At an online coffee with the Vietnamese poet, Nguyen Dinh Tam,
“I have not been to Romania, but Romania is beautiful in me. It is a country that values human values, human life and happiness. This is what many countries are aiming for. The color of your flag (blue-yellow-red) has a beautiful meaning symbolizing Freedom – Justice – and Fraternity. You have a rich and diverse culture and nature, many World-listed heritage sites, and a proud literature with the “Nobel Peace” and “Nobel Literature” awards. I have heard about Dracula Castle, the popularity of this castle is associated with Count Dracula, the main character in the novel „Dracula” by writer Bran Stocker…and this place has become a famous tourist destination!”
Ana Magdin: Mr. Nguyen Dinh Tam, how was your childhood?
Nguyen Dinh Tam: My hometown is at the end of the clear blue Lam River where flowing to the sea. The place where I lost my childhood by the too severe part of life, but my soul was nourished from this place. When the afternoon comes, I often put my feet in the wet sand waiting for the boat to come back, far-away distant sails on the horizon, the waves approach gradually licked my feet and then soared into the boundless…I often silenting, ardenting, admiring watch the Da Trang patient roll into balls the dreamy „earths”, and listening to the murmur of the sea waves and the flapping of the seagulls’ wings in the blue sky and blue sea, spurred me on to the passion and desire to rise up in my life.
Ana Magdin: Please share with our readers some beautiful souvenirs of your childhood!
Nguyen Dinh Tam: At the age of seven I had a girlfriend who often wore a beautiful shell-necklace. Once fell, the shell broke, she burst into tears. I had to soothe her, gave her another beautiful sea snail that my grandfather gave me from a boat trip. Her eyes lit up and she smiled brightly. Then I discovered that she had real „dimples” on her cheeks, beautiful like never before. I silently welcomed into my soul that graceful impressive. Then one moonlit night, she saw me off, still that rich smile, I accepted her „dimples” as travelling expenses. She died at the age of twenty. How many years passing by, but have not I spent all the „dimples” she gave me! I have my own moon night Sonat.
Ana Magdin: How old were you when fist decided to go towards Maritime Academy and what exactly attracted you to this field?
Nguyen Dinh Tam: The sea of my homeland has nourished my soul from my mother’s lullaby. I love the faint little boats in the stormy seasons. I wished to make a small contribution to the development of Vietnam’s maritime industry. At the age of nineteen, I enrolled to Vietnam Maritime University to study, then kept to teach there, to impart knowledge and to inspire next generations. I used to lead students to practice on ships many tons around the Ocean. My country had a fleet of ships to compare with friends, The seagull wings and the horizon gave me aspiration and passion. The arms of friends from all over the world welcome me warmly. The sea has been the résumé of my life.
Ana Magdin: When did you feel like writing your first poem and what inspires you the most?
Nguyen Dinh Tam: My first poem was composed on the first day I went onboard the ship, in Autumn 1972, named “ Waves into Autumn”. When the seagulls’ wings see off in the blue of the waves, then the horizon circled the surface of the sea, take the mobile ship as the center. The waves are extraordinary beautiful, when be a busybody, tender-hearted, peaceful, when the to have heart-to-heart with purple at sunset, when infatuated with the glittering golden moon, when sulking the waves make choppy sea. Then the birds from somewhere, hover peaceful wings to the small island, we anchored, moonlight hangs in front of the ship!
Ana Magdin: When did you became a member of The Vietnamese and Haiphong Writers Association?
Nguyen Dinh Tam: I was admitted to Hai Phong Writers Association in 1975. At that time I was teaching at Vietnam Maritime University, I had to worry about professional efforts, compiling textbooks and participating in scientific research projects; not enough time to carry out the writing plans. Only two poetry books have been published. After the day of retirement, I had more freetime, I began to search through my memories to write and „Stay up late with the Sea” epic together with three poetry books: “Stay up late with Autumn”, “Stay up late with the sea” and “A time of the sea”, that was my „passport” for me to be admitted to the Vietnam Writers Association in early 2018.
Ana Magdin: You wrote extraordinary poems about nature, love and life in general. Do you have a poem that you love the most, one that you cherish and goes deep into your soul?
Nguyen Dinh Tam: I have some short poems that I like and my friends also like, but I like and cherish the most is „Wake up with the Sea” epic, not only won the first prize in the literary contest of the Vietnam Writers Association and the Ministry of Transport, but my thoughts and gratitude to the children of the sea who have devoted and sacrificed their youth for the Fatherland, have been realized. Future, the song of ships/ is there any melody that enters the symphony domain/ would like to be a moment proud/ with a time of the sea/a time me. “Wake up with the sea” has been warmly and cherished by thousands of seafarers, lecturers, students of many generations and domestic readers.
Ana Magdin: What does your mother mean for you? I read one of your poems about your mother. You dedicated this poem to your mom at the end of the year.
Nguyen Dinh Tam: A lifetime of love and sacrifice for her children, my Mother is always present in me, in terms of kindness and tolerance. My mother is the source and inspiration for me to overcome all difficulties, challenge to live a beautiful life, go to success and look forward to the future, is the solid fulcrum of my life. She is Great mother in me. My mother is shining with everyone. On a mid-autumn day in 2015 I was orphaned from my Mother, at the end of that year, watching the fire to cook “bánh chưng” to offer to the altar of my parents, I wrote “By a cooking flame” with boundless compassion. In the whole life, I am the sea but mother’s heart are waves, console remember with love until grey-headded.
Ana Magdin: What did you hear about Romania, about the culture of our people? Have you hear about Dracula’s legend?
Nguyen Dinh Tam: I have not been to Romania, but Romania is beautiful in me. It is a country that values human values, human life and happiness. This is what many countries are aiming for. The color of your flag (blue-yellow-red) has a beautiful meaning symbolizing Freedom – Justice – and Fraternity. You have a rich and diverse culture and nature, many World-listed heritage sites, and a proud literature with the “Nobel Peace” and “Nobel Literature” awards. I have heard about Dracula Castle, the popularity of this castle is associated with Count Dracula, the main character in the novel „Dracula” by writer Bran Stocker…and this place has become a famous tourist destination.
Ana Magdin: What do you enjoy doing, tell us about your hobbies!
Nguyen Dinh Tam: Two-thirds of my life has been devoted to my profession: teaching, scientific research, field trips at sea and extra work to ensure a family life. The remaining time is precious now. I like to read and write, read to expand my knowledge, write to beautify my life, I spend a lot on writing,; If you have time, travel. My „storage” of sea memories is still full, I am aiming for more valuable works about the sea, the arm of the sea is hugging three-quarters of the earth. May the Vietnamese’s soul in my poetry be spread and merged with the souls of friends everywhere, towards the progress and beauty of human beings, the beauty of humanity, friendliness, friendship and peace.
Ana Magdin: A thought for our readers!
Nguyen Dinh Tam: The press and readers have commented a lot about me, and called me „Poet of the sea”. To quote one of the many comments from readers: „With a long poetic journey, Nguyen Dinh Tam’s poetry has crystallized experiences, thoughts, and perceptions about this life and created poems, The verses are simple and delicate, like grains of salt crystallized from the vast sea, the verses he wrote touching the sea are hauntingly erected. “Nguyen Dinh Tam’s epic poems are full of lyrical emotions, many touching poems, many beautiful verses, making a strong impression on readers” (Review of Nguyen Quang Thieu, President of Vietnam Writers’ Association).
Ana Moroșanu Magdin