Bùi Chát’s real name is Bùi Quang Viễn. He was born on October 22, 1979, at Hố Nai, Biên Hòa, Đồng Nai Province, Việt Nam into a family of patriotic Catholic refugees from the North in 1954.
Bùi Chát graduated in 2001 from the Faculty of Literature, Linguistics, and Journalism of Hồ Chí Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities. Since then he has been living in Sài Gòn as a poet, freelance writer, and independent publisher. Bùi Chát named and cofounded Nhóm Mở Miệng (Open Mouth Group) with poet Lý Đợi, whose aim is to promote “garbage poetry” and “cemetery poetry.”
He also founded Nhà Xuất bản Giấy Vụn (Scrap Paper Publishing House), which prints and distributes, in xerographic form, works by “pavement poets” that run the risk of being censored. In 2004, Bùi Chát and cofounder Lý Đợi were jailed for two days for passing out flyers at the site of a poetry reading cancelled by the police. In 2005, the culture department cancelled a performance planned at the Goethe Institute in Hà Nội.
In 2011, Bùi Chát was awarded the IPA Freedom to Publish Prize “for his exemplary courage in upholding the freedom to publish.” He was arrested again upon his return to Việt Nam after receiving the award in Buenos Aires and detained for several days.
Photo by Tao Lao.