Grazie all’intervistatrice, la giornalista e scrittrice Kieu Bich Hau. Sotto le foto l’intervista in inglese.
Interview Poet Laura Garavaglia
- Dear poet Laura Garavaglia, you have been to Vietnam to participate in the 3rd International Poetry Festival in 2019, would you like to write us your feelings and thoughts after your first working visit to Vietnam?
Vietnam has been a dream for me since I was young. At that time I was student at University in Milan and the terrible events of Vietnamese War were for us reason of support to Vietnamese people against foreign intrusions. Last year, when I was invited to the 3rd International Poetry Festival in Hanoi, it was for me to realize the dream to visit your Country. In my imagination, Vietnam was a country rich in natural beauty and mainly agricultural economy. In part, what I thought was confirmed. Nevertheless I knew a Country rich in history and culture, with many young people, a Country projected towards the future. I was fascinated by the dance, the music, the wonderful performances belonging your culture and history.I was fascinated by Ha Long Bay, one of the most impressive landscape I have never seen in the world. Vietnamese people is really kind and friendly. I have a high regard for your people.
- What makes you invest your valuable time and effort to translate Vietnamese poetry, and cooperate with the publisher I Quardeni del Bardo by Stefano Donno to publish 2 volumes of Vietnamese poems in Italy in 2020?
Unfortunately in Italy Vietnamese literature is not very known. When I heard the Vietnamese poets read their poems, I realize the variety of tones and styles of your poetry. To hear your language is like hear a song, to understand the meaning of your poems in English translation is to understand your feelings for nature, love for your Country and your traditions. So, I suggested to Stefano Donno, the publisher of I Quaderni del Bardo, to translate and publish the anthology of Vietnamese poetry Carrying the Mountain and the River on Our Shoulders you gave me as a great gift when I was in Hanoi. He agree to do it, he was enthusiastic. So I asked to my dear friend Professor of English Language at Bergamo University and good translator, to translate the poems of anthology. After the publication of it, I suggest Stefano Donno to start a collaboration with Vietnamese Writers Association and publish the book of poems of the writer, poetess and journalist Kieu Bich Hau. The President Huu Thinh made a video and sent me a letter that really touched me for his feelings about Italy and so will start our wonderful collaboration.
- What do you comment on these two volumes of Vietnamese poems?
The anthology Carrying the Mountain and the River on Our Shoulders has been a great successful in Italy because it is the first anthology of Vietnamese poets translated in Italy and had also a review by the literary critic Roberto Galaverni on Corriere della Sera, the most important newspaper of Italy. On my preface I wrote that the importance of this book is both the quality of the poems and the “choral singing” giving a cross-section of a very important period Vietnamese history. I knew Kieu Bich Hau in Hanoi at your beautiful Festival. She was very kind with all the poets invited, she interviewed me. I was really interested to translated from English her poems to know a poetry voice of a Vietnamese woman, writer and poetess to represent the women writers and poets of Vietnam and let Italian readers to know her book. Her love poems are really interesting, because they tell her feelings, but also are a way to assert herself like a woman in literary field.
- Could you tell us about the history of the La Casa della Poesia di Como and the International Poetry Festival Europa in versi? What achievements has this event won over the years?
The no profit cultural association La Casa della Poesia di Como (ww.lacasadellapoesiadicomo.com) was born in 2010. Our purpose is to spread Italian and foreign poetry among people. Poetry is a bridge among people: it has to be a message of peace over any difference in races, religion, culture, gender, etc. During ten years we have been organized poetry reding with music, launching of books, creative workshops, performances, poetry slam, to link poetry to different form of art. From 2011 we have been organize the International Poetry Festival “Europa in versi” an event that had a great successful since its first edition. In nine years (because of the pandemic Covid19 , as you know, the 10th edition will be on line) we hosted more than a hundred poets from all over the world. Every year we give a title to the Festival, related to a topical or cultural theme. This year the theme is “Freedom”: we feel a lack of freedom during the lockdown! We work for month at the event , involving the student of Insubria University , of Secondary Schools of Como which translate the poems of the authors invited and create music, videos, drawing, etc. on the verses of the poets. So, we have a great reading of poets where many people take part, but also we give to the students the possibility to show their wonderful works to the poets, to speak with them, asking information about their countries, their literature, art, etc. We also organize for poet a tour of the beautiful city of Como and during the festival we have also the award ceremony of our literary prize Europa in versi.
We had many achivements from the Cultural UE Commissio, from the Italian Ministery of Cultural Heritage, from Regione Lombardia, our Municipality, etc. We also have a collaboration with European Academy of Science, Art and Literature in Paris, with Miahi Eminescu Mondial Academy of Literarture in Craiova (Romania) and I received many Prize as Director of Festival for my work to spread poetry culture.
- In 2020, despite of the Covid-19 pandemic, the International Poetry Festival Europa in versi is still being held, so what is the different between this year event and the usual form of organization in the previous times? How many participants will there be? What does the specific agenda include?
We have to change the way to organize the Festival: poets coming from Vietnam, South Corea, Japan, USA, Uruguay, Colombia, Turkey and many Countries of Europe could not have been able to reach Italy during this pandemic. So, as many other great events in Italy and all over the world during the last months, we have organized the festival on line. On Friday 9 October 15 poets will read one poems dedicated to our beautiful lake, on Saturday 10 October poets from Far East, Middle East, Europe, and America will read their poems in a video and on Sunday 11 October we will have the award of the winner of our poetry prize and the video reading of the student of University and Secondary School of Como. After there will be a video showing the “Grand Tour” of poets and writers of past on Lake of Como. It will be nice to hear the sound of poems in many languages. The video are underlined in Italian. Everyone can watch the program on our web site www.europainveris.org .
6- What do you expect from this year’s International Poetry Festival Europa in versi? What challenges did you and the organizers overcome to keep the event going on?
We are promoting festival on our websites, FB page, Instagram and also through the newspapers. Because it is an online events, I think many people could watch the festival from a lot of Countries. And after the days of Festival, people will watch the program because it will be on Youtube channel La Casa della Poesia di Como. I hope the next year, if this pandemic will finally defeat, we can organize festival in May. We will invite poets from Italy and Countries of Europe and we hope we can invite as before poets from the other Continents. For sure we will invite poet Huu Thinh to represent Vietnamese Poetry Association and Kieu Bich Hau, whose book has been translated and published in Italian. If it will no possible, we ask an interview of the poets coming outside Europe to put on line during the Festival. I think this is the only way to organize such kind of international events if the pandemic will not defeat.
- Besides one Vietnamese participant who is invited to the event, will the organizer invite other guests outside of Europe to join the International Poetry Festival Europa in versi 2020?
As I wrote before, we have poets from Japan, South Corea, Turkey, Kurdistan region, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Albania, Macedonia, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Italy, USA, Canada, Colombia, Uruguay…We are interested in poetry of all over the world: there is something similar in the voice of every poets, I mean the feelings expressing which are the same for all human being. T the same time, there is the culture of the Countries from they come from, their language. Poetry festivals are wonderful experiences.
- What is the main message of the International Poetry Festival Europa in versi 2020?
The message of the International Poetry Festival Europa in versi 2020 is focused on freedom, freedom in all its meaning. Nevertheless, the message of every Poetry Festival also organized in many Countries has to be a message of peace and love among people. Poetry is always an act of peace, as the great poet Pablo Neruda wrote.