Reanimating Vietnamese Australian Diasporas through Digital Autographics: The Work of Lê Văn Tài

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Through a focus on the thematics present in the work of the Vietnamese Australian writer and artist Lê Văn Tài and his later adaptation of his experimental print poetics, this article examines how Lê’s work represents a significant precursor to modern digital autographics, or digital graphic life writing, from the Vietnamese Australian diaspora. Lê Văn Tài fled Vietnam in 1981, resettled in Australia in 1984, and in 1987, self-published a collection of experimental poetics, Empty arms surrounded by warm breath, that explores his migration and resettlement as a refugee. He later adapted sections of this collection as part of a digital web project, Redreaming the Plains, and used rudimentary digital forms to find new methods for expressing the complexities of his history as a refugee, while more explicitly attending to and updating the anti-immigration and antimulticulturalism sentiments that undermine his ability to settle in Australia. Through an analysis of his adaptation of his print poetics to digital forms, this article proposes that Lê’s use of text and image allows him to explore fraught and often ambivalent responses to his experiences of migration and resettlement. Lê’s engagement with experimental poetics specifically conveys how such approaches have long been used by Vietnamese Australian writers to express the contradictions and particularities of forced migration, while contesting prevailing literary expectations of writing by members of this diaspora.


This article was originally published in Antipodes. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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