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Ocean Vuong - book author

Ocean Vuong is the author of the debut novel, On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, out from Penguin Press (2019) and forthcoming in 15 other languages worldwide. He is also the author of the critically acclaimed poetry collection, Night Sky with Exit Wounds, a New York Times Top 10 Book of 2016, winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Whiting Award, the Thom Gunn Award, and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. A Ruth Lilly fellow from the Poetry Foundation, his honors include fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, The Elizabeth George Foundation, The Academy of American Poets, and the Pushcart Prize.



Vuong's writings have been featured in The Atlantic, Harpers, The Nation, New Republic, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Village Voice, and American Poetry Review, which awarded him the Stanley Kunitz Prize for Younger Poets. Selected by Foreign Policy magazine as a 2016 100 Leading Global Thinker, alongside Hillary Clinton, Ban Ki-Moon and Justin Trudeau, Ocean was also named by BuzzFeed Books as one of “32 Essential Asian American Writers” and has been profiled on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” PBS NewsHour, Teen Vogue, VICE, The Fantastic Man, and The New Yorker.


Born in Saigon, Vietnam, he lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, where he serves as an Assistant Professor in the MFA Program for Poets and Writers at Umass-Amherst.

Ocean Vuong is the author of books: On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, Night Sky with Exit Wounds, Burnings, No, Essay on Craft, Freeman's: Scrittori dal futuro, What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the Age of Trump, We Contain Multitudes, Gathering Voices: Creating a Community-Based Poetry Workshop, Sugar House Review #8: Spring/Summer '13

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01
Poet Ocean Vuong's debut novel is a shattering portrait of a family, a first love, and the redemptive power of storytelling.

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family's history that began before he was born — a history whose epicenter is rooted in Vietnam — and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation. At once a witness to the fraught yet undeniable love between a single mother and her son, it is also a brutally honest exploration of race, class, and masculinity. Asking questions central to our American moment, immersed as we are in addiction, violence, and trauma, but undergirded by compassion and tenderness, On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is as much about the power of telling one's own story as it is about the obliterating silence of not being heard.

With stunning urgency and grace, Ocean Vuong writes of people caught between disparate worlds, and asks how we heal and rescue one another without forsaking who we are. The question of how to survive, and how to make of it a kind of joy, powers the most important debut novel of many years.
02
Ocean Vuong's first full-length collection aims straight for the perennial "big"—and very human—subjects of romance, family, memory, grief, war, and melancholia. None of these he allows to overwhelm his spirit or his poems, which demonstrate, through breath and cadence and unrepentant enthrallment, that a gentle palm on a chest can calm the fiercest hungers.
03
“I was born because someone was starving…” ends one of Ocean Vuong’s poems, and in that poem, as in every other of his poems, Ocean manages to imbue the desperation of his being alive, with a savage beauty. It is not just that Ocean can render pain as a kind of loveliness, but that his poetic line will not let you forget the hurt or the garish brilliance of your triumph; will not let you look away. These poems shatter us detail by detail because Ocean leaves nothing unturned, because every lived thing in his poems demands to be fed by you; to nourish you in turn. You will not leave these poems dissatisfied. They will fill you utterly.”
-Roger Bonair-Agard, author of Tarnish and Masquerade and Gully

“Vuong’s perfectly crafted poems are intensely personal, and intensely universal. What he has to whisper to us sears our eyes and minds like a branding iron, burning. Whether his words are of wars past or present, they are inescapably palpable. This is the work of a gifted cantor, singing of pain, singing of healing.”
-Grady Harp, Amazon Top Reviewer and critic

“Ocean Vuong is a poet of rare lyrical gifts and urgent stories to tell. “Memory,” he writes, “has not forgotten you.” No, it hasn’t forgotten the burning city or the taste of blood nor the hanging of rags or the violence of war. Vuong’s poems are testament to the enduring power of poetry and its place in this human universe.”
-Hoa Nguyen, author of Hectate Lochia and As Long as Trees Last
04
No
Almost all of the titles in this beautiful "little" book bleed into the poems that follow them—so goes Ocean Vuong's way of piercing at his subconscious until we are aware of it as part of our collective unconscious. 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 ground, dreams in which we are naked in the presence of men suited for our ruin.
—Jericho Brown, Please

