its air hybrid car called the Pneumatic Electrical Hybrid Vehicle (PHEV). Like the MDI vehicle, compressed air drives the pistons, which turn the vehicle's wheels. The air is compressed using a small motor, powered by a 48-volt battery, which powers both the air compressor and an electric motor.

"The compressed air is used when the car needs a lot of energy such as starting up from a stop and acceleration. The electric motor kicks in once the car has gained normal cruising speed."
Better yet, with such technology, the U. S. won't have to invade other countries to grab their air. We already have plenty of our own. With no wars to fight, our economy would take on its natural proportions, which is largely agricultural--producing lots of cheap, quality food on the land that hasn't yet been flooded or burned by global warming's new weather. And the violence of our cultural products, like the Die Hard movies, would seem strangely irrelevant. And the Mom and Pop stores would return to neighborhood street corners, as Walmart and other box stores go quickly out of business. And every baseball stadium would look just like Wrigley Field. And, as if awakened from a long, sad dream, our children would put down their video games and go outside to play in the sun.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Cipher Journal

Some poems by Nhat Le, Thanh Thao, Hoang Hung, and Nguyen Do can be read in translation on Cipher Journal, edited by Lucas Klein. The website is You can find the works by scanning the contents page. All of the poems on the site will appear in the forthcoming anthology, Black Dog, Black Night: An Anthology of Contemporary Vietnamese Poetry (Milkweed Editions, 2008), edited and translated by Nguyen Do and me. You can find work by nine of the 21 poets included in New American Writing 23 (2005), website

Here's a poem by Hoang Hung, one of Vietnam's leading poets of the "outside," meaning not holding membership in the Writers Association. During a period of Soviet-influenced censorship in the late 1970s, he was imprisoned for three and a half years on the suspicion that he had possessed an outlawed poetry manuscript of Hoang Cam, who himself had suffered exclusion in the mid-1950s. Hoang Cam's offense was having requested freedom of expression in the arts. Along with other poets in our anthology such as Tran Dan and the wildly innovative Dang Dinh Hung, he was dropped from Writers Association membership and not allowed to publish his work for over 30 years. Hoang Hung is also a major translator of U. S. poetry into Vietnamese. "A Man Returning Home" is about his own return to his home from prison (that).

A Man Returning Home

He is home from that
His wife cries all night, his kids are confused all day
Home from that
when he walks through the door, his friends' faces are ashen
Home from that
he feels an itch on the back of hi head
in the midst of a crowd
as if someone is watching

One year late, he suddenly chokes during a party
Two years later, he still sweats from his nightmares
Three years later, he still feels pity for a lizard
Years later, he still has the habit of sitting alone in darkness

Some days, he feels a stranger's penetrating stare
Some nights, an aimless voice asks questions
He jumps
at a touch to his shoulder

Here are the opening lines from a section of Dang Dinh Hung's long work, "The New Horizon":

I'm leaving again . . .
on the tray of my back's shadow, a blackboard in from of my eyes and a chalk circle
beneath my feet, which is sticky like the number 8 lying down, like a
smooth magnet,
like a rice grain that will grow into who knows what.

I will know the endlessness of Epicure's crotch, who's fat and
naked, while around him,
loudly dancing, are blue and yellow poker cards on which
praying mantises land then jump randomly!

joyfully ride around on the backs of cards stiff as the Karma
would have them!

I don't know,
maybe I should include the dry cracks in jackfruit
I was looking for in back of a mirror, noting there
but pain from all the small, trivial acts of my life,
slurping bowl and bowl of insipidness and softness
but so happily . . .