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Reviews - Endorsements

Writing | Performances | Educator


For One Thousand Minds Brimming: poems & art

“Mong-Lan’s poems are fresh and real as a street, full of the seriousness of pleasure. She has the same sense of joy that Kenneth Koch loved in the courage to sing, happiness of St.-John Perse. The courage of Frank O’Hara who said that the smallest idea in one's own head was better than an old idea in some other brain. The wars and horrors of wars are here, but even disasters and disappearance doesn't stop the poet from celebrating lemons and vegetables I do not know. The Chinese speak of the three perfections: poetry, painting and calligraphy. But Mong-Lan speaks of the great imperfections that are better for being so. Her poems are full of the bright primaries of her brushstrokes. . . . I praise these poems of praise which collapse distance and makes us feel, as O’Hara seemed to say, poetry is just a telephone call away.”—David Shapiro

On Tango, Tangoing: Poems & Art (Tango, Tangueando: Poemas & Dibujos)

"A mesmerizing accomplishment - four voices at their climax: the dance, if we can call it that, the physics of being, the history and manual of dark beauty and the voleos of line, ink, stanza and voice, layers of loss, desire and the body in ecstatic explosions. Three drops of Lorca, one tincture of María Luisa Bombal and a full vasija of Mong-Lan, a masterpiece, señores y señoras.
A mathematics of fire."
-- Juan Felipe Herrera, U.S. Poet Laureate

" . . . . That Mong-Lan succeeds at such an ambitious project in writing that is visually striking, musically complex, unabashedly erotic and deeply intelligent, is testimony to her very great poetic talents. This is a marvelous book, one I’ll return to again and again.”—Kevin Prufer



"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


Mong-Lan at PEN, poet writer artist educator







" . . . Mong-Lan’s strength of line, her ability to display an erotic sense of humor—or perhaps a humorous sense of the erotic—and her awareness of the universal nuance of various cultural icons and ironies make her a modern poet to be reckoned with.”—Metropolis, Tokyo, Japan.

"Mong-Lan's Why Is The Edge Always Windy? is a stunning book that turns our 'era of exile' into one of lyric possession, the impulses to lament and to praise whirling together into a bittersweet music. I'm amazed at how these poems hold the complexity and contradiction of a global world view that spans from Hanoi to New York, from Chiapas to San Francisco, while still striking notes of intimacy and making formally beautiful sense.”—Alison Hawthorne Deming.

Why Is The Edge Always Windy?

" . . . In these poems, the styles of Walt, the good gray poet and e. e. are reused, recreated with a femmin(ist/ine) (land/mind)scape of emotion and sensibility that is all Mong-Lan's own—bringing together Paris, San Francisco, Ha Noi, Switzerland, and New York in a much-needed global synthesis and symbiosis.”—Vince Gotera, North American Review

"Despite the long engagement between Vietnam and the West, in the throes and in the aftermath of war, there have not yet been many literary consequences, at least in English. . . . The work of the Vietnamese-American poet Mong-Lan may be viewed as a useful exploration of this uneasy territory.”—David Burleigh, The Japan Times.

For Song of the Cicadas, Juniper Prize Winner, UMASS Press

" . . . . We sense that she . . . values what she brings from her adoptive culture–a new language, a new aesthetic, and the conviction that a woman artist has special insights to offer on the subject of armed conflict and its aftermath. From visual beauty, human suffering, and verbal inventiveness, Mông-Lan stakes out a poetic territory that is completely her own.”—Alfred Corn

"Welcome to a poetic voice that represents no less than a manifestation of soul. In Mông-Lan’s debut book, she has taken on the daunting responsibility of representing the Vietnamese nation and culture, via imagery, consciousness, and memory. Hers is a stunning experiment and a historical imperative.”—Jane Miller

" . . . Song of the Cicadas won the Juniper Prize for a first collection of poetry. Given the breadth of her work and her highly descriptive voice, Mong-Lan will surely make more waves in the world of American letters.”—ForeWord Magazine.


Mong-Lan at Beyond Baroque

Mong-Lan performing at Beyond Baroque,
Venice Beach, CA, 2015.
Photo thanks to David Hauser.



"I want to again tell you how incredibly grateful we are to have you perform at UC Davis. The students could not stop talking about you! In fact, you're such an inspiration that Asian American Studies is about to start its own social dance club."
--Prof. Caroline Kieu Linh Valverde, Univ of California at Davis, Oct 2015

"Mong-Lan is an extremely multitalented artist bridging not only various arts but various artistic styles.  I most recently saw her read and perform her music at an evening dedicated to the Beat Poets of San Francisco that was held at the Beat Museum.  It was an incredible event.”—Dr. Marla Lowenthal, Univ of San Francisco, 2016.

