02.11.2020, 19:32

Nong Viet Toai - poet and writer of the Viet Bac area

Nong Viet Toai - poet and writer of the Viet Bac area
The 94-year-old writer Nong Viet Toai. (Photo: Cong Luan, Thuy Kieu)

Writer, poet Nong Viet Toai was born in Ngan Son County in the North Vietnamese province of Bac Kan. At the age of 94 he is considered to be one of the "elders" of ethnic literature and art in Vietnam. In a small house in the suburbs of Bac Kan town, it seems that there are rooms only for wooden shelves full of books. Nong Viet Toai told of his fate with literature and art:

“In 1963 I took a course run by the Association for Writers. In the classroom's bookcase there was a novel in French that I could just write down in my mother tongue and retell it. While working in an art ensemble, in a radio station and for the art magazine Viet Bac, I became interested in the language of the ethnic minority, in which I wrote many works. ”

Writer Nong Viet Toai. (Photo: Cong Luan, Thuy Kieu)

Nong Viet Toai has written many works on the subject of homeland, land and people in Viet Bac. These include four collections of poems “Elimination of backward customs”, “Midday sunshine” and “Review”. He has also written the lyrics of many songs in the Tay language, including a song with background music from the song “Vietnam - My Homeland” by the composer Do Nhuan, and the folk song “Beginning of Spring”. Nong Viet Toai is also the author of many poems in the Tay language with the melodies of Then singing in the Cao Bang and Bac Kan areas, which were set to music and used by the art ensemble of the Viet Bac autonomous region for performances for many years. With the development of society, the ethnic groups have increasingly integrated into one another. However, the Tay ethnic group has its own development, so Nong Viet Toai further:

“Some people have told me that in hundreds of years the Tay could be the Kinh - the majority of the Vietnamese. But I thought differently about it. There's probably a mix. But the Tay have their own development. ”

With regard to literature, Nong Viet Toai has also achieved success. For example, in the prose "The Winding Road" that Toai wrote in 1957 one can learn about a village and an area of ​​the Tay in the early period of the revolution. Toai later wrote many stories in the Tay language, including the short story "The Grus," which was much appreciated. Since then he has been called the writer Nong Viet Toai. The chairman of the Bac Kan Province Literature and Art Association, Duong Khau Luong, said:

“Writer Nong Viet Toai has made a great contribution to the literature of the ethnic minorities in Vietnam. He is considered a role model for the next young poets and writers because he is a passionate and responsible writer in art work. Despite his old age, he is still committed to work. ”

In addition to poems and short stories, Nong Viet Toai has also researched the culture of ethnic minorities. He has collected the folkloric chants as well as the ancient stories, idioms and proverbs of the minority peoples, especially the Tay. He is also working on a Tay-Viet dictionary to bequeath a valuable treasure to future generations. With his major contributions, the Ethnic Minority Literature and Art Association of Vietnam held a seminar on the life and career of the writer Nong Viet Toai last year to honor his contributions to the revolution, literature and the arts.

Cong Luan