I used to dream of a simpler time, a Vietnam of thatch roof huts and banana leaves and lotus flowers. But this Vietnam only exists in my imagination. We must not romanticise a past that never was, or choose only to remember the innocence of our history. Spoiler alert: Nobody’s history is innocent. We must be brave enough to claim it all. People like me, who by today’s standards are referred to as 'people of colour' or 'minority groups', belong to histories which are not only as tremendous, as grand, and as civilised as the Europeans, but as brutal.

Nobody’s history is innocent

I used to dream of a simpler time, a Vietnam of thatch roof huts and banana leaves and lotus flowers. But this Vietnam only exists in my imagination. We must not romanticise a past that never was, or choose only to remember the innocence of our history. Spoiler alert: Nobody’s history is innocent. We must be brave enough to claim it all. People like me, who by today’s standards are referred to as 'people of colour' or 'minority groups', belong to histories which are not only as tremendous, as grand, and as civilised as the Europeans, but as brutal.

What We’re Fighting For: Vietnamese Writers in Conversation

In March 2019, in New York City, a dozen writers of the Vietnamese diaspora gathered together to discuss community, the ghosts in their words, and what they're fighting for with their art.

“MUSE” ~ a poem by Như Quỳnh de Prelle

One morning she wakes up / She wants to eat all the things in the world / Things like cars, trains / clothes, shoes, toilet paper /

30 April 2014, Revisited

And yet: I encounter discomfiting truths here, within and outside of myself. How I have for years longed to come back, felt some piece of me missing for not reckoning with the Vietnam that was left behind, and then to come back and have to admit the ways I still feel I do not belong.
Coloured Aliens by Chi Vu

Coloured Aliens

Chi Vu is a Vietnamese Australian writer and director, and her award-winning works span genres such as the postcolonial gothic, horror and magic-realism. Her most recent work, Coloured Aliens, is a critically acclaimed comedy about an interracial couple navigating their romance in the context of racism. Mai Nguyen, an Asian Australian playwright, soon discovers that 'White Australia' only wants her to write the 'ethnic' play. Her Anglo Australian boyfriend Kevin O'Sullivan is a security guard and ex-spoken word artist on hand to provide support - and advice.

A Water Spring: Ánh-Hoa Thị Nguyễn in Conversation with Vi Khi Nao

I have tried on a few occasions to write “Dear Mẹ” poems, but I do think that since she is still living that it is harder to be as honest and vulnerable. I think I am afraid to ask her the things I need to, I’m not sure why, and maybe it has to do with my lack of fluency in Vietnamese, and the lack of nuanced language one needs for these types of deep and challenging conversations.

Art as Weaponry: Phung Huynh in Conversation with Rocky Rivera

Artist and educator Phung Huynh was introduced to Rocky Rivera’s music when she heard her guest feature in Ruby Ibarra’s song, Us. Moved by the song’s themes about sisterhood, empowerment and transforming the challenges of the immigrant experience, colonialism, and cultural assimilation, Phung played the song over and over again in her car.

Book Review: Mommy Eats Fried Grasshoppers

“Ahhh, giống chúng mình quá,” my mother said when I finished the book. “I don’t eat fried grasshoppers but I understand.” It’s this cross-cultural understanding that Vilayvanh Bender seeks to establish in her children’s book. The wish for parents and children to connect is as ancient as language itself, breaking cultural barriers and generational barriers...

Book Review: Things to Make and Break

Whereas the short story of the 1980s was the province of straight white Americans, Tan is something different: multi-national, sometimes queer, not white. In short, Tan writes into new territory, exciting territory.

diaCRITICS News & Events: March 20, 2019

Socio-cultural, literary, and political news and events relating to Việt Nam and to the Vietnamese diaspora. ■ News from the Diaspora ■ Malaysian Bar chief asks why Vietnamese suspect in Kim Jong Nam murder case was not freed ■ “Tiffany Chung: Vietnam, Past Is Prologue” at the Smithsonian American Art Museum ■ ...

On Remembering: Viet Thanh Nguyen, An-My Lê & Vietnamese American Arts

On February 19, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of San Francisco State University's Third World Liberation Strike, writer Viet Thanh Nguyen and photographer An-My Lê were in conversation about what Vietnamese American art means to their practice.

A Safe Space in Nature: Andrew Nguyen, Environmental Scientist

It's the difference between a legacy of interacting with the natural world through a series of violent acts with the purpose of domination over a space, versus interacting with the natural world as a means of avoiding acts of violence, and trying to reach a safer place. 

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Artist Profile of Rocky Rivera

Rocky’s music is a journey into the spirit of resistance in the form of loud bass, energetic anthems, and subversive takedowns of the status quo.

Vườn Rau Lộc Hưng ~ a story about “Land Use Rights”

An exploration of how a photo contest preserves proof of the Vietnamese communist government’s brutality and manipulation regarding “Land Use Rights” for citizens in Vietnam.

Fantastical Dimensions: Antonius Bui & Their Papercut Art

I often times view paper as a metaphor for history. When I am working on these hand-cut paper sculptures, I actively carve out space for histories that are actively forgotten and erased in this white supremacist nation. The reductive process deconstructs the white canvas, revealing more and more truths with every slice.

“(Re-)membering” April 30th: a submissions call

A submission call for "texture poems" from the Vietnamese diaspora, in commemoration of the 44th anniversary of April 30, 1975. This year on diaCRITICS, we wish to reflect on this day in terms of both the past and the present. We would like to consider “textures” of diasporic experience that have since been gathered, created, collected and re-collected, imagined and re-imagined, since that historic day in 1975.