Tuesday, September 19, 2023

New author website

Dear readers,

I have moved to a new website: vuongphampoetry.wordpress.com

See you there,

Vuong Pham

Friday, October 25, 2013

Say No to Cyber Bullying

Recently, I have become victim to a serious case of cyber bullying. While there is evil in this world, it is important to remember our calling as Christians, that: "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:13-16.

As an educator, I'd like to encourage youth and raise awareness on cyber bullying. What I have been experiencing can be used for good, to enlighten others. To give you an overview, we'll be looking at what cyber bullying is; what you can do to stop cyber bullying; how you can be a supportive bystander; where you can get help.

What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is a form of bullying that is carried out through an internet service such as email, chat room, discussion group, online social networking, instant messaging or web pages. It can happen in school, or out of it, any hour of the day, from people you know, and sometimes people you don’t know. It can leave you feeling unsafe and alone. Being cyberbullied might include having any of the following happen to you:
  • being sent threatening emails
  • being teased or made fun of online
  • having rumours spread about you online
  • having unpleasant comments, pictures or videos about you sent or posted on websites (e.g. Twitter, Facebook)
  • being sent unwanted message
  • having someone use your screen name or password and pretending to be you to hurt someone else
  • being deliberately ignored or left out of things on the internet.
Cyberbullying can happen to anyone. 

What can you do to stop cyberbullying?

If you are being cyberbullied, it is possible that you’re feeling powerless and isolated. But there are options and things you can do to stop the problem.
  • Tell someone 
  • Block the cyberbully  
  • Report the problem 
  • Keep the evidence 
  • Change your contact details 
  • Keep your username and passwords secret 
  • If messages are threatening or serious, get in touch with legal authorities

How can you be a supportive bystander?
Bystanders can be either part of the bullying problem or an important part of the solution to stop bullying. Just as we have human rights we also have responsibilities to respect and protect the rights of others. A supportive bystander will take action to protect the rights of others. A supportive bystander will use words and/or actions that can help someone who is being bullied. 
There is no one size fits all approach to being a supportive bystander.  For supportive bystanders to take safe and effective action here are some suggestions: 
  • Make it clear to your friends that you won’t be involved in bullying behaviour
  • Never stand by and watch or encourage bullying behaviour
  • Do not harass, tease or spread gossip about others, this includes on social networking sites like Facebook 
  • Never forward on or respond to messages or photos that may be offensive or upsetting
  • Support the person who is being bullied to ask for help e.g. go with them to a place they can get help or provide them with information about where to go for help
  • Report it to someone in authority or someone you trust e.g. at school to a teacher, or a school counsellor; at work to a manager; if the bullying is serious, report it to the police; if the bullying occurs on Facebook, report it to Facebook.

Get Help
If you have been bullied or witnessed others been bullied and need help contact:
Kids Help Line (1800 55 1800) is a free and confidential, telephone counseling service for 5 to 25 year olds in Australia. http://www.kidshelp.com.au/
Lifeline (13 11 14) is a free and confidential service staffed by trained telephone counsellors. http://www.lifeline.org.au
The Australian Human Rights Commission (1300 656 419) has a complaint handling service that may investigate complaints of discrimination, harassment and bullying http://www.humanrights.gov.au/complaints_information/index.html
Reach Out is an online community for young people that can help with mental health and wellbeing related issues they also provide opportunities for connecting with young people. http://au.reachout.com

Getting legal advice

You can seek legal advice. Fixing the problem yourself is probably going to be quicker and make you feel better. But sometimes if nothing else seems to work the law can help. In many cases people engaging in cyber-bullying can be sued for defamation and can be sued for inflicting emotional distress. They may also be charged with various computer crimes. Receiving a letter from a solicitor or a query from police will often bring an end to the bullying and bring parents (and schools) into line by encouraging them to take complaints seriously and more closely supervise the activity of bullies.
Some good websites which deal with cyber bullying

The Armour of God

To conclude, I'd like to encourage you with this last bit of verse from the book of Ephesians 6:10-18: "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people."

