Dreaming the Mountain
The North American debut of Tuệ Sỹ—poet, monk, scholar, dissident, and one of the great cultural figures of modern Vietnam—and a new bilingual edition to the Seedbank series.
Assembled and co-translated by Vietnamese poet and essayist Nguyen Ba Chung and acclaimed American poet Martha Collins, Dreaming the Mountain reflects a lifetime of creation, crisis, and commitment. With poems presented on facing pages in Vietnamese and English, this volume includes the early imagism of Tuệ Sỹ’s Zen studies as a scholar and critic, midlife work that represents his attempted retreat from the devastation of war and subsequent years of imprisonment, and late, elliptical poems that give intensely lyrical expression to a lifetime of profound experience. From the “fleeting dream of red blood at dusk” to the quiet determination of one who sets out to “repaint the dawn,” these poems reflect the journey of an artist who speaks for his country, who captures its darkness and its light.
At once personal and universal, coolly observant and deeply compassionate, the poems of Tuệ Sỹ bring singular attention to a fleeting, painfully beautiful world.
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Praise and Prizes
“[Dreaming the Mountain] is a collection of great depth and longing. Sy is attuned to the gossamer impermanence of clouds and dreams, of all that we know shifting, disappearing, returning. He names what goes and comes across a thousand years.[. . .] If there’s loneliness in these poems, it’s the loneliness of a soul aware of his small place among a mysterious immensity, an immensity that includes the butterfly wing, the bending grass, the wet eyes of a love. And it’s the loneliness that somehow, powerfully, makes one feel less alone.”
“Dreaming the Mountain is a moving depiction of a mind seeking freedom in a chaotic world: the doubts and certainties, the careful, profound observations, and, ultimately, the dedication to liberation. It belongs with the greats of wartime poetry and Buddhist literature, but it’s also a generous companion for any of us seeking to understand this human life.”
“[Dreaming the Mountain] embodies the Zen view that everything we experience is simultaneously present and evanescent. [. . .] the best way to describe anything, physical, emotional, or spiritual is to shine light on it from more than one direction. Which is what Tuệ Sỹ does luminously.”
“Sỹ is a master of blending the body and its surroundings, making the metaphysical tangible.”
“Milkweed’s Seedbank series is one of the most exciting and visionary projects in contemporary publishing. Taking the long view, these volumes run parallel to the much-hyped books of the moment to demonstrate the possibility and hope inherent in all great literature.”