Poetry Corner: Ho Chi Minh’s Prison Poetry

As well as being the anti-colonial and revolutionary leader of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh was also a keen poet. Here we feature some of the poems wrote by Ho Chi Minh during a long period of imprisonment.

In 1942, at age 52, Ho Chi Minh was arrested in South China, accused of being a spy by Nationalist forces. For fourteen months, bound in leg irons, he was shifted from jail to jail. Throughout he kept a diary written in poetry. The following poems are a selection of poems from Ho Chi Minh’s Prison Diary.

Poetry Corner: A Man’s a Man for a’ That by Robert Burns

A Man’s a Man for a’ That by Robert Burns, 1795.

Robert (or Rabbie) burns was born in Alloway, Ayrshire, on 25 January 1759. Burns was born to tenant farming parents, initially had very little formal education and worked as a farm labourer from a young age.

Burns drew much from what little patchy education he did receive but continued to work a variety of manual jobs. Burns’s father was unfortunate in farming and the family moved often, compelled by poverty and hardship.

Poetry Corner: Masses by César Vallejo

César Abraham Vallejo Mendoza was a Peruvian poet, writer, playwright, and journalist. Born the 11th child to parents who were both of mixed Spanish and Quechua Native origins, Vallejo as a child witnessed at first hand hunger and poverty and the injustices done to the indigenous peoples of the region.

Vallejo attended the University of Trujillo, where he studied both law and literature, writing a thesis entitled El romanticismo en la poesía castellana (“Romanticism in Castilian Poetry”; published 1954).

Although he published only three books of poetry during his lifetime, he is considered one of the great poetic innovators of the 20th century in any language. He was always a step ahead of literary currents, and each of his books was distinct from the others, and, in its own sense, revolutionary.

Poetry Corner: VE Day 75 – Will V-Day Be Me-Day Too?

As part of the celebrations around the 75th Anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, Challenge’s Poetry Corner will be featuring a selection of poems from across the world, inspired by the war and its events.

Here we feature Will V-Day Be Me-Day Too? written by Langston Hughes. The poem is written from the perspective of a black US serviceman. It is a profound comment on the profound and structural racism on which the USA is and was based and the sad fact that black servicemen were abroad fighting to defeat the same racist and oppressive ideologies they were forced to endure at home.

Poetry Corner: VE Day 75 – Wait for Me

As part of the celebrations around the 75th Anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, Challenge’s Poetry Corner will be featuring a selection of poems from across the world, inspired by the war and its events.

Here we feature Wait for Me written in 1941 by Konstantin Simonov. The poem is written from the perspective of a Soviet soldier heading to the front, addressing their spouse or partner. It became a favourite of Soviet servicemen and women at the time and continues to be popular in Russia today.

Poetry Corner: A Few Poems for Lenin’s Birthday

Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, known to us as Lenin, was born 150 years ago on the 22nd of April. His effect on history, on revolutionary thought and on the minds of the people of this world, all remain possibly unparalleled by any figure of the tumultuous 20th century. One of the ways in which Lenin remained immortalised was by the admiration displayed for him by various artists around the world, especially writers. Lenin remains, as Marcel Liebman once wrote, a figure which nearly every insurrectionary movement claims as their heritage.