  • Youth Beyond Bluehttp://www.youthbeyondblue.com/factsheets-and-info/fact-sheet-23-cyberbullying/
  • Australian Human Rights Commissionhttp://www.humanrights.gov.au/what-you-can-do-stop-bullies-be-supportive-bystander-violence-harassment-and-bullying-fact-sheet
  • Law Stuff-- Know Your Rights: http://www.lawstuff.org.au/qld_law/topics/bullying/cyber-bullying

Some videos to give further insight on the issue of cyberbullying:

World Teacher's Day

Today is World Teachers' Day. It was very inspiring stumbling across this Ted X talk. Imagine a country where girls must sneak out to go to school, with deadly consequences if they get caught learning. This was Afghanistan under the Taliban, and traces of that danger remain today. 22-year-old Shabana Basij-Rasikh runs a school for girls in Afghanistan. She celebrates the power of a family's decision to believe in their daughters -- and tells the story of one brave father who stood up to local threats. (Filmed at TEDxWomen)

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Recently I went camping with some mates to Girraween National Park; a beautiful place with some unexpected, gorgeous scenery :) We spent two days in the quiet place, meditating upon what the Lord would have of us in the season to come. It was great reflection time, and also a time of walking, mountain climbing, creek swimming, "golf-soccer" (a game we invented where we used a soccer ball instead of a golf ball, and used one of our shirts as the target; and some 'ceremonial sticks' to stop the ball rolling, as we were playing on a sloped piece of land), stargazing, kangaroo and wildflower viewing, etc., good times :)

Such a pleasant time away with great company. Really loved the time to spend meditating upon the Bible and being encouraged and challenged by mates in faith. I have some precious memories from the trip that I will keep in my heart for a long time. The clear starlit sky; the calm winds; clear air; God revealing himself in so many beautiful ways.

Scribbled pieces in my journal at bedtime too, or rather, 'tent-time':

Camping Meditation (1)

God, like two towering oak trees,
You reveal yourself to me—
underneath the tent, but still
visible in prayer—
You whisper the calmest of all psalms
it is the whisper and hushing of leaves
past my senses—You like two oak trees—
shaped like a love-heart meadow,
committed to the sky.

Camping Meditation (2)

A water well lapses and speaks of its own purity. Yet the crescent moon can even carve the mossiest edges of your form. You God are the protector—I have been searching endlessly for You. When all You were was the wind in the trees, the darting of the words that penetrate me from your holy books—your scripture Lord, exalt! Praise! It is You who has known me before I was born in the womb of generations past that will continue through the generations to come; effervescent—as the countless stars at night, you are there always. When I say it is dark, You command the night away—the carved bones of the mountain has poured its many established boulders over the years—but you evolve into something greater—a fossil of my testimony for You that any forbearers will go onto the generations time upon time, that when the Earth changes its many lapping currents through my intermittent veins, those churning estuaries will still speak of transparency, that I may join You in the many inclinations of salt and light. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Where Would We Be Without Your Love?

This is pretty cool :) Gary Ablett Jnr talks about God on Footy Show.

James 5:16 "Confess your faults to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much".

Psalms 4:1 "Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: you have enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy on me, and hear my prayer".

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Queensland Poetry Festival

Hi everyone, first of all, just wanted to say a huge thank you to all who come visit my blog. It's a true pleasure to be learning both with you and from you. Life can get busy heaps, but I think it is always important to keep God as the focus, as despite whatever difficulties we would be facing, God is always there; just be open to His grace. 
This coming weekend, I have been humbly invited to perform some poetry readings at the Queensland Poetry Festival. It would be a true delight and pleasure to have you come join if you can. 

Below is an interview with one of the Queensland Poetry Festival committee members. 

