Event honoring 'world poet' sparks debate

By Ha Thu   December 27, 2022 | 12:15 am PT
Event honoring 'world poet' sparks debate
A screenshot of Tong Thu Ngan (R) on stage at the event on December 22, 2022
An event honoring Tong Thu Ngan, 67, as a “world poet” on December 22 has caused a backlash on on social media due to questions about its legitimacy.

Many social media accounts on Monday morning shared photos of a woman on a stage, with the background screen saying "World Poet Tong Thu Ngan" with a series of titles such as "Chairwoman of the Senior Disciplinary Committee of the World Poets Society, Lifetime Ambassador of the World Poets Society, Vice Chairwoman of Defenders of World Poets and chairwoman of many domestic and international poetry clubs."

Many poets, writers and readers said Tong Thu Ngan is not a well-known name in Vietnamese literary circles, and that she used self-proclaimed titles. Literary critic and writer Pham Xuan Nguyen said: "This is a desecration and mockery of poetry. Tong Thu Ngan is a nobody but claims to be a world-class poet. What is even more ironic is that the organizers are willing to recognize this title."

"It’s surprising how far people will go just to get fame and titles with their names," Quang Nguyen Ngoc commented on Facebook. "But it’s all fake."

"I have never heard of her before and then one day she just popped up all over my feed," Quang continued. "Is this a publicity stunt?"

On Monday afternoon, Nguyen Manh Ha, director of the Quang Ninh Province Culture and Sports Department, said the department had investigated the event after the photos spread across social media networks.

After verification, the department said the event was organized by Hang Holy Group JSC. The company reportedly. asked the department for a permit to hold the event under the name Travel & Asian Guinness Record Talent 2022. However, the request had not been approved due to the lack of details and documents. However, the company organized the event without the department’s permission.

In addition, this company also illegally used the logos of local media outlets such as Voice of Vietnam (VOV) and digital television network VTC in the event. The department said it will do a further investigation and that it will handle this case in accordance with the law.

According to information on a literary website, Tong Thu Ngan was born in 1955 in southern Ben Tre Province. She also uses the pen name Mimosa Tim. Ngan is a former lecturer at the HCMC University of Education, but she now lives in Texas, the U.S. She has been composing poetry since 2016 and has written more than 1,000 poems.

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