Identities, it’s about what ties me

SabineHuynh par AnneCollongues

Photo: Anne Collongues

Sabine Huynh’s poetry

SILVIA PIO (edited by)

A long list of places, at the world’s opposite ends: Saigon, Lyons, London, Boston, Jerusalem, Ottawa, Tel Aviv , just to name a few. These have been the stops of Sabine Huynh’s journey, appearing, clear or in a dreamlike haze, but always strongly, in her works, written in an handful of different languages.

A series of jobs and employments have taken her to sociolinguistic researching and teaching. But poetry and literature have always been by her side, coming out in her many works and in the translation of other authors’ writing, also in collaboration with different artists: two painters, photographers, etc.

Poetry, for her, is identity and language, a place to call one’s own and a voice that «has nothing of the mother tongue». It’s a «language of elsewhere», in order to survive this present time and where to find a home (home that now happens to be in Tel Aviv with hibiscus flowers within arm’s reach). A «language of immensity, of horizon» that Margutte is glad and proud to host in English, French and Italian.

AndréJolivet 1

Art book, André Jolivet


So many questions asked
around a three-eyed guy.
Indeed a monstrous creature,
I and I and always I,
no oh no ah, just a wild screech,
all about eyes and ego.

it’s about what ties me
to you, the old me,
and makes me ask:
who am


Caroline François-Rubino 3

Indian ink drawing, Caroline François-Rubino

Everything can topple over

Cat-less shadows & gutters
thick walls & secrets
fake cheerfulness under hurried skies
frantic are your heartbeats
slow your steps
in alleys woven with memories almost forgotten
your eyes trapped in silent cracks

Under hatched clouds
everything can topple over
when the tocsin bells ring
and the empty distance between you and them
fill up with fallen rocks.


ChristineDelbecq 3

Black chalk drawing, Christine Delbecq

Old love trapped in a pasty

After all that time I could have ended up thinking I had
invented you, but I dived and found your old letters from Cornwall.
Glued together they form a lifebelt which inflates when I sigh.
Desperately warm was the microclimate on the Isles of Scilly,
but once back in cold London, I took a wishful bite into a Cornish
pasty, and the dry conch gave way to that oniony substance
so unworthy of reminiscence. Have we spent our best years
under salty waters, our hearts wrapped in the same scab casing,
morsels mixed up with sand and sealed into oblivion?

The out-of-focus pictures of gulls you were so proud of
omitted the musty smells, mossy crosses, bus rides in the rain.
How they laughed swooping down onto our bare love.
Your stepfather the mineworker enjoyed hearing
my voiceless cascading happiness echoing
the screech. Weird crackling sounds that took him
right back to the tin mine, the tin cry. There was a time
before the tins, not of the hard crab apples you fed me, but of
hearty pasties with crimped edges, meals sealed by a weavy seam.

At Paddington station an Indian man peddled pasties.
The hard diced potatoes I chewed on filled my ears with our feet
stomping, already crushing muddied ice. We thought our love
was as tough as seamen, sailing on noisy trains racketing
about the country, getting in and out of wet urban grottoes.
From Islington to Helston, from St. John’s Wood to St. Ives,
tirelessly hoping to last. But in the dark the engine was howling
the racking pain to come, after the seals of our pact had been broken.

The recipe instructed to slit the pastry for the steam to escape.
You incised my heart and left it unstitched, unconscious
of the aftertaste. Stale flour castles crumble over so easily,
washed away is the original shape of consumed food.
You said you didn’t write again because you went snorkelling.
It all boils down to the same old ocean of silence so full
of remorse you expected me to forget and forgive.
Today I live by the sea and my lips are sealed.

AnneCollongues 1

Photo: Anne Collongues

Sabine Huynh was born in 1972. She holds a Ph.D. in Linguistics (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), used to do research in Linguistics and to teach foreign languages and literature. She has authored poetry and prose books, and an anthology of modern French poetry, which were published by Galaade, Voix d’encre, La Porte, éditions, Recours au poème éditeurs and E-Fractions, among others. Her poetry collection Kvar lo is due out in the fall of 2015 with the French publisher Æncrages & Co. She writes in English and French, translates, teaches creative writing classes, and regularly contributes, with reviews and translations, to the modern poetry journals Terre à ciel, Terres de femmes and Recours au poème.
Her website: presque dire.
Her Twitter account: Her Facebook page:

The pictures in this article are by artists who have collaborated with Sabine Huynh: Anne Collongues (photographer), Christine Delbecq (painter, contemporary mixed-media artist), Caroline François-Rubino (painter), André Jolivet (painter).

SDC12590 sabine


Photo: Silvia Pio