Famous Vietnamese-American Poet to Give Poetry Lectures at Harvard University

Nguyen Thanh Viet, a Vietnamese-American author and writer, has announced that he will be giving six lectures at Harvard University over the academic year spanning from Fall 2023 to Spring 2024.


Nguyen Thanh Viet will receive the prestigious Charles Eliot Norton lecture series on Poetry, beginning on September 19. He will be the first Southeast Asian to receive this honor.

Photo: Facebook
Photo: Facebook

The previous lecturer of the Norton series was Orhan Pamuk, the Nobel Prize-winning writer who took over the position. Other notable names to have taught the series include acclaimed writer Toni Morrison, legendary musician Herbie Hancock, and renowned director Agnès Varda.

The Vietnamese writer expressed trepidation upon learning of the illustrious list of educators who had taught at the school before him, feeling that the appointment had come too soon. Yet, he vowed to do his utmost and was eagerly anticipating seeing his friends in Cambridge and Boston during the upcoming school year.

The past lecturers have included renowned authors and poets such as Robert Frost, T.S. Eliot, W.H. Auden, Saul Bellow, Seamus Heaney, and Adrienne Rich.

The Charles Eliot Norton Lecture on Poetry is a series of lectures that has been in operation since 1925. This is Harvard University’s most distinguished series of lectures on the arts and humanities. It celebrates individuals who are gifted in the art of expression, and the concept of “poetry” is interpreted in a wide sense, including any form of expression in language, music, or the arts. Notable speakers from the past have included renowned authors and poets such as Robert Frost, T.S. Eliot, W.H. Auden, Saul Bellow, Seamus Heaney, and Adrienne Rich.

Photo: USSC News
Photo: USSC News

Previous Norton lectures have analyzed poetry from the perspective of renowned authors including T.S. Eliot, Jorge Luis Borges, Leonard Bernstein, Czeslaw Milosz, John Cage, and Nadine Gordimer.

Nguyen Thanh Viet, born in 1971, is a Vietnamese-American writer who has achieved immense success and recognition in the literary world. His debut novel, “The Sympathizer,” was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2016 and has since gone on to win numerous other literary awards. Other works of his include Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War (a finalist for the National Book Award in nonfiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award in General Nonfiction) and Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America. His works have become a testament to the profound capabilities of literature in addressing issues of identity, history, and race.

His latest novel, “The Committed,” the sequel to “The Sympathizer,” was released in 2021. Following this, his next book, A Man of Two Faces: A Memoir, A History, A Memorial, is due to be published by Grove Press in October.

He is an accomplished University Professor, the Aerol Arnold Chair of English, and a distinguished Professor of English, American Studies and Ethnicity, and Comparative Literature at the renowned University of Southern California.

Charlotte Pho