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Books | Poetry | Prose: Fiction - Essays | Interviews | Videos

[Dusk Aflame: poems & art] [One Thousand Minds Brimming] [ Tango, Tangoing: Poetry & Art ][Tango Tangueando: poemas & dibujos] [Song of the Cicadas] Why is the Edge Always Windy? ]Vietnamese Translations ] Japanese Translations ][Publications]

Mong-Lan's writing ranges from poetry, to fiction, to essays. She has won prizes such as the Pushcart Prize, the Juniper Prize, the Great Lakes Colleges Association’s New Writers Awards for Poetry, among others, and has been widely anthologized, including in the Best American Poetry Anthology, The Pushcart Book of Poetry: Best Poems from 30 Years of the Pushcart Prize, the Norton Anthology of Contemporary Poetry (Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia and Beyond), and other national and international anthologies.

Mong-Lan has published seven books of poems & artwork, and three chapbooks. In addition to writing poetry and essays, she has finished a novel, with an excerpt in the North American Review.


Mong-Lan's poems beautifully reflect the displacement of her life and that of countless others with refugee experiences, constructing a new identity.  Along with her family, she left her native Viet Nam on the last day of the evacuation of Sai Gon. Educated in the United States, she returned to Viet Nam for the first time in 1995 when it opened its doors to the West. She traveled from north to south, Ha Noi to Ha Tien, by train, bus, and motorcycle.  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 war or 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. 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. Mong-Lan's latest collection is Dusk Aflame: poems & art and the chapbook, Tone of Water in a Half-Filled Glass. See below.

Books & Chapbooks

Available from your nearest bookseller, from on-line booksellers such as Barnes & Nobles, Amazon or buy autographed copies directly from Mong-Lan =>

Some of the links below lead to other book pages on this website. Others are paid links--as an Amazon Associate, earning from qualifying purchases.
Buy Mong-Lan's Books / Chapbooks / T-shirts
#AWP20 San Antonio T-shirts

Mong-Lan t-shirt

"The Mong-Lan #AWP20 T-shirts, my design which was a finalist. I've decide to print them, limited edition. Buy them here! The Alamo, a symbol of resistance and victory in Texas. The horseman holds an old fashioned ink pen for spear, or bayonet. The light post is also a pen, the pen as light. And, the longhorn, I thought was so cute.) I've had my artwork, drawings, and paintings exhibited in galleries and museums in the U.S. and in public exhibitions internationally."



Mong-Lan poetry Dusk Aflame: poems & art



Dusk Aflame: poems & art

January 2018

ISBN-13: 9780982822746
Valiant Press
Pages: 134
of poems & artwork, by the author

Mong-Lan's new 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. Read more about about the book here.



Mong-Lan poetry Tone of Water in a Half-Filled Glass



Tone of Water in a Half-Filled Glass


May 2018

ISBN: 978-0-921053-18-7
chapbook, 29 pages

cover photo and design by Mong-Lan

Foothills Publishing


Mong-Lan, One Thousand Minds Brimming: poems & art




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.

Read more here about One Thousand Minds Brimming: poems & art

Buy from Barnes & Nobles or



Love Poem to Ginger poetry & paintings 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

Buy at Barnes & Noble or!



Force of the Heart: Tango, Art by Mong-Lan

Force of the Heart: Tango, Art, contains drawings, paintings and a poem, all based on the passionate Argentine tango.

Mong-Lan once again brings us her tango art, full of sensuality, vigor and loveliness. Based in Buenos Aires, Mong-Lan shares with us her tango vision, a world of lines, flowing bodies in motion. A world of great heart, a blossoming love, and a ision all her own. Reminiscent of Picasso, Matisse, and the great artists of this century, Mong-Lan's pen and inks on paper are like performance pieces on the page, a moment captured. Floating, yet grounded in a ferocity of the mind along with Mong-Lan's impeccable technique of the hand and eye, the dancers tango in a centrifugal force of the heart.

Buy at Barnes & Noble or now

Read more about Force of the Heart: Tango, Art

Valiant Press (December 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0982822707
ISBN-13: 978-0982822708

Tango, Tangoing: poems & art by Mong-Lan

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

Finalist, National Poetry Series, 2007.

"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, Tangoing: Poems & Art
Poetry and pen & ink drawings of tango dancers and by Mong-Lan
Valiant Press, Spring 2008
Available in major bookstores, at
ISBN: 978-0-6151-8800-3

Read more about Tango, Tangoing: Poems & Art


Tango, Tangueando:  Poemas & Dibujos

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

Edición bilingüe español-inglés--- Bilingual Spanish-English edition
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

Lee más sobre Tango, Tangueando: Poemas & Dibujos


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

Finalist for the Tupelo Press Dorset Prize, Paris Review Prize in Poetry, Sawtooth Poetry Prize, and the Open Book Award.


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

" . . . 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

Read more here about Why Is The Edge Always Windy?


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

Read more here about Song of the Cicadas






Buy Mong-Lan's Books / Chapbooks




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






Poetry: Links to other Poems on the web by Mong-Lan


Prose: Fiction & Essays



"Award Winning Poet Mong-Lan's artistic journey from Saigon to Buenos Aires to APAP"--January 2017, New York City.

Interview with Mong-Lan, host Charlie Rossiter's podcast, "Poetry Spoken Here," Episode #022, May 2016.

Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, "Proust Questionnaire: 17 Questions with Mong-Lan," 1-2016.

Interview, Mong-Lan's teaching crosses genres, writing, visual arts and tango: "Tango Comes to St. Paul's," Feb 2011.

Article in The Wall Street Journal in which she fights against tango discrimination in Buenos Aires: "It Takes Two to Tango, As Long as You're Argentine." July 20, 2011

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

Pampero, "Argentina, Tango y Vietnam?" Casa Argentina de Houston, 2009. In Spanish.

"Faces & Places: Q & A," Metropolis, Japan, March 2006.

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

Interview, Hi Magazine, September 2005. (not online)

Asian America Press Interviews Mong-Lan, October 2005.

University of Maryland University College, FYI Online, November, 2002:  Mong-Lan's Artistic Career. (not online)

V Magazine interviews Mong-Lan, 2002.

"Tracing the landscape with words," by Nhien Nguyen, International Examiner, Asian American Journal, Volume 28, Number 20, October 17-November 6, 2001.  Interview in Vietnamese, 2001


The Interview Hour,, September 2001, not online.






"Love Poem to Cafe au Lait," poetry recital with jazz piano, live performance, at La Guagua Poetry Festival, Lowell, MA, 2017.


Mong-Lan reads her poetry and prose at Eastwind Books of Berkeley, California, April 2013. Part 1.

  • Mong-Lan reads at Stanford University, California, April 2012.
  • Fusion of Mong-Lan's poetry (from Tango, Tangoing: Poems & Art, the bilingual edition); her large paintings; and a tango dance performance with the celebrated Pampa Cortes of Forever Tango.

  • 2009 Buenos Aires International Book Fair -- La Fería del libro de Buenos Aires: Mong-Lan reads from Tango, Tangoing: Poems & Art (Tango, Tangueando: Poemas & Dibujos). Invited by the American Embassy in Buenos Aires.


    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.