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The Works of Ocean Vuong

Rarely do you come across words that touch your heart, leave it singed at the place of the touch, and leave you wanting for more, feeling for more. Ocean Vuong holds in his hands a power so surreal, I feel a tide of emotion as I try to pen it down.

In his semi-autobiographical debut novel 'On Earth, We're Briefly Gorgeous', he explores many themes, some of which are identity, domestic violence, grief, sexuality, and familial longing. The novel takes the form of a letter, addressed to his mother, the irony clutching one at the very beginning as we discover the letter has no way of reaching her. 

As they leaf through each page, the reader is prone to feel pleasantly overwhelmed by the beautiful symbolism and emotional depth of his writing. From exploring himself and the nature of his desires in a quiet tobacco farm in Connecticut to struggling in an American environment due to his being 'yellow' and from reeling from the death of his schizophrenic grandmother to feeling lost in the worst sense possible, the kin of a refugee mother and grandmother who escaped the Vietnam war, he pulls you in an intriguing storyline. Still, he makes you stay for the array of emotions that his words express.

In his collection of poems titled 'Time is a Mother', he deals with the loss of his mother, who has been observed to form an integral part of his works. Gut-wrenching and visually fueled does not even begin to describe the beauty of his words. With quotes like 'How come the past tense is always longer?' and 'What if it was the crash that made us, and not the debris' making up his poetry, he compels the reader to question their perception of themselves, leaving in its wake a dust storm of creative soup. 

His other published works include poems like 'Aubade With Burning City', 'DetoNation', and 'A Little Closer To The Edge' among many others. While many of his poems have the Vietnam War and its survivors at its crux, his relationship with himself and his mother are the themes that hit home the hardest.

With almost lyrical language and imagery that could transport you to Hartford, Connecticut or Saigon, Vietnam within minutes, Ocean Vuong's works are a definite marvel and must-read, making him a writer, novelist, and poet worth checking out. 

Some of our favorite lines by Ocean Vuong are:

'Because everyone knows yellow pain, pressed into American letters, turns to gold. Our sorrow Midas-touched. Napalm with a rainbow afterglow.'

'Because freedom I am told, is nothing but the distance between the hunter and the prey.'

'Some days I feel like a human being, while other days more like a sound. I touch the world as not myself but as an echo of who I was. Can you hear me yet?'

'Because a bullet without a body, is a song without ears.'

'To see yourself still yourself is a refuge men who have not been denied, cannot know'

Let us know yours! Saili Narvekar

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