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Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong

 Author: Vuong, Ocean  Publisher: Copper Canyon Press  Published: 2016  ISBN: 9781556594953  Pages: 17  Country: USA  Language: English
 About:
AWARDS

WINNER of the 2017 T. S. Eliot Prize
A New York Times 
Top 10 Book of 2016
2016 Best Books of the Year WINNER
2016 Whiting Award WINNER
2017 Publishing Triangle’s Thom Gunn Award FINALIST
2017 Kate Tufts Discovery Award FINALIST
2017 Lambda Literary Award

 

Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong

In his haunting and fearless debut, Ocean Vuong walks a tightrope of historic and personal violences, creating an interrogation of the American body as a borderless space of both failure and triumph. At once vulnerable and redemptive, dreamlike and visceral, compassionate and unforgiving, these poems seek a myriad existence without forgetting the prerequisite of self-preservation in a world bent on extinguishing its othered voices. Vuong’s poems show, through breath, cadence, and unrepentant enthrallment, that a gentle palm on a chest can calm the most necessary of hungers.

 

Praise

“Reading Vuong is like watching a fish move: he manages the varied currents of English with muscled intuition….His lines are both long and short, his pose narrative and lyric, his diction formal and insouciant. From the outside, Vuong has fashioned a poetry of inclusion.” — The New Yorker

“An important new voice in American poetry.” — Beloit Poetry Journal

“What a treasure [Ocean Vuong] is to us. What a perfume he’s crushed and rendered of his heart and soul. What a gift this book is.”  — Li-Young Lee

“[Vuong] takes from Pound the ability to eternalize a moment.”  POETRY

“Even as Vuong leads you through every pleasure a body deserves and all the ensuing grief, these poems restore you with hope, that godforsaken thing–alive, singing along to the radio, suddenly sufficient.” — Traci Brimhall

“What this poet sees on the street, in a blizzard, or even while studying an apple reminds me of those dreams we have in common: dreams in which we are falling but never touch the ground, dreams in which we are naked in the presence of men suited for our ruin.” — Jericho Brown

 

Review

“There is a powerful emotional undertow to these poems that springs from Mr. Vuong’s sincerity and candor, and from his ability to capture specific moments in time with both photographic clarity and a sense of the evanescence of all earthly things. Whether he is writing about war or family or sex, there is a presentiment of loss — wrought by violence, by misunderstanding or the simple ticking of the calendar and clock.

Mr. Vuong writes as an immigrant and as a gay man, and his poems capture what it means to be an outsider (a “beast banished/ from the ark”) and the brutal history of prejudice in America, where “trees know/ the weight of history.” He writes of the rough sea voyages endured by immigrants trying to make their way to America — ocean voyages that bring to mind both the hopeful pilgrimage of pilgrims and the forced middle passage endured by slaves — and he describes refugee camps “sick with smoke & half-sung/ hymns.”

The word “body” recurs in many of these poems, signifying the fragility of human life and stubborn fact of mortality, but also the possibilities of passion. The other leitmotifs that float, musically, throughout this volume concern the fraught relationship between fathers and sons, the ocean crossings made by refugees and the conjuring power of words.”

A review by Michiko Kakutani for The New York Times

 


 

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