Anyone who has already sensed that “hope is a feathered thing that dies in the Lord’s mouth,” should get their hands on NO. Honest, intimate, and brimming with lyric intensity, these stunning poems come of age with a fifth of vodka and an afternoon in an attic, with a record stuck on please, with starlight on a falling bomb. 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, Our Lady of the Ruins
06
«Scrittori dal futuro» è il primo numero dell’edizione italiana della rivista letteraria Freeman’s, e il quarto di quella americana. I primi tre numeri proponevano contenuti inediti di nuove voci e autori già noti (Haruki Murakami, Colum McCann, Aleksandar Hemon e molti altri) sotto forma di piccole antologie, ciascuna dedicata a un tema: arrivo, casa, famiglia. In questo numero speciale, Freeman abbandona momentaneamente la progressione per associazioni tematiche e, basandosi su consigli di editor, critici, traduttori e autori internazionali, propone una lista di ventinove fra poeti, saggisti, romanzieri e scrittori di racconti che nell’attuale clima di chiusura ed esclusione sono riusciti a guardare al di là delle barriere di identità nazionale, età o genere cui la loro opera verrebbe normalmente ascritta, per rivendicare il diritto a fare della scrittura uno strumento di comunicazione globale.
07
This is an anthology of poems in the Age of Trump—and much more than Trump. These are poems that either embody or express a sense of empathy or outrage, both prior to and following his election, since it is empathy the president lacks and outrage he provokes.

There is an extraordinary diversity of voices here. The ninety-three poets featured include Elizabeth Alexander, Julia Alvarez, Richard Blanco, Carolyn Forché, Aracelis Girmay, Donald Hall, Juan Felipe Herrera, Yusef Komunyakaa, Naomi Shihab Nye, Marge Piercy, Robert Pinsky, Danez Smith, Patricia Smith, Brian Turner, Ocean Vuong, Bruce Weigl, and Eleanor Wilner. They speak of persecuted and scapegoated immigrants. They bear witness to violence: police brutality against African Americans, mass shootings in a school or synagogue, the rage inflicted on women everywhere. They testify to poverty: the waitress surviving on leftovers at the restaurant, the battles of a teacher in a shelter for homeless mothers, the emergency-room doctor listening to the heartbeats of his patients. There are voices of labor, in the factory and the fields. There are prophetic voices, imploring us to imagine the world we will leave behind in ruins lest we speak and act.

However, this is not merely a collection of grievances. The poets build bridges. One poet steps up to translate in Arabic at the airport; another walks through the city and sees her immigrant past in the immigrant present; another declaims a musical manifesto after the hurricane that devastated his island; another evokes a demonstration in the street, shouting in an ecstasy of defiance. The poets take back the language, resisting the demagogic corruption of words themselves. They assert our common humanity in the face of dehumanization.
08
Softblow poetry journal celebrates twelve years of publishing poetry in English, from the widely acclaimed and deeply experienced, to the freshly youthful and urgent. Curated by two of the founding editors, Cyril Wong and Jason Wee, We Contain Multitudes reflects the poet-editors’ omnivorous literary appetites and interests, and includes poems written especially for this anthology by Lawrence Lacambra Ypil, Michelle Cahill, Yasmin Belkhyr, Sharlene Teo, among others.

Featuring Singaporean talents such as Ann Ang, Boey Kim Cheng, Christine Chia, Grace Chua, Tania De Rozario, Jee Leong Koh, Chandran Nair, Pooja Nansi, Ng Yi-Sheng, Daryl Qilin Yam, Jerrold Yam, Arthur Yap and Yong Shu Hoong; and international voices such as Aazam Abidov, Sherman Alexie, Kimberly Blaeser, Ingrid de Kok, Kristine Ong Muslim, Mariko Nagai, Murat Nemet-Nejat, Alicia Suskin Ostriker, Laksmi Pamuntjak, Simon Perchik, Marge Piercy, Jeet Thayil, Tim Tomlinson and Ocean Vuong.

Full list of contributors:

Aria Misha Aber
Aazam Abidov
Reshma Aquil
Sherman Alexie
Shane Allison
Ann Ang
Arlene Ang
Aaron Anstett
Eseohe Arhebamen

Glenn Bach
Yasmin Belkhyr
Stephen Black
Kimberly Blaeser
Boey Kim Cheng
Jenny Boully
Timothy Bradford
David Brennan
Michael Broder
Blake Butler
Sam Byfield

Michelle Cahill
Carol Chan
Kristin Chang
Christine Chia
Wendy Chin-Tanner
Eileen Chong
Grace Chua
Chua Hock Meng
Jackie Clark
Thomas Cochran
Emily Rose Cole
Michael Collins
Jennifer Compton
Jasmine Ann Cooray
Brandon Courtney
Bruce Covey
Jen Crawford
M.T.C. Cronin
Barbara Cully

Rachel Dacus
Maxwell Dahlquist
Ja'net Danielo
John Gallaher & Kristina Marie Darling
Kristina Maria Darling
Peter Davis
Ingrid de Kok
Tania De Rozario
William Delman
Andrew Demcak
Nandini Dhar
Benzie Dio
Joe Dresner
T.F.D.

