Literary work by poet Nguyen Du released as art book

One of the most famous poems by great 18th-century Vietnamese poet Nguyen Du (1766-1820) has been released by the Kim Dong Publishing House in the form of an art book.

A new publication to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the publishing house, the poem Ky Mong (The Diary of a Dream) has been illustrated with poetic lacquer-like paintings by Gen Z painter Niayu.

The verses were composed after the poet, in his dream, reunited with his wife, who passed away three years earlier. His sorrow of being apart from his beloved wife and other inner emotions are eloquently presented throughout the poem.

However, according to literary critics, the verses not only reflect his own emotion and sorrow but the problems and anxieties of society at the time.

Painter Niayu, born in 1997, does not claim she fully understands the great poet.  

"In the persistent flow of the Vietnamese literature, his poetry has overcome the barriers of time to conquer all generations. His verses always touch my heart. And when I draw, I let myself be driven by that deep emotion. I feel I haven't painted the characters in his poetry but his soul. With whatever I have created, that is my feeling for the nation's cultural figure and his poetry," she said.

The 25-year-old painter, whose real name is Tran My Ngoc, was born in the southern province of An Giang and graduated from the HCM City University of Architecture, majoring in Graphic Design.

Despite her claim that she does not completely understand the poet and his poetry, the Kim Dong Publishing House disagrees.

"Niayu definitely has a certain understanding and feeling of what she has been reading, thus can produce such very poetic yet romantic paintings which completely match with the verses," Vo Thien Huong, who is in charge of the publisher's communication, said at the book launch on June 12 in HCM City.

Niayu said she felt great pressure when she needed to present the work in a fresh and creative way while preserving the original spirit of the poem.

"The paintings need to reflect Oriental culture but also have their own distinctive features so as not to be confused with other painters' works," she said.

She says that her drawings have been influenced by the paintings of the famous Vietnamese painter Le Pho, as well as Vietnamese traditional lacquer paintings.

Le Minh Quoc, Chairman of the Vietnam Writers' Association, said that he appreciated Niayu as she chose traditional lacquer as a material for her paintings in the book.

"The medium totally suits the verse of great poet Nguyen Du," he said.

Poet Nguyen Du was recognised as a world-famous personality by UNESCO at its 37th General Assembly in Paris in 2013.

His literary masterpiece Truyen Kieu (The Tale of Kieu) is regarded as the most significant literary classic of Vietnam. The masterpiece has been translated into more than 20 languages and is cherished for its creativity, independent thinking and distillation of Vietnamese culture.

On June 17 night, a special concert inspired by his literary masterpiece will be held at Manzi Art Space in Hanoi.

Titled Moments in The Tale of Kieu, the concert is part of conductor Do Kien Cuong's composition-performance project inspired by Truyen Kieu.

Featuring outstanding musicians and artists in Vietnam, the concert offers an exciting venture blending modern and traditional perspectives into a fresh adaption of the epic tragedy.

Artists participating in the concert include cellists Nguyen Chanh and Mai Pham, violinist Thuy Tran, pianist Lavender, guitarist Coco, drummer Zin Nguyen, percussionist Bill Mukang, and vocalist Dattie. Xam (blind busker's singing) singer Thu Phuong will also perform.

The concert will start at 8pm at Manzi Art Space, 14 Phan Huy Ich street, Ba Dinh district.

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