Interview: Vuong Pham

Vuong Pham is a Brisbane-based teacher and poet. His first collection of poems,Refugee Prayer, was released in April 2013. Vuong particularly enjoys writing haiku and poetry inspired by God. Vuong blogs at versesoftheinnerself.blogspot.com.au.
Catch Vuong @ QPF 2013 in Language of Light (Sun 25 August, 11am)
Your debut collection, Brisbane New Voices IV – Refugee Prayer has already been a smash hit with Brisbane audiences and your blog posts also indicate continued success with haiku publications and public installations.  So what are you working on at the moment?
Thanks Cindy, Refugee Prayer has been a true pleasure to share with the Brisbane community. I’m currently working on my first haiku book. I have written about 90 solid haiku lined up into my manuscript. In my research of the number of haiku a standard haiku book has, the range is somewhere between 60 to 100 haiku are a good number. Anything less than 60 is too lacking, anything more than 100 is too daunting. By the time I compile the book into a narrative flow, my ‘solid 90 haiku’ will no doubt be condensed to about 70, when I weed out the haiku with a similar theme. For example, I wouldn’t include 5 haiku about the moon in the book; they’d be too similar. So at the moment, I am still generating more and more haiku to fit into the book. And in terms of my options for publication, I have the interest of a respected U.K. haiku publisher, and I was also considering the option of having illustrations in the book, that could add some charm.
I believe you are regular slam poet?  What do you like most about poetry slams and performing your work live?
I like to attend the occasional poetry slam. What I like most about performing in slams and performing live is my haiku. Revealing a moment of pure beauty through haiku is a very satisfying and refreshing feeling. I know it is an under-practiced art, especially in the performance poetry scene, so I like to promote it as a vibrant form (that can shine from the page and into the stage) through tailoring my haiku in a way that has a narrative flow and incorporates audience engagement and humour.
Throughout my years of performing haiku at events, I’m finding people often approach me after the show to congratulate me and mention that I have changed their perception of haiku. My understanding is that haiku is stereotyped as a 5-7-5 syllable constrained poem that only scratches the surface of one’s imagination, and is tailored for the page. So it’s the aspect of challenging stereotypes and surprising audiences that I enjoy. I remember once hearing a Bush poet perform at the Queensland Writer’s Centre, and I must admit, my first thought was “okay, here’s another boring bush poet with a predictable set of rhymes”. Yet, it was one of the most entertaining and funny poems I’ve ever heard performed. The audience loved it and erupted in applause. So we can all take a lesson from this: to challenge stereotypes.
As a lover of poetry and a teacher, what poets do you think all students should be aware of and why?
Speaking of lessons, I think students should be aware of the poets: Basho and Rumi. Basho is a minimalist; his poetry says so much more than what is written in the poem and encourages you to expand your imagination. Example:
my house burnt down
now I can better see
the rising moon
We’re seeing the images of a burnt down house, a rising moon and the poet in the midst of it all. But it says so much more: he’s a positive person, he values nature over man-made things, and that there is ‘life’ after ‘death’. Students will be better off to know Basho’s poetry as it is important to be positive, and find the positives in negative situations, otherwise, it can be dangerous to be caught in a continuous negative thinking loop—which can lead to problematic issues like depression, suicide and so on. Also, haiku is a nature-based art form, and to be writing haiku encourages students to go outside and enjoy the natural world as opposed to watching TV or playing video games, which can be a distraction to their personal development.
As for Rumi, his poetry is very spiritual and encouraging. Students can get a lot of wisdom and spirit from reading his works. Example:
Knock, and He’ll open the door
Vanish, and He’ll make you shine like the sun
Fall, and He’ll raise you to the heavens
Become nothing, and He’ll turn you into everything.
Rumi is speaking of the strength and life God has to offer, even when we are at our lowest, God can take away our burdens and raise us up to shine like the sun.
Can you share a poem with us?
I’ll share some haiku:
SEX billboard
more aroused by the cheap
petrol price
half moon
the way light fills
last night’s rain
keeps a jasmine petal
on the birdbath
door curtain billows…
an angel enters
into my book
searching for truth—
a loose page from the Bible
lifts in the breeze

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Newest Haiku Compilation courtesy of my students :)

beauty of a garden
smell of wet grass
mansion holding off storm


nothing but wind
blows through
the forest


brown slide
sliding down



Tristen (nice one-word haiku!)

