Monday, Nov. 10, 2014

Prize-winning Poet Mong-Lan
Visits University of New Orleans

Prize-winning Poet Mong-Lan Visits University of New OrleansMong-Lan

Poet, visual artist and dancer Mong-Lan was born in Saigon and left Vietnam with her family on the last day of the evacuation of the city in 1975. She was five years old.

Join us!

The UNO Creative Writing Workshop will host a reading by artist and poet Mong-Lan on Wednesday, November 19, at 8 p.m., at the UNO Lakeside Campus, Liberal Arts Building, English Department, Room 201

Click here for a map.

The reading will be followed by a Q&A, booksigning, and brief reception.

The event is free and open to the public.

"That was the first bolt, I think, in terms of my personal being and security," she told the Poetry Society of America. "I began to think differently of the world: it was no longer a safe place; we had to leave for our safety, and were fortunate enough to have been able to come to the U.S.

"I grew into poetry, slowly, from being a visual artist. I didn't speak much as a child in school in the States, but I drew and painted a lot. I started to write after reading a lot of literature. I had very good literature teachers in high school and college, and writing was an extension. My mom initiated me into Vietnamese poetry. She and I would read Vietnamese poems together when she had time late at night."

Today, Mong-Lan is an internationally known poet with many talents: writer, painter, photographer, musician, singer, dancer and teacher of Argentine tango. She is winner of a Pushcart Prize, the Juniper Prize, the Great Lakes Colleges Association's New Writers Awards for Poetry, and other awards. She visits campus next week at the invitation of the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop.

Mong-Lan - who spent her childhood in Houston, has lived in Japan and now divides her time between the U.S. and Argentina - cites American poets who also influenced her. She credits "Wallace Stevens, for his distinctive usage of image and voice; e.e. cummings, for his playfulness on the page and with words; Ann Lauterbach for her bold inventiveness; Lyn Hejinian, for her playful, irreverent use of language; Pablo Neruda and Walt Whitman, for their expansiveness and their treatment of the long poem. And the haiku form—the succinctness and momentary quality of the haiku move me."

Mong-Lan also said her work is influenced by film, painting, photography, theater, dance and music. Mong-Lan's artwork has been exhibited in galleries and museums in the United States and in public exhibitions in Tokyo, Buenos Aires, Bangkok, Seoul and Bali.

Mong-Lan's poetry has been nationally and internationally anthologized in Best American Poetry and The Pushcart Book of Poetry: Best Poems from 30 Years of the Pushcart Prize, as well as Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation and Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond. She is the author of eight books and chapbooks which contain her poetry and artwork. The most recent of these is One Thousand Minds Brimming: Poems & Art.

In Mong-Lan's new collection of poems, she voices desire, love, mayhem and glimpses into her own personal history against a backdrop of past wars in Vietnam and Cambodia. Described as "poignant, indeed heartbreaking," the poems are said to illuminate the spirit.  

Her first book, Song of the Cicadas, is a collection grouped largely around experience of place and experimentation with various forms—experiences from Vietnam, the San Francisco Bay area, Mexico, the American Southwest, and vibrations from those places, she said in an interview with the Poetry Society of America. Her second book, Why Is the Edge Always Windy, "is a deeper meditation on that same thought, with more varied experiments."

"My insights as a visual artist and my experience in dance have helped form my poems as well," she said. "I've written a whole book of poems around Argentine tango, called The Tango Book, unraveling the experience of dancing the tango and the gender issues involved in the dance."

 

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Mong-Lan
Mong-Lan, The Poetry Society of America
Mong-Lan: The Poetry Foundation