|Born||Vương Quốc Vinh|
October 14, 1988
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
|Occupation||Writer, poet, professor|
|Genre||Poetry, essays, novel|
|Notable works||On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous (2019)|
Ocean Vuong (born Vương Quốc Vinh, Vietnamese: [vɨəŋ˧ kuək˧˥ viɲ˧]; October 14, 1988) is a Vietnamese American poet, essayist and novelist. Vuong is a recipient of the 2014 Ruth Lilly/Sargent Rosenberg fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, a 2016 Whiting Award, and the 2017 T.S. Eliot Prize for his poetry. His debut novel, On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, was published in 2019. He received a MacArthur Grant the same year.
Vuong was born in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on a rice farm. His grandmother was a young woman who grew up in the countryside while his grandfather was a white American soldier in the Navy originally from Michigan. His grandparents met during the Vietnam War, married and had three children, Vuong's mother being one of them. His grandfather had gone back to visit home in the U.S. but was unable to return when Saigon fell to communist forces. His grandmother had separated his mother and aunts in orphanages, concerned for their survival before reuniting as adults. They fled Vietnam after a police officer came to suspect that his mother was of mixed heritage and in turn was working illegally under Vietnamese law.
A two-year-old Vuong and his family eventually arrived in a refugee camp in the Philippines before achieving asylum and migrating to the United States, settling in Hartford, Connecticut, United States with six relatives. His father abandoned his family after that. Vuong was reunited with his paternal grandfather later in life. Vuong, who suspects dyslexia runs in his family, was the first in his family to learn to read, at the age of eleven.
Vuong attended Glastonbury High School in Glastonbury, Connecticut, a school known for academic excellence. "I didn’t know how to make use of it," Vuong said, noting that his grade point average at one point was 1.7.
While in high school, he told fellow Glastonbury graduate Kat Chow he "understood he had to leave Connecticut." After spending some time at a community college, Vuong headed to Pace University, in New York, to study marketing. His time there lasted only a few weeks before he understood it wasn’t for him."
He then enrolled at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, where he studied 19th-century English literature under poet and novelist Ben Lerner, and received his B.A. in English. He received his M.F.A. in poetry from New York University.
Vuong's poems and essays have been published in various journals, including Poetry, The Nation, TriQuarterly, Guernica, The Rumpus, Boston Review, Narrative Magazine, The New Republic, The New Yorker, and The New York Times.
His first chapbook, Burnings (Sibling Rivalry Press), was a 2011 "Over The Rainbow" selection for notable books on nonheterosexuality by the American Library Association. His second chapbook, No (YesYes Books), was released in 2013. His debut full-length collection, Night Sky With Exit Wounds, was released by Copper Canyon Press in 2016; as of April that year, the publisher ran a second printing. His first novel, On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, was published by Penguin Press on June 4, 2019. Writing in The New Yorker, Jia Tolentino sees the "structural hallmarks of Vuong's poetry—his skill with elision, juxtaposition, and sequencing" in the novel. Paul Batchelor, writing about his first collection in New Statesman, remarks on the surreal imagery of his poems.
In August 2020, Vuong was revealed as the seventh writer to contribute to the Future Library project. The project, which compiles original works by writers each year from 2014 to 2114, will remain unread until the collected 100 works are eventually published in 2114. Discussing his contribution to the project, Vuong opined that, "So much of publishing is about seeing your name in the world, but this is the opposite, putting the future ghost of you forward. You and I will have to die in order for us to get these texts. That is a heady thing to write towards, so I will sit with it a while.”
Currently, Vuong lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, and is an associate professor in the MFA Program for Writers at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He is a Kundiman fellow.
|Academy of American Poets University and College Poetry Prize||2010|||
|Stanley Kunitz Prize for Younger Poets||2012|||
|The Elizabeth George Foundation Fellowship||2013|||
|Chad Walsh Prize, Beloit Poetry Journal||2013|||
|The Pushcart Prize||2014|||
|Ruth Lilly/Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship||2014|||
|The Narrative Prize||2015|||
|Whiting Award for Poetry||2016|||
|Forward Prize for Poetry Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection||2017|||
|T. S. Eliot Prize||2017|||
|Dylan Thomas Prize - Shortlisted for On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous||2020|||
|NAAAP Pride Award||2020|||
Vuong has described himself as being raised by women. His mother, a manicurist, gave him the name of Beach. During a conversation with a customer, Vuong's mother pronounced the word "beach" as "bitch". The customer suggested she use the word "ocean" to substitute for "beach". After learning the definition of the word ocean — the most massive classified body of water, such as the Pacific Ocean, which connects the United States and Vietnam — she renamed him Ocean.
Vuong is openly gay, and is a practicing Zen Buddhist.
|Trevor||2016||Vuong, Ocean (March 25, 2016). "Trevor". Buzzfeed.|
|Someday I'll love Ocean Vuong||2015||Vuong, Ocean (May 4, 2015). "Someday I'll love Ocean Vuong". The New Yorker. Vol. 91 no. 11. pp. 50–51.|
|Scavengers||2016||Vuong, Ocean (November 7, 2016). "Scavengers". The New Yorker. Vol. 92 no. 36. p. 51.|
|On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous||2014||Vuong, Ocean (December 2014). Poetry magazine. Winter 2014–2015.|