wind slowly moves
with canopy leaves
in the reflected water


rocky pathways
so many directions
follow the riverbank


reflection in every mirror
victory awaited a long time
for the logan brothers


my friends and I play
at school, we hear
the chairs as always


i see everyone having fun
i smell all different food
i hear the rhythm of the waves


trees grow high above
the animals are fearsome
the flowers smell beautiful


apple in the high tree plopping that way and this way

Seema (nice one-line haiku!)

my best haiku is a rainbow beach


glistening sparkles
follow down
the stream


a bird taking off
to survive where
the sun is setting


waves crashing
and smashing
till they reach the shore


the blue water
swimming in a pond
dripping from mountains


juicy fruits
fall to the ground
as the breeze passes


trees swaying
back and forth
to the winter breeze


the fluffy
clouds going
gracefully by


lily roses
in crystal clear water
through the bridge


I look at my reflection
I swish my hand in the water
now I'm gone again


rough hard rocks
lots of soft dirt
and lots of minute twigs


sweet aroma
within the
sunny yard


your heart is darker
than black hills
his is brighter than day


in the winter the sun sat quietly


the rays of the sun
is going


the stars float
through the sky
and shine on me

the moon shines
through the faint
soft clouds


people invited to a
very big excursion when
they are a very famous writer


on the rainforest pond
each bird and frog
fly and jump on the sun


the sun shine the
sand so shiny
and makes it beautiful


beautiful sun
on grass


hear piano play
like little birds
and trees


the moon and stars
stay stiff and still
when no breeze comes


I slowly
walk home
in the summer nights


the waves crash on the shore
with some terror bluebottles
and the dolphins play along


stiff as steel
the winter
trees stand


crashes on the


people walk
pick shell
swimming in deep water


boats rowing
up and down
in the sea


as i walked
i noticed that
no footprints follow


rain shatters
on my face
as I start to cry


wind carrying leaves
come take me
far ahead


I jump
pool waves
mimic the ocean


beautiful fish
in glaring pond


the beautiful
sun melts on
the sea pan


Monday, July 22, 2013

"What Lies between Earth and Sky: Why we must question the reason why we try" -- a poem by Bulukani Mlalazi

Here at Verses Of The Inner Self, we're all about encouraging each other and blessing each other through faith. I was incredibly pleased and uplifted to know Bulu, my mate from church, had been in the process of writing his own poetry inspired by God as he was walking across a bridge one day. "The inspiration of words just came to me in an instant, and then I started to edit the poem in bits and pieces". Bulu said. "Yeah", I nodded, "That's how a lot of poetry is written mate, they can be precious things, and they need careful crafting". I think it's just amazing how God can drop flashes of inspiration into your head in unexpected ways. I think the essence of this poem is really genuine and uplifting, and I have no doubt that people can learn a lot from these wise words Bulu has crafted in his poem, "What Lies between Earth and Sky: Why we must question the reasons why we try". In a world full of distractions, one can get caught into the business of society, work commitments, all these worldly things that we oft depend; yet, they are exactly that, a distraction from God's eternal love. We must not forget that we are citizens of heaven, not to get caught into the sins of the world, that we may seek 'those precious gifts from above' that fills our lives with true joy.

I recently had been going through an experience like this, that Bulu had captured in the poem below. Over the last month, or two, I had been so focused on getting my second book done, I had lost the unending love and grace that God had on offer to me. That month was spent entirely writing and not socialising with God's people, though the manuscript was completed in time, I had really missed companionship and had gone through a stage of spiritual dryness. Safe to say, I feel as though I have become a lot closer to God's presence over the last few weeks, as I have enjoyed the company of many of God's children whether it be in camps, chatting with friends over coffee, at church, etc. I'm ready to feel your awesome and eternal love again God :)

Thank you for your wise words Bulu, I truly feel blessed to have read this piece, and I'm sure many others will appreciate it too!

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever" Psalms 107:1