Lihn Dinh’s blog entry today on Harriet begins with this observation:
“American readers are familiar with the Vietnam War poetry of Bruce Weigl and Yusef Komunyakaa, etc., some may even have read former NVA Bao Ninh‘s novel, The Sorrows of War, but almost no one has read the war poetry of the South Vietnamese, on whose land much of the fighting took place, but that’s not so unusual, is it? How many know what Iraqi and Afghan poets are writing?”
The truth of this is scalding, of course. But Lihn Dinh goes on to begin a corrective by presenting a few poems by Tran Da Tu, whom he calls “among the best South Vietnamese poets of his generation.”
Readers interested in Iraqi poets could begin their investigations here. There are also a few collections of poems by Iraqis available in English: Saadi Youssef, Dunya Mikhail, and Fadhil Al-Azzawi. There is also an important anthology of Iraqi poets, reviewed here by Adrienne Rich, entitled Iraqi Poetry Today. There must be others, but these are a few that have found their way into my hands.
But the Afghans? Like that “forgotten war,” it seems that their poetry has so far been forgotten by American publishers. Perhaps, for the moment, the novels of Khaled Hosseini will have to do.