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Book Title


Author 1
Mai Der Vang
Poem Excerpt
When I make the crossing, you must not be taken no matter what
the current gives. When we reach the camp,
there will be thousands like us.?
If I make it onto the plane, you must follow me to the roads
and waiting pastures of America.
We will not ride the water today on the shoulders of buffalo
as we used to many years ago, nor will we forage?
for the sweetest mangoes.
I am refugee. You are too. Cry, but do not weep.
—from “Transmigration”
Afterland is a powerful, essential collection of poetry that recounts with devastating detail the Hmong exodus from Laos and the fate of thousands of refugees seeking asylum. Mai Der Vang is telling the story of her own family and by doing so, she also provides an essential history of the Hmong culture’s ongoing resilience in exile. Many of these poems are written in the voices of those fleeing unbearable violence after U.S. forces recruited Hmong fighters in Laos in the Secret War against communism, only to abandon them after that war went awry. That history is little known, but the three hundred thousand Hmong now living in the United States are living proof of its aftermath. With poems of extraordinary force and grace, Afterland holds an original place in American poetry and lands with a sense of humanity saved, of outrage, of a deep tradition broken by war and ocean but still intact, remembered, and lived. 

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The 2016 winner of the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets, selected by Carolyn Forché

About the Author

Mai Der  Vang
Credit: Ze Moua
Mai Der Vangis the author of Yellow Rain, a finalist for the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, and Afterland, winner of the First Book Award of the Academy of American Poets. The recipient of a Lannan Literary Fellowship, her poetry has appeared in Tin House, the American Poetry Review, and Poetry, among other journals and anthologies. She teaches in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Fresno State.
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  • “[Afterland] is among the most satisfying débuts by an American poet in some time.”The New Yorker
  • “Mai Der Vang showcases her moving work in this powerful collection of poems. . . . She sheds light on this little-known part of history and how its legacy is present even in the United States today.”Real Simple
  • Afterland’s voice seems to transmigrate, riding the trance of memory from one image to the next. . . . Vang’s work moves in the realms of ecstatic appeal where meaning is revealed cumulatively. Her ambient revelations read more like incantations. . . . She teeters and ultimately tumbles headlong into the realms of memory and dream, expertly crafting fine and elegant passages on her way.”Los Angeles Review of Books
  • “Mai Der Vang gives fiery, poetic voice to a secret war and a dispersed people in her powerful poetry collection Afterland. . . . A visually rich and heartrending poetry collection.”Shelf Awareness


2016 Walt Whitman Award winner
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