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Vietnam's dissident poet Thien dies

A Vietnamese dissident poet who spent nearly 30 years in communist prisons in his native country has died after a long bout of lung illness.

Close friend Hanh Thang-Thai said 73-year-old Nguyen Chi Thien died on Tuesday after spending several days in a Southern California hospital.

Thien first went to prison in 1960, after telling Vietnamese high school students that, contrary to their textbooks, the end of the Second World War was not the result of a Soviet attack, but rather US nuclear attacks in Japan.

In 1977, he was released from prison long enough to write down poems he had memorised in captivity, a manuscript that became known as Flowers of Hell. He was promptly sent back to prison.

He won the International Poetry Award in Rotterdam in 1985.


From Belfast Telegraph