Poet John Balaram has translated the poetry of an 18th century Vietnamese concubine in the new book, –Spring Essence: The Poetry of Ho Xuang Huong— (Copper Canyon Press) Ho Xuang Huong won acclaim for her poetry despite the fact that she was a woman and she challenged established conventions. Most of her poems also were double entendres: a hidden sexual meaning lay behind her words. Balaban was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam war, and went back to the country after the war to collect and preserve Vietnamese folk poetry.
Writer John Balaban. Balaban was one of the very few Vietnam-era conscientious objectors who volunteered to go to Vietnam. Once there, he was overwhelmed with the paradoxes of the war...among other things, he found himself picking up a gun, in order to defend a hospital from attack. His memoir of that time, called "Heaven's Face: A Moral Witness in Vietnam" has just been published by Poseidon Press. (Interview by Marty Moss-Coane)