Van Phan receives Swedish prize
Mai Van Phan (right) receives the Cikada Prize from Dr Lars Vargö,
chairman of the Cikada Prize’s jury, at the Temple of Literature on December 1.
Hai Phong -
based Mai Van Phan has become the second poet from Vietnam to win the
prestigious Cikada Prize.
Established in 2004, the Cikada Prize is awarded to an East Asian
poet who “in his/her poems shows poetic sensitivity for the inviolability of
life”. The prize was founded on the 100th birth anniversary of Swedish Nobel
Prize laureate Harry Martinson. The winner gets 20,000 SEK (2,200 USD) and a
ceramic art piece made by Swedish artist Gunilla Sundström.
In an award ceremony held at the Temple of Literature in Hanoi on
December 1, Phan expressed his appreciation to those who have translated his
poems into other languages. He expressed his appreciation for literary critics
and translators Erik Bergqvist and Maja Thrane, who helped bring his works to
“I could not imagine that my poetry, which has a strong
traditional identity, and my personality allure readers, especially smart
judges on the other side of the globe,” he told Vietnam News Agency’s English
language newspaper Viet Nam News.
Addressing the ceremony, Ylva Jansson, Chargé d’Affairs of the
Swedish Embassy said Phan has proved how poetry can give us a greater
understanding of the lives and cultures of others.
“Through poetry, the voice of one person can tell the story of
many. His poetry has been translated into 25 languages. Already in 2009 Mai Van
Phan’s poetry was translated into Swedish and published as a part of the
anthology ‘Till: igår – tolv vietnamesiska poeter’. A bigger selection of his
poems have this year been translated and published in Sweden through the book
‘Höstens Hastighet’,” she said.
Nguyen Phuong Hoa, deputy head of International Cooperation
Department under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, stressed that the
award is not only a recognition to the poet’s efforts but also recognition for
modern Vietnamese poetry.
“The prize is very meaningful, expressing an open policy in
encouraging cultural diversity and helping all of us understand more about the
beauty of poetry, souls and lives of other peoples,” she said, “The prize is
praise for the values of humanity for peace and a better life as well as an
important bridge in the Vietnam-Sweden friendship.”
Phan, who was born in 1955 in the northern province of Ninh Binh,
has received many literary awards in Vietnam, and his poetry has been published
in volumes in English and French.
The first Vietnamese winner of the award was Hoang Thi Y Nhi in
Michael Croft, Head of UNESCO Representative to Viet Nam (standing
in the middle)