Night Sky With Exit Wounds

Night Sky With Exit Wounds

Book - 2016
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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 in The 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, identity--all with a tremendous humanity."-- Slate

"In his impressive debut collection, Vuong writes beauty into--and culls from--individual, 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 night--sealed
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 Vuong attended 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.

Publisher: Port Townsend, Washington : Copper Canyon Press, 2016
ISBN: 9781556594953
Branch Call Number: 811.6 V982N 2016
Characteristics: viii, 89 pages ; 20 cm


From Library Staff

In his impressive debut collection, Vuong writes beauty into -- and culls from -- individual, familial, and historical traumas, exploring deeply personal themes such as poverty, depression, queer sexuality, domestic abuse, and the Vietnam War.

Winner of the 2017 T.S. Eliot Prize, this debut poetry collection was said to “capture specific moments in time with both photographic clarity and a sense of the evanescence of all earthly things." (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times)

From the critics

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OPL_AnnaW May 01, 2020

Moving, tender poetry with themes of the Viet Nam war, sexuality, and race throughout.

Dec 26, 2019

This poetry collection reveals a gifted, sensitive poet. Almost all the poems seemed to me to be written in a sort of personal code as the poet tried to convey deep emotions and impactful experiences. A unique work of art.

Oct 29, 2019

Vuong's apologia for Jeffrey Dahmer "Into the Breach" on page 37 made me realize that this unending exercise in alienation did not evoke understanding but something akin to outrage and I quit reading.

JCLChrisK Oct 18, 2019

Starkly emotional with evocative imagery and exquisite language. I wish this wasn't overdue to the library so I could savor it more.

Chapel_Hill_KrystalB Aug 06, 2019

So I don't read a lot of poetry and am not entirely sure I know enough about the craft to offer a critique. However. I loved this and can understand why Vuong is getting so much attention right now. I may not have loved (or even understood) ALL of the poems, but the ones I did love, I REALLY loved (Aubade with Burning City to name one). AND my love of this may not be as vast as my love of On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, but I absolutely cannot wait to read more poetry (and prose of course) by this writer.

JCLMattC Jun 19, 2019

I devoured this award-winning collection of poems much faster than I meant to. Call it literary gluttony.

Aug 17, 2016

By far, the most powerful collection of poetry I have read this year. Powerful, erudite, a journey of epic proportions, told from the lens of the Vietnamese-American immigration experience interwoven with literary and American cultural references. A must-read for anyone interested in great modern poetry. Ocean Vuong deserves all the accolades he has received.


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