Two poems by Nguyễn Tiên Hoàng, writing in Vietnamese as Thường Quán, with English translations by Ian Campbell and Tony Chu

Thường Quán, Ian Campbell* (Translator), Tony Chu (Translator)

*Corresponding author for this work

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Born in 1956 in Danang, Vietnam, Nguyễn Tiên Hoàng arrived in Australia in 1974 on a Colombo Plan scholarship. In writing poetry and literary essays in Vietnamese over more than thirty years he has generally used the pen name, Thường Quán. However, as Nguyễn Tiên Hoàng, his English language poems have been featured in the Poetry International Web series of Australian poets——as well as in a number of Australian poetry book collections, the most recent being Captive and Temporal, published by Vagabond Press (Sydney & Tokyo, 2017) in its Australia Series——which was short-listed for both the 2018 Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry and the Mary Gilmore Award in 2018. The poems published in this issue of PORTAL, ‘Ngoài Giấc Ngủ’ and ‘Hiện Ra,’ were included in the book poetry collection—also titled Ngoài Giấc Ngủ—published in California, USA, in 1990, which featured sixty-seven poems by Melbourne-based Nguyễn Tiên Hoàng, writing under the pen name Thường Quán. In 1994 the Journal of Vietnamese Studies (Melbourne) published the poem ‘Ngoài Giấc Ngủ,’ together with a first English language version co-translation, titled ‘Beyond,’ by Ian Campbell and Tony Chu. An adaptation of the poem was sung in Vietnamese ngâm style by Thu Huong Huynh, as part of ‘A Spring Evening of Poetry, Translated Verse and Music’ held in 1995 in Sydney to mark 50 years of post-war migration to Australia. The English language version later appeared in 1996, with the original poem in Vietnamese, in a Sydney-based Vietnamese language newspaper, and in 2002 the English language translation appeared again in Sunlines: An Anthology of Poetry to Celebrate Australia’s Harmony in Diversity, edited by Anne Fairbairn (Canberra: Dept. of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, 2002). The English language co-translation of the poem appeared in Nguyễn Tiên Hoàng’s collection, Captive and Temporal (Sydney & Tokyo: Vagabond Press, 2017). The poem, ‘Ngoài Giấc Ngủ,’ now appears in its Vietnamese language original form (1990), and in an English language co-translation by Chu and Campbell which varies slightly from all previous translations. An English language version of the poem, ‘Hiện Ra,’ has never been previously published and appears now in a co-translation as ‘Becoming Visible,’ together with the 1990 poem in its original Vietnamese language version.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-124
Number of pages4
JournalPortal: Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2018. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Australia
  • Poetry
  • Vietnamese diaspora
  • Nguyễn Tiên Hoàng
  • Thường Quán
  • Ian Campbell
  • Tony Chu
  • Ngoài Giấc Ngủ
  • Hiện Ra


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