This monthly series features highlights from the Cross Cultural Poetics archive. Cross Cultural Poetics is one of the longest-running radio shows in America focused on contemporary poetry and poetics. Based at The Evergreen State College and hosted by Leonard Schwartz, the entire archive, running from 2003 to the present, can be accessed on PennSound.
This month, I’ve chosen an episode from the fall 2004 season—an interview with Saigon-born poet, fiction writer and translator, Linh Dinh. Dinh reads from his 2004 collection of stories, Blood and Soap, including the extraordinary story “Prisoner with a Dictionary,” which he calls a “story of conversion” that speaks to the experience of being caught between two languages. He also reads from the 2001 anthology, Three Vietnamese Poets, which he translated, as well as his 2003 poetry collection, All Around What Empties Out. Schwartz and Dinh discuss the relationship between power and imagination, and the play between the comic and the tragic that runs through Dinh’s poetry and stories—something Dinh attributes to the French tradition of black humor, running from Rabelais to Alfred Jarry, Henri Michaux and Antonin Artaud.—Angela Buck
Linh Dinh is the author of five books of poems (All Around What Empties Out, American Tatts, Borderless Bodies, Jam Alerts and Some Kind of Cheese Orgy), two books of stories (Fake House and Blood and Soap) and a novel, Love Like Hate. He’s also the editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry. His current project is a blog of photographs and political essays, State of the Union. He regularly provides political commentaries for Iran’s Press TV, and occasionally also for Russia Today.