134 pages of poems & artwork
Tone of Water in a Half-Filled Glass
May 2018, Foothills Publishing
Mong-Lan, writer, former Stegner Fellow at Stanford Univ, Fulbright Scholar, has published seven (7) books of poetry & artwork, three (3) chapbooks, has won prizes such as the Juniper Prize and the Pushcart Prize. Poems have been included in numerous anthologies such as Best American Poetry Anthology and various Norton anthologies. She has finished a novel, with an excerpt in the North American Review.
Mong-Lan plays the piano and guitar, sings in six languages, and also composes. Her ten albums of jazz piano and tangos also showcase her poetry.
As a visual artist, Mong-Lan has had her paintings and photographs exhibited in museums such as the Dallas Museum of Art and galleries in the U.S., and in public exhibitions in Tokyo, Seoul, Bangkok, Bali and Buenos Aires.
Mong-Lan as a dancer has studied ballet, jazz and flamenco, and has specialized as an Argentine tango dancer, performer, and teacher, having over twenty years of tango dance experience, in Buenos Aires, San Francisco, New York City, Tokyo, Bangkok, Hanoi, and elsewhere.
From the multiple ends of the earth, the tango is sensual, melancholic, and sublime. Mong-Lan, Vietnamese-born artist, singer and musician, with remarkable dexterity and talent, interprets the tango with deep feeling
as if she were a porteña, from Buenos Aires. With Enrique Santillan, Argentine virtuoso guitarist accompanying her, they form a captivating and memorable duo.
Mong-Lan's seventh collection, Dusk Aflame: poems & art, is a bittersweet melange, a delirium of experiences and memories. Buenos Aires looms large with elegiac, nocturnal footsteps: on the edge of chaos and accidents waiting to happen. Where European majesty once molded lives its dying whimper, is resurrected in Latin American brusqueness in a histrionic city towards the end of the world. Buenos Aires, womb and capital of the tango, a melancholic music and sultry dance created by men and women who felt a need for the embrace. Death aspires to be a character here, and Dusk, too, female, animistic. An elegy for all that exists only in memory. On a lighter note, Mong-Lan continues with her cherished theme--love poems to nourishing delectables, like persimmon, rice, and sesame seed. Dusk Aflame includes odes to the body, to the South, New Orleans, Houston, Galveston, and an island off the coast of Thailand. Jazz in poetry, in rhythm to the syncopations of life, to the tango, all comes together in a voice and world vision that is uniquely Mong-Lan's.
Mong-Lan's lyrical brush and ink paintings accompany her poems in a poetic dance of movement, providing a visual resonance and portent to her work. Her vital virtuoso strokes assume their own characters and lives of their own.
". . . A true original, unafraid of sentiment and at the height of her artistic prowess, Mong-Lan’s new book proves she remains one of our leading poets.”—Ravi Shankar, editor of Drunken Boat.
"Mông-Lan is a remarkably accomplished poet. Always her poems are deft, extremely graceful in the way words move, and in the cadence that carries them. One is moved by the articulate character of ‘things seen,’ the subtle shifting of images, and the quiet intensity of their information. Clearly she is a master of the art." --Robert Creeley
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Background drawing of the Mekong river, in Vinh Long, Vietnam, by Mong-Lan, 1996.
Website created on May 19, 2001. Last modified November 2018.