Normally, I am rather put off by contemporary poetry. It overwhelms me and more often than not, I cannot relate to it or understand why the critics are so much in awe of a particular volume. At moments like these I wonder, is there something wrong with me? Or perhaps, am I not mature enough to read poetry?
Luckily, once in a blue moon I find poems which hit me hard, but in a positive way. I can sense the power of words in them, I contemplate the phrases for hours and come back, often multiple times, to my favorite parts. This was my experience with Ocean Vuong’s Night Sky with Exit Wounds.
Ocean Vuong was born close to Saigon in Vietnam. At the age of two, after spending a year in a refugee camp, he and his family came to the United States. In his poems, he writes about Vietnam, his confusion and isolation, the life of an immigrant and his search for love. And this he does in a way, which makes me come back over and over again.