The Secret of Hoa Sen

"Nguyen Phan Que Mai's The Secret of Hoa Sen, translated by the author and Bruce Weigl, takes us along the streets of Vietnam where we meet women bearing 'stars in the shape of carrying poles' and women who are the collectors of garbage who 'mend their lives whole from debris.' Que Mai takes us deep into the earth with 'earthworms who know how to sing the eternal song of emerald grass.' She brings forth the music in each rice plant blossoming in the lullaby of her grandma who died during the Great Famine. Through the suffering of war and greed and the celebration of life, these poems originate in the depths of mud and rise, like the lotus flower whose petals magically take flight, bringing us its truth and freedom."

- Teresa Mei Chuc, author of Red Thread: Poems

"Nguyen Phan Que Mai is among the most exciting writers to emerge from post-war Vietnam. Bruce Weigl, driven by his personal experiences as a soldier during the war in Vietnam, has spent the past 20 years translating contemporary Vietnamese poetry. These penetrating poems, published in bilingual English and Vietnamese, build new bridges between two cultures bound together by war and destruction. The Secret of Hoa Sen, Que Mai's first full-length U.S. publication, shines with craft, art, and deeply felt humanity."

- BOA Editions, New York


Order The Secret of Hoa Sen now on BOA Editions Website or


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US Book Tour – The Secret of Hoa Sen:

Nguyen Phan Que Mai is honored to be invited to the US for the tour of her new book:

  • February 26, 2015: Poetry Reading at Georgia Tech University (Poetry@Tech - Atlanta)
  • March 1, 2015: Poetry Sunday Event (Lannan Foundation - New Mexico)
  • March 5, 2015: Vietnamese Poetry & Poetry Workshop (Writers & Books Literary Center - Rochester)
  • March 6, 2015: Vietnamese Poetry & Poetry Workshop (Writers & Books Literary Center - Rochester)
  • March 6, 2015 (Evening): Poetry Reading (Writers & Books Literary Center - Rochester)
  • March 9 &10, 2015: Distinguished Visiting Faculty and Poetry Reading at Poets House (New York City).


- "Nguyen Phan Que Mai's is a poetry that instructs us how to live more fully in the world, and reaffirms the power of clear-headed and direct writing to transform even our darkest hours into deeply abiding lessons on the complexities of history, time and love." (Bruce Weigl – poet, distinguished professor, and past Chairperson of the Judging Panel for Poetry for the American National Book Award).


- "Nguyen Phan Que Mai is a poet with a sharp intellectual capacity for poetry that is fresh and natural in its emotions. Combining this with her willingness to continuously renew her knowledge and her life experiences through her work within and outside Vietnam, she has created for herself an original poetic character which embodies a high level of creative expression in the comprehensive reflection of the rich aspects of social and human realities." (Poet Bang Viet – President of the Poetry Board, Vietnam Writers Association).


- "Nguyen Phan Que Mai's poetry collection Freeing Myself caught the attention of many amongst voices of young writers. Her voice is refined, so that when addressing personal matters, it does not fall into the trap of triviality. Her poems bear a passionate love for her country, whether written from the perspective of someone who lives overseas, or someone who lives in Vietnam. Yet this love is not exaggerated. The author has also proven the courageous spirit of young writers, refusing to accept old ways of writing, and not relying on shallow language, or not trying to shock readers with elaborated and superficial forms..." (Media release on the Literature Prizes of 2010, the Hanoi Writers' Association,).