Eran E. Eads
Robert Eastwood
Theresa Edwards
Ee Tiang Hong
Marjorie Evasco

Michael Farrell
Jennifer H. Fortin
Leora Fridman
Basim Furat

J.M. Gamble
John M. Ganiard
Brent Goodman
Gwee Li Sui

Jeff Handy
Paul Hardacre
David Harris-Gershon
Scott Hartwich
Anne Heide
Ed Higgins
Melissa Ho
Hoang Xuan Son
Alicia Hoffman
Anne Cecelia Holmes & Lily Ladewig
L.K. Holt
Dan Hornsby
B.B.P. Hosmillo
Jane Huffman

Joshua Ip
Rich Ives

Terry Jaensch
Mohamed Jeeshan
Salleh Ben Joned

Aseem Kaul
Werner Kho
John Kinsella
Koh Beng Liang
Gilbert Koh
Jee Leong Koh
Koh Tsin Yen
Koh Xin Tian
Bill Kushner

Leon Yuchin Lau
Gregory Lawless
Aaron Lee Soon Yong
Ed Bok Lee
Lee Jing-Jing
Wei Fen Lee
Yew Leong Lee
Genevieve Lehr
Leong Liew Geok
Joel Lewis
Rosanna Licari
Lyn Lifshin
Dawn Lim
Désirée Lim
Loh Guan Liang
Eric Low
Douglas Luman

Mai Van Phan
Aaron Maniam
Sharanya Manivannan
Chris Martin
Mayo Martin
Bernadette Mayer
Ian McBryde
Todd Mercer
Linda Lancione Moyer
Paul Murphy

Mariko Nagai
Chandran Nair
Pooja Nansi
Murat Nemet-Nejat
Gaston Ng
Ng Yi-Sheng
Alistair Noon
Eric Thomas Norris
Aimee Ann Norton

Alexandra Oliver
Christopher Ujine Ong
Kristine Ong Muslim
Anthony Opal
Al Ortolani
Alicia Suskin Ostriker

Laksmi Pamuntjak
Allan Justo Pastrana
Simon Perchik
Kevin Peters
Marge Piercy

Arjun Rajendran
Mani Rao
Jim Redmond
Justin Runge

Gregory Vincent St. Thomasino
Jaya Savige
L.A. Seidensticker
Nasri Shah
Tom Sheehan
Andrew Shields
Brandon Shimoda
Peter Jay Shippy
Trish Shishikura
Hal Sirowitz
Joon Song
Corey Spencer
Leigh Stein
Jordan Stempleman
Alex Stolis
Adam Strauss
C.P. Surendran
R.L. Swihart

Eileen R. Tabios
Eszter Takacs
Paul Tan
Eddie Tay
Teng Qian Xi
Sharlene Teo
Jeet Thayil
Caitlin Elizabeth Thomson
Amos Toh
Toh Hsien Min
Joel M. Toledo
Tim Tomlinson
Stefani Tran
Geoff Kagan Trenchard
Tse Hao Guang
Tenzin Tsundue
Chris Tysh

Mihir Vatsa
Ocean Vuong

Lucy Wainger
Benjamin Walker
Betty Warrington-Kearsley
Lewis Warsh
Jason Wee
Helen Wickes
Cyril Wong
Jane Wong
Wong Phui Nam
Fiona Wright
Jenny Wu

Daryl Qilin Yam
Jerrold Yam
Angeline Yap
Arthur Yap
Yeow Kai Chai
Yong Shu Hoong
Mark Young
Lawrence Lacambra Ypil
Ouyang Yu

Jessica Zhang
Zhuang Yusa
09
Would you like a blueprint for running successful workshops?

Are you looking for innovative and interactive writing prompts?

How about exercises specifically designed for poems by some of our most exciting contemporary voices?

Marty McConnell offers start-to-finish instructions along with a grounding in the Gathering Voices approach for both aspiring and seasoned facilitators who want to establish or invigorate a poetry learning environment both in community-based workshops and classroom settings.