In 2018, in order to fulfill a project in my Writing With Style course and to dedicate my quote-collecting hobby, I decided to start my very first journal where I recorded, imitated, transformed, translated and analyzed passages of literary works from all over the world. Originally, I thought such a journal would simply be filled with dull entries of my nonsense rambles; however, as I continued to work on adding more to my journal, I realized that I was wrong. I had completely underestimated how my journal, besides allowing me to explore more about different stylistic writing techniques, reflected my own self – never had I known before how much writing associates that much with my identity: a Vietnamese student from Vietnam who came all the way to study in America. It was as if this journal dusted off an important part of me that I had long ignored, a world inside me that I forgot that I could share to others.
And how could I forget such a unique side of mine? How could I forget that I, a person with a bilingual background between Vietnamese and English, have the advantage to be exposed to two different cultures of writing? As I kept on adding more to this journal, I was shocked to learn about all of the beautiful writing styles and rhetorical techniques from both of these cultures that I had missed, and for the first time, I officially stepped into the world I took for granted. It is hard to imagine how much I could have lost without writing this journal. Even at this very moment, I thank this journal again and again.
Now that I have shared my story of discovering my own long-lost gems, I will no further delay in introducing this journal to the rest of the world. While my entries are all disordered, fragmented memories of works I have read in the past until now, I did my best to divide them into Western, Eastern cultures and intermingles of languages (where translation involves) with the hope to make the journal “bilingual” as I am. At some moments, especially with Vietnamese pieces, I even translated some passages into English in order to explore how this bridge of languages links two cultures together and what meaning or rhetorical techniques each language has to add or sacrifice. This, perhaps, was the most challenging task to me when writing this journal; I wanted to fully transfer the same meanings and stylistic choices from the original literary works to the translations. Yet, I still chose to do so, since translation is my own way to show how much I love my bilingual background. I believe that both Vietnamese and English, my two beloved languages, deserve to be loved and appreciated equally.
As for the work selections, I have collected different kinds of writings from traditional writing platforms such as novels, poems, speeches as well as less traditional ones like graphic novels. Each piece has its own story and its own way of setting a footing to the audience, diction, rhetorical techniques and so on. However, the most special one to me is the last entry – a four-line stanza from a Vietnamese poem. Like how the poet will wander in his “after death” life with no regrets about what he has been through in his life, I will also have no regret even when I end this journal – perhaps I might abandon this journal and move on with my life, but I will never forget it. It will forever remain an evidence of how I was able to celebrate a unique part of my identity.
With all of this, dear readers, I welcome you to my journal, where I might write cleverly or make mistakes while still loving each of my entries. I hope you can see who I am through this journal, most importantly, I hope you enjoy this journal as much as I am. As an international student and a future educator, I hope this will engage you in the beauty of being a bilingual person and the art of connecting two cultures in different kinds of writing. May the exploration of language and writing begin!
Table of Contents
The Western World
A Poetic Opening
How Conversations Convey Things
Shakespeare and Love Confession
The Art of Shakespearean Sonnets
The Voice of a Struggling Soul
Wallace, Water and the Fish
The Eastern Wind
Flowers and Soul
The Intermingle of Languages
Love Beyond Differences: A Cat and a Seagull
A Final Wrap-Up: Words to Carry to the Grave