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Night Sky with Exit Wounds

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  5,404 ratings  ·  594 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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4.32  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,404 ratings  ·  594 reviews

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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, read-2018
“I didn't know the cost
of entering a song - was to lose
your way back.”
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
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
David Schaafsma
Feb 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
“Stars. Or rather, the drains of heaven – waiting. Little holes. Little centuries opening just enough for us to slip through.”

“I hold the gun & wonder if an entry wound in the night would make a hole wide as morning.”

Published in 2016, this is Ocean Vuong’s first full collection of poetry. A book about violence, identity, NY vs. Vietnam, sex, being gay, Grandma, living the legacy of Vietnam and the war (He was born in Saigon), and feels ecstatic, bursting with enthusiasm and reflecting pai
Sep 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Trish by: Michael
Published in 2016, this is Ocean Vuong’s first full collection of poetry. We will never know how a boy emerges, so young, with a talent so great. A poem chosen at random lights deep, protected nodes in our brain and attaches to our viscera. We recognize his work as surely as we appreciate a painting, or a piece of music. He appears a conduit, not a creator.

One of the poems in this collection has a title referencing a Mark Rothko painting. Glancing at it, we know immediately why he pairs it with
Aug 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
"Silly me. I thought love was real / & the body imaginary."
Nov 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018

well this was infinitely better than most other poetry i've read in my life. but its still poetry lol i was lost for about 50% of it and everything went super over my head. BUT. stuff i DID understand, i quite liked. Excited to chat with Prof Vuong about his poetry this week!
Tyler Goodson
Mar 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: six-stars
Read this one hundred times.
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.
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
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
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
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.
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Đọc song song bản tiếng Anh và tiếng Việt, thơ Ocean khó dịch quá, dù nội dung có gần gũi Việt Nam thế nào thì cách làm thơ cũng rất Mỹ, bởi vậy nó mang lại một cảm giác kỳ lạ khó diễn tả, lúc thì êm đềm dịu dàng khi thì trúc trở buồn đau.
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
Shelves: lgbt, poetry
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!
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
"to keep & be kept. the way a field turns its secrets into peonies. the way the light keeps its shadow by swallowing it".

have you every read something so good that the imagery within the pages of that book or the story moved you so much you thought you were a bystander in that story witnessing it all? this is that book! what ocean provides in his book is raw, creative, and breathtaking.
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.
Jul 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 24in48
Absolutely brilliant poetry!
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
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“How sweet. That rain. How something that lives only to fall can be nothing but sweet.” 39 likes
“& remember, / loneliness is still time spent / with the world.” 23 likes
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