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While Li Po and other classic Chinese poets mostly found expression through landscape, Vietnamese poet Nguyen Trai (1380–1422) wrote about his own life. The literary symbols of T’ang Dynasty poetry are relatively general, traditional, and polite, but Nguyen Trai developed a colloquial and personal style. As a result, his poems have the intimacy and immediacy of the everyday. Over six hundred years old, they appear, in this translation by contemporary Vietnamese poet Nguyen Do and American poet Paul Hoover, to have been written only yesterday, by someone whose feelings we are able to share, despite his distance from us in time and culture. This is the first collection of Nguyen Trai’s poetry to be published in English.

Poet, journalist, and translator Nguyen Do is the editor, with Paul Hoover, of Black Dog, Black Night: Contemporary Vietnamese Poetry (Milkweed, 2008). Born and raised in Hanoi, he is among his nation’s leading writers. He now divides his time between Vietnam and San Francisco.

Paul Hoover is the translator, most recnetly, with Maxine Chernoff, of the Selected Poems of Friedrich Holderlin (Omnidawn, 2008), winner of the 2009 PEN USA Award for Translation. He is the editor, with Nguyen Do, of Black Dog, Black Night: Contemporary Vietnamese Poetry (Milkweed, 2008). He is also the author of numerous books, most recently Sonnet 56 (Les Figues, 2009) and Fables of Representation: Essays (University of Michigan, 2004). He is the editor of Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology (1994) and coeditor of New American Writing. He teaches at San Francisco State University.

Beyond the Court Gate reviewed by Craig Santos Perez
in Zoland Poetry

Paul Hoover talks about Beyond the Court Gate in an interview with Leonard Schwartz, Cross Cultural Poetics, episode #223 at PennSound

Ron Slate mentions Beyond the Court Gate on his blog

Review at Seminary Co-op Bookstore

Paul Hoover on Nguyen Trai

Beyond the Court Gate: Selected Poems of Nguyen Trai
Nguyen Trai
Translated by Nguyen Do and Paul Hoover
$16.95, 180 pgs.
ISBN 978-1933996-17-2