N G U Y E N C H I T H I E N Chi Thien was born in Ha Noi in 1939 to a lower middle-class family. When the war with France began in 1946, his family fled to their native village in the countryside. They returned to Ha Noi in 1949. Thien's political views came under suspicion by the authorities in 1956, and in 1960 he was arrested and imprisoned for three and a half years in labor camps. There he began to compose and memorize poems. In 1966, he was imprisoned again, charged with composing politically irreverent poems that circulated in Ha Noi and Hai Phong. In 1977, two years after the fall of Saigon, Thien and other political prisoners were released to make room for officers of the Republic of Viet Nam. Once free, he seized the opportunity to write down his poems. In 1979, Thien was arrested once more, and imprisoned for twelve years. Following an international protest led by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, he was finally released in 1991. In 1995, by a special agreement with the Vietnamese and American governments, he was allowed to immigrate to the United States.
Manoa – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Aug 3, 2006