A Gay Vietnam-born poet just won the top award at the “Poetry Oscars.”
28-year-old Ocean Vuong just received £5,000 for winning the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection at the Forward Prizes for his book Night Sky With Exit Wounds.
Andrew Marr, the head of the judging panel, praised Vuong’s writing as ”a truly remarkable new voice”.
He explained further that:
”This exciting poet navigates different terrains, from personal traumas to history and mythology, with great skill and imagination. Formally daring, and rich in images, Night Sky with Exit Wounds is an incredibly accomplished first collection by an extraordinary talent.”
This is just the latest step in a continually successful career and life for Vuong.
Ocean Vuong was born in Saigon, Vietnam but soon moved to the US (specifically Hartford, Connecticut) with his family when he was two. Vuong then went on to earn a BFA at Brooklyn College before committing to a career of poetry.
Since then, Vuong has authored poetry collections such as Burnings in 2010, The chapbooks No in 2013, and Night Sky With Exit Wounds in 2016.
Vuong has seen his work be translated into Hindi, Korean, Russian, and Vietnamese and he’s been honored with fellowships from the Elizabeth George Foundation, Poets House, Kundiman, the Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts, and Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry fellowship from the Poetry Foundation.
Plus, Vuong has won prizes for Academy of American Poets Prize, an American Poetry Review Stanley Kunitz Prize for Younger Poets, a Pushcart Prize, a Beloit Poetry Journal Chad Walsh Poetry Prize, and a Whiting Award.
While celebrating this moment of victory, Ocean Vuong awaits returning to his Pioneer Valley, Massachusetts home, and his faculty job in the MFA program at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.