Song of the Cicadas


Product Details

$17.95  $16.69
University of Massachusetts Press
Publish Date
6.08 X 9.0 X 0.29 inches | 0.36 pounds
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About the Author

Mông-Lan is a writer, visual artist, and dancer. After the fall of Saigon, she immigrated with her family to America at a young age. She currently is a Wallace E. Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.


"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

"In Asian tradition, poetry and visual art go hand in hand, with the collaboration of work, image, and calligraphy. Mông-Lan's first book renews this tradition for American poetry, and with a startling subject matter. Her poems and drawings dealing with Viet Nam reflect the awe, the anger, and the mourning of the expatriate who returns to the country of her birth. Brilliantly exact observation of people and places here is paradoxical evidence that this land is no longer entirely her own. We sense that she also 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

"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

"'Tide pools wait/ for the stone-eating sea, ' 'children play mindlessly in satellite/ shores, ' a Vietnamese 'dialect is a giddy/ fish' and 'monkeys howl the illogical twilight' in Mông-Lan's intriguing sequences about places in Southeast Asia and North America. Mông-Lan takes her geographic imagination far beyond the space of a single ethnic heritage: scenes and sketches of Southeast Asia complement similarly structured poems about Mexico, whose tropics provide vivid, organic-seeming symbols. The Asian sequences concentrate instead on people 'villagers commuting from the countryside, ' Saigon citizens, kids, a new mother and the whole strange (to American eyes) constellation of 'A New Viet Nam.' Mông-Lan, whose family came to America from Vietnam in the '70s and who is now a Stegner fellow at Stanford University, explores all the above subjects and, crucially, her speaker's reactions to them in juxtaposed fragments, speculations and phrases arrayed on the field of each page in a manner that suggests the influence of Charles Olson and Adrienne Rich. Though the poems can have the too-even keel of reportage, they also ascend to heights of electric oddity: one poem finds new things to say about 'The Golden Gate Bridge, ' where 'the wind's mood and resolutions/ erase tendrils/ that grow/ from the sea (to engrave around it/ have that as a dish/ you could eat).' Readers who seek elaborate structures or an unerring musical ear may be may be disappointed in these impressionistic, accretive works. Those who seek ethnography, good travel writing, vivid phrases or durable images, on the other hand, will find much of this debut a worthwhile trip."--Publishers Weekly