Sep 4, 2021 2 min read

On poetry and water

Hello all,

Thank you for joining me. This week, I would like to share a poem with you.

For me, poetry is a form of storytelling. Shining a light on our vulnerabilities, it helps us to appreciate the world while relating and empathising with one another. In its most authentic form, poetry can even be compared to water.

Arthur Sze

When I lived in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam for a couple of years, I became aware of the impact of floods on local communities. I saw the monsoon and extreme rainfall when cyclones hit central Vietnam. I saw people left vulnerable and still doing everything in their power to help others.

Every month, the families of my neighbourhood came together to solve disputes and to collect money for projects such as raising the level of the streets as an adaptation measure to prolific flooding. Overtime, I learnt to connect with these communities and experience their wisdom and untold stories.

This poem is inspired by a Vietnamese woman I saw a picture of during that time. Seeing her sitting on the rooftop of her house during a flood made me want to capture the memory in words, so I wrote this poem and had it translated in English and Vietnamese.

Thank you for taking the time to read as always and if you would like to share your poem connected to water, please do let me know.

Flooding in Vietnam's Dong Thap province, 2011. Some of the flooded homes appear abandoned but some people wait until the last moment. Photo credit: Evangelos Petratos EU/ECHO (CC)
English version
The poem was originally written in Dutch
Vietnamese version
When extreme weather events hit the displaced

When extreme weather events hit the displaced

Millions are displaced within and beyond political boundaries, mostly due to conflicts. The displaced people get settled in camps that lack basic amenities. The problems that they face with respect to food, water and sanitation are exacerbated due to climate-induced extreme weather events, as seen in Syria, writes Toka Mahmoud.

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Water Stories

Joep Janssen
Joep Janssen
Founder and editor-in-chief Nextblue
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