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Night Sky with Exit Wounds Hardcover – June 17 2019
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One of the most celebrated poetry books of the year:
The New Yorker, The Best Books of Poetry of 2016
New York Times, Critics Pick
Boston Globe, Best Books listing
NPR, Best Books listing
Miami Herald, Best LGBTQ Books
San Francisco Chronicle, Top 100 Books of the Year
Library Journal, Best Books of 2016
Michiko Kakutani inThe New York Times writes: The poems in Mr. Vuong’s new collection,Night Sky With Exit Wounds possess a tensile precision reminiscent of Emily Dickinson’s work, combined with a Gerard Manley Hopkins-like appreciation for the sound and rhythms of words. Mr. Vuong can create startling images (a black piano in a field, a wedding-cake couple preserved under glass, a shepherd stepping out of a Caravaggio painting) and make the silences and elisions in his verse speak as potently as his words 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.”
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
The language is painfully, exquisitely exact, the scenes haunting and indelible . Highly recommended.”Library Journal, starred review
"Night Sky with Exit Wounds establishes Vuong as a fierce new talent to be reckoned with...This book is a masterpiece that captures, with elegance, the raw sorrows and joys of human existence."Buzzfeed's "Most Exciting New Books of 2016"
"This original, sprightly wordsmith of tumbling pulsing phrases pushes poetry to a new level...A stunning introduction to a young poet who writes with both assurance and vulnerability. Visceral, tender and lyrical, fleet and agile, these poems unflinchingly face the legacies of violence and cultural displacement but they also assume a position of wonder before the world.”2016 Whiting Award citation
"Night Sky with Exit Wounds is the kind of book that soon becomes worn with love. You will want to crease every page to come back to it, to underline every other line because each word resonates with power."LitHub
"Vuong’s powerful voice explores passion, violence, history, identityall with a tremendous humanity."Slate
In his impressive debut collection, Vuong writes beauty intoand culls fromindividual, familial, and historical traumas. Vuong exists as both observer and observed throughout the book as he explores deeply personal themes such as poverty, depression, queer sexuality, domestic abuse, and the various forms of violence inflicted on his family during the Vietnam War. Poems float and strike in equal measure as the poet strives to transform pain into clarity.”Publishers Weekly
Torso of Air
Suppose you do change your life.
& the body is more than
a portion of nightsealed
with bruises. Suppose you woke
& found your shadow replaced
by a black wolf. The boy, beautiful
& gone. So you take the knife to the wall
instead. You carve & carve
until a coin of light appears
& you get to look in, at last,
on happiness. The eye
staring back from the other side
Born in Saigon, Vietnam,Ocean Vuongattended Brooklyn College. He is the author of two chapbooks as well as a full-length collection,Night Sky with Exit Wounds. A Ruth Lilly Fellow and winner of the Whiting Award, Ocean Vuong lives in New York City.
About the Author
- Publisher : Copper Canyon Press (June 17 2019)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 106 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1556595859
- ISBN-13 : 978-1556595851
- Item weight : 230 g
- Dimensions : 13.97 x 0.97 x 21.59 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: #167,148 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from Canada
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SO: If you like work that is brave and revelatory, you want to buy this book. If you like literature that breaks new ground for others, like good research does, you want to read this book. If you like books full of heart and wisdom, you want to read this book. Whether you are religious or humanist, you want to read this book.
PS: It wouldn't sit right with me to not leave a review with how much I adored this, especially with that awful 2-star review just sitting there, pushing the rating down so easily with how few Canadians have reviewed this.
Top reviews from other countries
I had been looking for another author to read, my mind always eager to devour words - but now that I am older I am far more selective and need to use my remaining time wisely. Clicking links here and there I enountered a web page with several contemporary poets mentioned along with their photographs. I was struck by the fragility I saw in Vuong's picture and spent a while quickly reading several of his works online. Then I clicked a button to listen to him read.
I was enthralled.
The fragility I detected in his photograph, the raw honesty I had read in his poetry, all was emphasised when I listened to him speak and I knew this was a writer I should give my time to. I ordered both books of poetry from Amazon, in hardback, forgetting that I needed the money to pay the extra food bill this week, and waited impatiently. I was like a child at Christmas and when the books arrived next day it was like holding Ocean Vuong himself in my hands.
Whilst waiting for the books to arrive I did read quite a lot of his background so that I already understood who he was, where he had come from, his history, his family's history. Him. I am so glad I did that because each word on the page is a petal from Vuong's own life and experiences and, reading each word slowly, deliberately, quietly, just as he reads, the awesome beauty of the man shines through.
This is not an easy read, especially for UK-educated readers who are always stuffed full of exact form, precise rhyme, rhythm, nature... I can complain, and I do complain, because my first university degree and subsequent research was literature-based, and mostly poetry. Vuong writes as a poet, a writer, he does not write as someone aiming to please a magazine editor or a critic. This places him way above most contemporary published poets. Am I putting him up on a pedestal? You betcha sweet life I am and, although I saw my own poetry published frequently from the age of 14, I look back now and wish I had had Vuong's vision, his daring, his openness right from the start of my writing career. But the world is a different place now from when I was a teenager, and, thankfully, there is a welcoming space for writers to write with honesty and without allusion. You do not have to read between the lines of Vuong's work, just read him and love him.
This is a small selection of poems that touch on Vuong's life, his experiences, the horrific experiences endured by his extended family in Saigon during and after the Vietnam war, the bullying and torment he experienced as a child, the torment between his history and his life in America. He has been referred to as a gay poet, I don't see that, I don't accept that. Gender, sexuality, does inform a writer's view of themselves and the world, but this is not "gay" poetry, this is a snapshot of real life, of development, of acceptance, of rejection, of cruelty, of man's inhumanity to man. In short, this single first volume of poetry would be sufficient to hold this poet as one of the most influential contemporary writers we have and it should be treasured, re-read, understood, and talked about.
Vuong followed this first poetry volume with a novel and then a more recent second volume of poetry (I will comment on these in Amazon reviews on their respective pages). For such a young man, carrying the burden of a terrifying history and family history few of us will ever experience, thankfully, and perhaps less will even understand such trauma, Vuong has achieved remarkable success, influence and educational standing in his short life and I look forward to seeing where his future journey takes him.
I cannot praise this book enough and recommend it fully. Whilst waiting for your copy to arrive, check out some of his short interviews and poetry reading online on that highly popular video website, you won't be disappointed and it will inform your reading before you even open this special book.
To Ocean: thank you, for being you.
Four stars, though, because most of it sounds rather good. So it's probably something important, for people who understand.
I am content with the book but cannot excuse the delivery way.