Poetry News

Ben Niespodziany Spends Time With Linh Dinh

By Harriet Staff
Linh Dinh

At Neon Pajamas, Linh Dinh speaks with Ben Niespodziany about his return to Vietnam and the process of compiling his collected poetry. Dinh is the author of poetry and short story collections, which look at the most extraordinary and mundane aspects of life. "Whimsical and wild," Niespodziany writes in his introduction, "without a filter, he keeps his chaos brief, blending prose poetry with microfiction." Dinh is extremely prolific, to say the least. In his initial question, Niespodziany asks him "in twelve years, you wrote nine books, translated another, and edited another. What was your daily writing regimen like during that time?" We'll pick up with Dinh's response there: 

Observing, listening and reflecting are also parts of writing, so in that sense, I was writing all the time, but I had to work hard at those three activities, and I’m still practicing, daily. Like nearly everybody, I hardly know how to see and hear, much less think. I miss so much. As for the actual writing, I wasted a lot of time banging on a typewriter, since I didn’t know how to type, but the arrival of the computer saved my ass. To write, one should read very carefully, that’s all. See all the different ways Hemingway or Annie Proulx build a sentence, for example. Teachers and writing workshops aren’t just useless, for the most part, but likely harmful, for you’re prone to be learning from not just a failed writer but someone who’s hustling for a deeply corrupt and intellectually crippling institution, an American university. On top of that, you’ll receive idiotic inputs from your fellow students. Although people can learn directly from Celine, Paul Bowles and Whitman, etc., at minimal cost, many are still willing to go into suicidal debt to receive instructions from a cast of dishonest incompetents, and they do this because they’re much more interested in networking than writing.

Read more at Neon Pajamas.

Originally Published: May 22nd, 2018