Around the World with Poetry

Photo by Dariusz Sankowski on Unsplash
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Happy Poetry Month!

This month gives us a chance to celebrate one of our most loved forms of art and communication! Personally, I have always loved poetry because of its ability to creatively transcend and destroy barriers. Distance, time, culture, language, and social status don’t stand a chance against the strength of a beautifully written poem. Poetry will always find a way to captivate the hearts of all who are meant to experience it! Today, little infinite is taking you on a trip around the world! Join us as we take a closer look at the way poetry has found and influenced four phenomenal poets in countries around the globe.

Saigon, Vietnam

Photo Credit: Collier Schorr

Hailing from Saigon, Vietnam, Ocean Vuong has become a multi-award winning and New York Times Best Selling author. From his heartbreakingly raw debut novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, to his internationally praised poetry collection, Night Sky With Exit Wounds, Ocean Vuong’s name is one to remember. His work covers a wide range of experiences most immigrants and first-generation Americans can relate to with ease. Vuong bravely details the challenges his family faced while relocating from Vietnam to Hartford, Connecticut. Personally, my favorite part of Vuong’s work is his reflective nature. His talent effortlessly illuminates every way he has seen his mother’s fear and plight through different light as years have passed– a journey into adulthood every child of immigrants knows all too well.

Ocean Vuong is currently living in Northampton, MA and is an Associate Professor at UMass-Amherst. Vuong’s next poetry collection, Time is A Mother, just debuted on April 5th!

For More by Ocean Vuong:

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

Night Sky With Exit Wounds

Time is A Mother

London, England

Photo Credit: Rachel Long via Twitter

The historic streets of London, England have always been home to some of the world’s most loved artists. Today, Rachel Long continues that legacy though she never had any intention of becoming a poet. But then again, I suppose poetry is usually a calling most of us answer accidentally. After attending a workshop with famous Jamaican dub poet, Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze, Long uncovered her sharp and powerful voice. She has been writing poetry ever since! Her debut collection, My Darling from the Lions, discusses black identity by examining sexual politics, femininity, and modern culture. The beauty of Rachel Long’s work lies in her ability to effortlessly lead readers to question their subconscious biases and relationship with the world around them.

Shortly after entering the industry, Long quickly noticed the lack of inclusion and representation in literature. In 2015, she created Octavia Poetry Collection, an organization dedicated to amplifying the voices of black and brown womxn in literature. Currently, Rachel Long continues to reside in London where she regularly serves as a panelist and judge for numerous literary events, collaborates with her peers in Octavia and of course, writes!

For More by Rachel Long:

My Darling from the Lions

Rachel Long Read ‘Apples’

Octavia Poetry Collection

Kandal province, Cambodia

Photo Credit: Magical Cambodia

Born in Kandal province, near the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, Yeng Chheangly eagerly sought out every chance to learn. He was raised in a time when the country was dealing with the aftermath of a tumultuous period in their history. During which, free education was rare and school became a luxury most families were unable to afford. Chheangly was grateful to be the lucky child in his family to attend school for free and took advantage of every opportunity to learn. His thirst for knowledge led him to find his true love– poetry.

While Chheangly primarily writes contemporary poetry, in his earlier days he wrote using the ancient Cambodian writing style, Khmer. Khmer has about fifty forms and uses complex meter and rhythm and is often created to be chanted aloud. His poetry illustrates the world around him, his experiences in an ever shifting Cambodia, and the beautiful moments that help him and his country heal. Yeng Chheangly’s love for poetry has led him to new lands and allowed him to remain a faithful student of life by connecting with mentors and friends around the globe.

Today, he continues writing for the pure love of it! Now a multi-award winning poet, Chheangly mixes poetry with different mediums, including video and music, and participates in spreading education and poetry to younger generations through workshops whenever possible.

“And I sometimes value a poem as the magic medicine that could cure the inner pain of humans.” – Yeng Chheangly

For More by Yeng Chheagnly:

Modern Literature of Cambodia: Transnational Voices of Transformation (2016)

An old Book & The Sound of Tro – Poems by Yeng Chheangly

I See You & Khmer Dogs- Poems by Yeng Chheangly

Video Poetry:

Experiements in Video Poetry by Yeng Chheangly

Pigeon’s Song

Chimaltenango, Guatemala

Photo Credit: Manuel Morillo

Rosa Chávez, is a Mayan, artistic powerhouse who creates poetry, works of art, and performances highlighting Guatemala’s complex everyday life and history. Chávez was born in San Andrés Iztapa, Chimaltenango, Guatemala. However, she was brought up in Santa Cruz del Quiché where, due to the Guatemalan Civil War, educational resources were scarce. After discovering poetry in school, a fire was lit within her. She borrowed countless books from teachers and began writing sonnets that rhymed and stayed true to traditional form. Chávez went on to finish school in Guatemala City where she was immersed in a world that held colorful art at every turn.

The fierce artist has since worked with numerous organizations to bring art, performance, and education to underserved communities throughout Guatemala. Chávez’s work often celebrates the healing power of poetry and its ability to transform communities, uplift female voices and introduce outsiders to Guatemala’s rich history.

Rosa Chávez’s voice has produced more than five poetry collections since 2005, including Casa solitaria (2005), Piedra abaj’ (2009), and Quitapenas (2010). Currently, Chávez continues pursuing unique opportunities to educate and create while serving as the Program Coordinator for JASS, an organization that supports female empowerment and representation throughout different regions in the world.

Poetry has always moved me, but I’ve also been moved by history, by my people’s history. All these questions steer my path.”- Rosa Chávez

For More by Rosa Chávez:

I Like to Kiss Scars

Seven Poems by Rosa Chávez

Poetry Magazine Issue 157025 February 2022