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Poetry | Fiction | Essays | Interviews

Mong-Lan's writing ranges from poetry, to fiction, to essays. Her writing has won the Pushcart Prize, the Juniper Prize for Poetry, and has been included in the Best American Poetry Anthology (2002, edited by Robert Creeley), The Pushcart Book of Poetry: Best Poems from 30 Years of the Pushcart Prize, and other national and international anthologies, such as the Norton Anthology of Contemporary Poetry (Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia and Beyond).

In addition to writing poetry and essays, she has finished a novel, with an excerpt currently in the North American Review. Mong-Lan reading in NYC


Mong-Lan's poems beautifully reflect the displacement of her life and that of countless others with refugee experiences, constructing a new identity.  Born in Viet Nam, along with her family, she evacuated from her beloved Sai Gon one day before its fall (or liberation).  Having been educated in the United States, she returned to Viet Nam for the first time in 1995.  She traveled from north to south, Ha Noi to Ha Tien.  The journeys she depicts in poetry are long and winding, the words, terse and spare.  Her poems often deal with the struggle of constructing an identity for oneself through language, using language to sift through and sculpt the layers of being and consciousness.  She writes of the new Viet Nam, after it opened its doors to the world in the '90s: Ha Noi, the capital, and Sai Gon, or officially called Ho Chi Minh City.  Whether writing of the war or of love, she sings directly to the heart.  Her later extended experiences from living and traveling in numerous countries such as Argentina, Mexico, France, Switzerland, Indonesia, Thailand, and Japan, form the fabric from which many of her poems draw lyrical and artistic inspiration. Her books, Tango, Tangoing: Poems & Art (and the bilingual Spanish / English edition, Tango, Tangueando: Poemas & Dibujos) reveal and illuminate her love of and passion for the Argentine tango. Her latest book, One Thousand Minds Brimming: poems & art, is a culmination of ten years of work, poetry & visual art that encompasses many of her travels and modes of existence in Asia and elsewhere, exploring also her personal ancestral history of war-time Viet Nam.


Books & Chapbooks



Forthcoming book of poems & artwork:

Dusk Aflame: Odes & Elegies, January 2018

One Thousand Minds Brimming by Mong-Lan

Purchase the book now at your bookseller or at . A link is below to buy personally autographed copies.


One Thousand Minds Brimming:
poems & art

ISBN-10: 0982822723
ISBN-13: 978-0-9828227-2-2
Pub date: September 2014
155 pages, 42 drawings-paintings by the artist / poet
Valiant Press

". . . 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.

“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. . . . 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.

" . . . 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.

"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.”—The Japan Times.

One Thousand Minds Brimming includes Mong-Lan's two previous chapbooks,

Love Poem to Ginger by Mong-Lan


An alluring gem of a chapbook, Love Poem to Ginger & Other Poems: poetry & paintings follows Mong-Lan's much-lauded Love Poem to Tofu & Other Poems. An absolute treasure tapestry of poems and paintings, this pocket-sized edition calls joy by its true name and makes pleasure an art.

An alluring gem of a chapbook, Love Poem to Ginger & Other Poems: poetry & paintings follows Mong-Lan's much-lauded Love Poem to Tofu & Other Poems. An absolute treasure tapestry of poems and paintings, this pocket-sized edition calls joy by its true name and makes pleasure an 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 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

Valiant Press (March 31, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0982822715
ISBN-13: 978-0982822715

A link is above to buy personally autographed copies.

Buy at Barnes & Noble or!

Tango, Tangoing by Mong-Lan

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

"Ms. Lan came to live in Buenos Aires . . . , and does acrylic paintings of long-legged dancers, . . . singing melancholy lyrics and has published a book of verse on tango.”—The Wall Street Journal.

"Tango, Tangoing and Love Poem to Tofu and Other Poems both engage with the use of strong, fluid brushstrokes reminiscent of Chinese calligraphy. The conversation between Western-style poetry and the visual aspects borrowed from a traditional Asian form of poetic expression is truly fascinating."--Lantern Review, Asian American Poetry Unbound.
Tango, Tangueando:  Poemas & Dibujos

Edición bilingüe español-inglés--- Bilingual Spanish-English edition
Tango, Tangueando: Poemas & Dibujos (Tango, Tangoing: Poems & Art)

