On 14th January 2018, the T. S. Eliot Prize Winner was announced. Ocean Vuong’s astounding debut collection, Night Sky with Exit Wounds, traces the aftermath of war across generations. In a video about his collection he says “a lot of the poems in the collection attempt to navigate history through a rewriting, or rather a recasting, of history into a mythology”. Vuong is the first literate person in his family and has certainly mastered his words in poetry – one of the judges said the collection is a ‘definitive arrival of a significant voice’.
Born in Saigon, Vuong spent a year in a refugee camp and migrated to America when he was two years old. He currently lives in Massachusetts where he works as an assistant professor in the MFA Program for Poets and Writers at the University of Massachusetts. Night Sky with Exit Wounds has also won the Forward Prize for best collection.
“Reading Vuong is like watching a fish move: he manages the varied currents of English with muscled intuition. His poems are by turns graceful and wonderstruck. 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
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