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Night Sky with Exit Wounds

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  4,348 Ratings  ·  490 Reviews
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.
Paperback, 89 pages
Published April 5th 2016 by Copper Canyon Press
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Larry H
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
The most beautiful part of your body
is where it's headed, & remember
loneliness is still time spent
with the world.

To read Ocean Vuong's Night Sky with Exit Wounds is to be dazzled by gorgeous lyricism. I picked this up as part of my exploration of contemporary poetry I have been experimenting with over the last several weeks. It's amazing the breadth of talent that exists in this genre.

I realized after reading the first few sentences of Vuong's first poem just how talented he is. It certain
Apr 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a lovely lovely book of poems. Nearly every poem ended in a way that left me saying "mmmmm" with pleasure or admiration or the quiet of feeling stunned by such beautiful words.
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, poetry, favorites
Sparse and suggestive, the poems benefit from several readings: Vuong's language has a way of blossoming when read closely. Favorites included "Homewrecker," "Into the Breach," and "Anaphora as a Coping Mechanism."
"There are seagulls above us. There are hands fluttering between the constellations, trying to hold on....

"Everyone can forget us -- as long as you remember."

-Ocean Vuong, from "Immigrant Haibun"


I admire Vuong's use of repetition, of theme and variation, in poems like "Threshold" and "Trojan." While I often gravitate toward more traditionally structured, more metrically restricted verse than Vuong's, I concede that it is exactly his preference for unmetered lines that allows him to use repeti
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2017
“I didn't know the cost
of entering a song - was to lose
your way back.”
Meg Tuite
May 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mesmerizing, unforgettable, and a heart open in your hand. Vuong holds back nothing. This is one to reread and keep on the desk. To hold tight to the connection of why we write!

"When our lips touched the day closed
into a coffin. In the museum of the heart

there are two headless people building a burning house.
There was always the shotgun above..."

"Depending on where you stand
your name can sound like a full moon
shredded in a dead doe's pelt.
Your name changed when touched
by gravity. Gravity breakin
Steven Critelli
Apr 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Notwithstanding his youth, by the time Night Sky with Exit Wounds was published in early 2016, Ocean Vuong was already well-known as a exciting new poet, with poems in American Poetry Review, Gulf Coast, The New Yorker, The Poetry Review and other prominent poetry journals. So it was with much anticipation that I read this book. I regrettably say I was disappointed, partly because I expected a lot more in the way of a wunderkind's talent, with poetry that was as sophisticated as it was effusivel ...more
Aug 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
"Silly me. I thought love was real / & the body imaginary."
Tyler Goodson
Mar 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: six-stars
Read this one hundred times.
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A powerful collection of poems, about desire, longing, war, and loss. Vuong writes of the shattering effects of the Vietnamese war for the people of Vietnam. His poems are shot through with desire: for others, for sex, for meaning, as well as loss: of people, of love. The world and he are the scars of love and longing, stars the exit wounds of the bullets of pain we survive (or don't).

I felt drunk reading these poems, drunk on the words. Rich and as laden with beauty as a flower is with scent. I
Eric Norris
Jul 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
I don’t know if you will enjoy the book Night Sky With Exit Wounds, by Ocean Vuong. That depends on you: how closely you read it, how often, and your individual taste. I read it twice. You might read it more. Or less. Or never. Or never again. Or learn it by heart. Always a nice thing to do with poetry.

I should warn you though. Buying it entails a small financial risk that you will have to undertake.

Unless you receive it as a gift for your birthday, or on Halloween, or some other happy occasion.
Probably I shouldn't write this review until I reread this book. It's easy enough to do. One book from 35 poems. Probably I shouldn't write this because it came with such high expectations, which are, let's face it, a writer's worst enemies. Me, I'll take low expectations any day. If someone finds something good, I'll be happy. And maybe they will, too.

Ocean has a way with words. Words that demand attention. I still remember the Beloit Poetry Journal poem of his I read, "Telemachus." I loved tha
Chris Roberts
Mar 23, 2016 rated it did not like it
Verse is memory turned around...

A warehouse of the remembered...

And too the forgotten...

And the consciously left out...

Description, diction, misuse...

The author decides what to use...

The poetry medium is deader...

Than the poet ever could be...

Except for me, always, always me...

So now, is this obvious work...

Drop dead, so not dangerous...

Trod through scenarios...

sun against son...

Guess which one won...

Or how in the end...

I ask the wayfarer to...

Wake me up when originality...