ISBN: 978-0-578-03361-7
200 páginas
Valiant Press, Septiembre 2009

Bienvenidos al tango, sensual, escurridizo, y seductor. En Tango, Tangueando: Poemas y Dibujos, Mong-Lan extiende una invitación a explorar el sensual mundo de tango argentino a través de la poesía y el arte. Su impactante poesía y sus elegantes dibujos a pincel y tinta de bailarines de tango argentino iluminan y revelan este mundo de una manera original que cautiva e intriga, y nos deja “sin aliento por sus apasionadas creaciones y por la intensidad de las imágenes.” Poeta galardonada, artista visual, bailarina y profesora de tango argentino, Mong-Lan combina sus talentos y conocimiento en un libro bello y luminoso. Entre sus galardones se cuentan el Premio Juniper, una beca Fulbright, una beca Stegner para la Universidad de Stanford, la inclusión en las antologías Best American Poetry y Pushcart Prize. Sus obras de arte han sido expuestas en el Capitolio en Washington D.C., en el museo de Bellas Artes de Dallas, en el museo de Bellas Artes de Houston, en galerías en los Estados Unidos y en exposiciones públicas en Buenos Aires, Bali, Bangkok, Seúl y Tokio. 

Watch: VIDEO of Mong-Lan reading in English and Spanish


Love Poem to Tofu by Mong-Lan

Love Poem to Tofu & Other Poems
Chapbook of poetry & calligraphic art by Mong-Lan
Valiant Press, September, 2007.
ISBN: 978-0-6151-4656-0

In this highly unusual chapbook, memorable poetry and beautiful calligraphic art are married to exquisite tastes. One immediately identifies with Mong-Lan’s poems, while with her calligraphic art, one wishes to linger. And, the tastes remain, even after the pages are closed. Whether Mong-Lan is singing of her love to food or writing of Southeast Asia (particularly Vietnam and Thailand), her poetry is quick-witted, humorous, vibrant , intoxicating and worldly. One sips the words slowly, imbibes to smell, not only to taste; then to devour wholeheartedly of what the soul sings.

Why is the Edge Always Windy? by Mong-Lan

Why Is The Edge Always Windy?

Published by Tupelo Press, 2005
ISBN:  1932195289


Poetry, sketches, calligraphy, cover painting, and photo in book by Mong-Lan

A link is below to buy personally autographed copies.

Or purchase the book now at your bookseller,, or Tupelo Press.

"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.

" . . . Mong-Lan's epic 'Trail': "what is the remedy for momentum for mania for a deciduous heart?" These and many other poems here will challenge readers to find their own remedies.”—Publisher's Weekly

"Is the edge the country of Mong-Lan's birth, Vietnam? She writes, "Saigon's foot is bound/the city a person with amputated limb/has feet that strain for movement." Perhaps the edge is New York: "ghosts of America roam/land of fast food/joints defined by movement/herds of taxi cabs apartments too expensive to rent." Or San Francisco: "The Golden Gate Bridge from my window/is a red of smothered crabs/cooked in dreamfog/savage-haired/drummers in the park beat on." It is as if, with her careful lines and pauses, Mong-Lan is probing for the answer. And maybe, with the breadth of her images, she is giving us room to ponder the question as well."--The International Examiner.

" . . . 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

Song of the Cicadas by Mong-Lan

Song of the Cicadas, Juniper Prize Winner, UMASS Press

  • Winner of the 2000 Juniper Prize

  • Winner of the 2002 Great Lakes Colleges Association's New Writers Awards for Poetry.

  • Finalist for the Poetry Society of America's Norma Farber First Book Award


    Published by the University of Massachusetts Press, May 2001. 
    ISBN: 1558493077

    Cover photo, cover design, & sketches inside book by Mong-Lan.

  • Purchase the book at your bookseller, or UMASS Press.

    Go to the link on this page to buy personally autographed copies.

"Those who seek ethnography, good travel writing, vivid phrases or durable images, . . . will find much of this debut a worthwhile trip."--Publisher's Weekly.

" . . . 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.

"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








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

Tangos | Jazz Piano CDs



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










"Life & Poetry," Crossroads, Poetry Society of America, 2005.

















"A Conversation with Mong-Lan," Lantern Review, Asian American Poetry Unbound, 2010.

"Mong-Lan: Life," The Japan Times, 2006.









More References available upon request    

Copyright © 2001-2016  by Mong-Lan. All rights reserved.  Website created by Mong-Lan. Please respect the fact that all artwork and writing (except where indicated) and poetry on this website are copyrighted by Mong-Lan. It may not be stored, displayed, published, reproduced, without her written permission.