Mộng Lan, Tangoing with Poetry

A look back to DVAN’s first major event, Vietnamese Poets of the Diaspora, which was apart of the International Poetry Festival in San Francisco, November 8, 2008. Among many of the poet participants, we focus on Mộng Lan, poet and artist.

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Mộng Lan is one of the growing number of talented Vietnamese diasporic poets.  Not only is she a poet, she is a multi-faceted artist — writer, painter, photographer, and tango dancer. As a poet, Mộng Lan has numerous publications, including Song of the Cicadas, an award-winning poetry collection; Why is the Edge Always Windy?; Love Poem to Tofu & Other Poems, a chapbook of poetry and artwork; and the most recent, Tango, Tangoing: Poems & Art, which is also published as a bilingual Spanish-English edition.

Mộng Lan reading at the DVAN's Vietnamese Poets of the Diaspora, 2008. Photo Courtesy of DVAN.

At the Vietnamese Poets of the Diaspora event, Mộng Lan introduces readers into her  new publication, Tango, Tangoing: Poems & Art. Drawing from her five-month stay in Bueno Aires, Mộng Lan brings together the tango, poetry, photography, and painting to give poetry visual and aural dimensions. Experience it here:

Other poets who participated in the DVAN event alongside Mộng Lan were: Ánh Hoà, poet and writer; lê thi diem thúy, a writer whose novel, the gangster we are all looking for, was chosen as San Diego’s “One Book” 2011; Bảo Phi, spoken word artist, whose collection is forthcoming Autumn 2011; Linh Đinh, a prolific writer whose recent works include the collection, Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009), and his first novel, Love Like Hate (2010); Trường Trần, poet.

DVAN Executive Director Isabelle Thuy Pelaud and the six writers featured at DVAN’s “Vietnamese Poets of the Diaspora” on November 8, 2008. Photo courtesy of Thai Anh Nguyen-Khoa/DVAN.

The Vietnamese Poets of the Diaspora event was held in conjunction with the San Francisco International Poetry Festival in 2008. Earlier in April 2010, the second edition, Outspoken: Vietnamese Poets of the Diaspora II, again highlighted the talents of new writers: Anh Vu Buchanan; Andrew Lam, journalist and author of Perfume Dreams and East Eats West; Kim-An Lieberman, poet of the collection, Breaking the Map; Trinh T. Minh-Ha, critic, writer, and filmmaker; Dao Strom, novelist and musician; and Lan Tran, writer and performer.

More information on these two Vietnamese Poets of the Diaspora events and on the participants can be found at DVAN. Also, the diaCRITICS post on Poetry Month April 2011 features many of these poets; read more here.  Others have been interviewed or their work reviewed in diaCRITICS posts; just search, and you’ll find them!

A poet, writer, painter, photographer and tango dance, Mong-Lan graduated with a MFA from the University of Arizona. She received a Wallace E. Stegner Fellowship in poetry at Stanford University and a Fulbright Scholarship to Việt Nam. Her work has been anthologized in Best American Poetry and published in various literary magazines. (website

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