Is resurrected, I want
Callum McAllister
I was ready to be disappointed, because I'm not sure any poetry book can live up to the hype of waiting half a year for it to be published in the U.K., but it was probably the best collection I've read in the last year - maybe longer.
Apr 17, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: poetry
This is the first full-length collection by Ocean Vuong, a rather thoughtless writer who is careless with words and who has never crossed a pathos he didn't immediately take. Voung has a second-rate imagination that never goes beyond his favorite subject, which is Vuong (see his New Yorker poem, "Someday I'll Love Ocean Vuong," which is literally addressed to himself, as an example). Page after page exhibits poor writing: in "Prayer for the Newly Damned" he writes "what becomes of the shepherds/ ...more
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
yes, i filled 3 pages full in my journal cramped handwriting and all, and yes, i am crying, and yes, i might do a blog post about this but goodreads isn't a good place for this but yes, i am in love and can finally declare myself an actual ocean vuong fan with reading an actual book instead of just samples online
Josh Hereth
Dec 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful. Mesmerizing. Raw. Hypnotizing. Engrossing. Amazing.
I could probably keep going but it's starting to get annoying-- ANYWAY-- wow what poetry. I, by no means, am a poetry fanatic or otherwise knowledgeable in the field. BUT. I know what is beautiful and what is good (and they don't always mean the same thing). This is both. This is honestly perfect.
May 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Прочитала ще казна-коли, все лінувалася відзвітуватися.
Минулого року ця книжка здобула поетичну премію ім.Т.С. Еліота, найпрестижнішу, мабуть, англомовну поетичну премію (сам Т.С. був би у жасі, що завжди приємний бонус).
Оушен Вонґ – американський поет в’єтнамського походження – обстоює місце на літературному полі міноритарних письменників, які “often enter the page with lexicons, vernaculars, syntax, and/or styles unfamiliar to a white patriarchal tradition, and in this prescriptive gaze, thei
Mar 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really wanted to LOVEEEEE this book (all five E's), as I briefly swooned over it a few months ago at a bookstore and my boyfriend is really into it. But some part of me just couldn't totally fall for the collection, despite Ocean's clear vision and talent. Maybe it was that the poems rely on only the barest of narratives or that some of the language got tripped up in a tangle of capital P poetry tropes. Either way, I wanted more (or maybe less).
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really loved several of the poems! So beautiful. So in awe and so proud that he's an Asian-American. It's so eye-opening to learn about his perspective on the Vietnam War too. But a few really flew over my head, not because they're bad or anything but I just couldn't get them.

Fuller review to come!
Apr 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, lgbtq
God must be a season grandma said, looking out at the blizzard drowning her garden.
My footsteps on the sidewalk were the smallest flights.
Dear god, if you are a season, let it be the one I passed through to get here.
Here. That's all I wanted to be.
I promise.
Eloise Mcallister
Apr 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'Loneliness is still time spent with the world.'

I think I need to read this again
Apr 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, not-at-mcpl
Vuong’s style feels like a very good version of a style of poetry that I’ve commonly read among younger poets. His work involves a lot of juxtaposition between violent images and soft images (see especially the poem “Aubade With Burning City,” which intersperses lines from the song White Christmas with descriptions of the fall of Saigon) - images of grenades and “exit wounds” and monarch butterflies and alcoholism and subversive sexuality (see the poem “Ode to Masturbation.”) There are interesti ...more
Apr 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read Ocean Vuong's chapbook Burnings at the San Francisco Public Library Main Branch. There was one copy and it was marked reference, which meant I had to read it in person. It also meant they had to bring it up from the basement, which took, like, an hour. For those who know me, the library is not my favorite place to kill an evening. But I digress. The point is, I'm willing to go pretty far for this guy's verse and Night Sky is no exception.

By turns lyric and narrative, the poems here strugg
Apr 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The only reason it took a few months for me to finish this collection of poetry is because I didn't want it to end. Mesmerizing, enchanting, lyrical, and quite frankly, one of my favorite books of poems. At times I found myself underlining entire passages--the images were that startling! Ocean Vuong breaks open my heart every single time. If you read only one work of poetry this year, it should be this one. And if you already own it, please move it to the top of your reading list.
Apr 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
If I squeeze the pages between my hands, they will drip with a night sky of war and smoke and men sleeping with other men, highlighted with loss and grief, family members burning off like wind with sand. I loved every single drop of this book.
Apr 25, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry-prose
It is either the case of the wrong book at the wrong time, or I just didn't feel the poems. I think there were two or three in total that I liked.
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
would risk it all for ocean vuong, 1000%
Dec 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Deep emotions stirred up by words coming sincerely from each poem made me wonder who is this amazingly gifted poet who imprinted pieces of his soul on each page of this book?
His name is Ocean Vuong.
He was born in Vietnam and his family emigrated to US when he was 2 years old. This year, he received a Whiting Award, and in 2014 he has been awarded a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. I came across few of his interview words which revealed to m
Jul 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Ah man, who doesn't love Ocean Vuong? His poetry is rich with emotion and imagery, and there's a certain kind of intensity I'm not sure how to describe behind his work. 'One day I'll Love Ocean Vuong' is probably my favourite, and has been my favourite since I read it a while ago online. It's got a lyricness to it that I adore and it can be read and interpreted in so many different ways and somehow feels deeply personal to me, despite it being so grounded in Vuong's own experiences and relations ...more
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Poet and essayist Ocean Vuong is the author of the best-selling, Night Sky with Exit Wounds, winner of the Whiting Award and Thom Gunn Award, finalist for Forward Prize for Best First Collection, the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, the Lamda Literary Prize, and was named by the New York Times as a Top 10 Book of 2016. A Ruth Lilly fellow from the Poetry Foundation, his honors include fellowships from ...more
More about Ocean Vuong
“How sweet. That rain. How something that lives only to fall can be nothing but sweet.” 33 likes
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