"Mong-Lan's tango was one of the most magical events at my 1st year at AAWW.”—Ken Chen, Director, Asian American Writer's Workshop, New York City."

" . . . A crowd favorite . . . Mong-Lan's muted Vietnam poems . . . .”—San Francisco Chronicle.

On winning the Grand Poetry Slam at the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival, in Bali: "It was perhaps no surprise that love was the winner for the evening: . . . Mong Lan with her obsessive serial affairs with food, even spinach: Your large/dark-green juicy/edible leaves are beacons/sending tremors through my body.”—The Jakarta Post


"Extraordinarily gifted.”—Matty Selman, NYC-based performing artist.


"Although she was only 5 when, with her family, she was evacuated from Saigon, Mong-Lan thinks the events of war and suffering in her early life traumatized her. Thirty years later, critics find in her poetry 'the tectonic force of history, beauty and despair.' Poetry, giving release to her emotions, is only one of Mong-Lan’s disciplines. She is acclaimed also as a writer, painter and photographer, and a dancer of the tango. . . . She will read from her published work at a special event, . . . at The Pink Cow in Shibuya, Tokyo.” —Vivienne Kenrick, The Japan Times.

"Poet, artist, singer, tango dancer, and general creative dynamo Mong-Lan . . .”
Press Street, New Orleans.

Mong-Lan, Argentine Tango

Giving a reading and talk, performing tangos
at University of California at Davis, 2015

Mong-Lan Tango


"Ms. Mong-Lan has been exploring the interrelatedness of the arts as the first
resident writer-artist at the Dallas Museum of Art. A Juniper Prize-winner
for Song of the Cicadas, the Vietnamese-born author has her photos and her bright, abstract paintings on display at the DMA. When she can, she says, she likes to combine her visual work with her poems in readings – aware that the media have their own methods.”—Dallas Morning News




"I first was introduced to Mong-Lan by a colleague who was familiar with her work.  I was so impressed, I invited her to the college where I was teaching at the time, Menlo College in Atherton, California, to read her poetry, discuss her visual artwork, and give a presentation of Argentine tango dance. The evening was such a success that I was able to invite her back the next year.”—Dr. Marla Lowenthal, Univ of San Francisco.


"Mong-Lan’s expertise across artistic disciplines was on display in her week at St. Paul’s, where she taught tango to dance students, worked with members of the SPS Ballet Company at the dance studio, taught drawing in Hargate, creative writing in the Freeman Center, poetry in Memorial Hall, and gave a writing workshop to adults in the community. On one afternoon, she taught an intermediate ballet class to tango while also teaching a painting class to draw the dancers in a Japanese brush-painting style. 'The most interesting thing about her is how she crosses over into different arts – it’s a great model,' said Arts Division Head Ian Torney. 'It’s very contemporary and good for our students to see.'"--(read full article here) St. Paul's School, Concord, NH.


On Mong-Lan's Writing Workshops:


"Loved it! Got me fired up to write -- write -- and not hold back."


"Class moved to where we were. Lots of interaction!! Loved it! Definitely recommended!"


"Well-thought out, clearly presented, organized. Fun and interesting!"




Mong-Lan at Dallas Museum of Art

Mong-Lan teaches students writing & art in front of her painting exhibition,
Dallas Museum of Art.


Mong-Lan at St. Paul's

Teaching students Japanese brush technique, St. Paul's School, Concord, NH.


Writing & the Visual Arts

"Class is more interactive and forces me to draw / paint and write drafts of poems and even revise one of the drafts . . . I liked best the variety of contemporary poems and the challenge to evaluate their forms. . . . Definitely recommended!"--Lewis Garvin, former teacher and workshop participant, The Jung Center of Houston.


Writing & Dance

"When Mong-Lan came to teach 'Make the Words Dance' a multi-disciplinary workshop focused on writing and movement, we didn't know what to expect, but we knew it would be different and interesting. It turned out to be an extraordinary workshop, which led students to understand important and key writing concepts, delve into and question their artistic goals, think deeply about their lives and how they write. . . We've had some great feedback and look forward to working with her again . . . . "--Jason Bayani, Artistic Director, Kearny Street Workshop, San Francisco.

  More References available upon request

Mong-Lan at St. Paul's teaching Tango

Mong-Lan teaches tango to the St. Paul's School Ballet Company.


Buy Autographed copies of Mong-Lan's Books / Chapbooks

Tangos | Jazz Piano CDs


Copyright 2001-2020 by Mong-Lan. All rights reserved. Website created by Mong-Lan. Please respect the fact that all artwork, writing, poetry, and music (except where indicated), on this website are copyrighted by Mong-Lan. It may not be stored, displayed, published, reproduced, without her written permission.