Those Exit Wounds

Skipping the widely read novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, I went directly to Ocean Vuong’s debut poetry collection Night Sky with Exit Wounds. O these poetic five words!

It is so easy to be categorised as migration literature, as it is a genre way under-represented, but Night Sky with Exit Wounds is so much more. The poet unfolds his childhood experience like a painter painting shining stars on the night sky. Who would venture to think those are Sky’s Exit Wounds?

There are mother, women, and lots of running aways in the collection. Painfully, the poet gives the impression as if he were also running against his father. As if he were the moth, his father the fire. But “the fire” was absent, imaginary.

Ocean — named by his illiterate mother, is a name attached to a sound, soothing and borderless. It has nothing to do with words, since there is no words to describe this vast water base that can devour us, but ironically also connects continents.

Moving from continent to continent is a major change in people’s lives, regardless which generations. The pain, the confusion, the frustration can be traced back to the slave trade boats. Migration is sometimes less about voluntarily venture or adventure.

I enter my life the way words entered me — by falling through the silence of this wide open mouth. — Ocean Vuong

The atrocity of the war are unspeakable, yet Grandma passes it on, so did Bukowski.

And the wisdom passes on too —

Even sweetness can scratch the throat, so stir the sugar well. — grandma — Ocean Vuong

While reading poetry, sometimes we could “identify” the portrayed pain, as if we were the soul living in that body. When words draping over our shoulders, sometimes they can be equally heavy.

Ocean. ocean — get up. the most beautiful part of your body is wehre it’s headed. & remember, loneliness is still time spent with the world.

But this collection is not all about words. It is a collision, between continents, with style. Susan Sontag adored style, Zadie Smith discusses style as well. Various poets are constantly trying new style. Usually people double the eBook as a format for developing styles, but here with Ocean Vuong, it has reached a new level —

Poem “Seventh Circle of Earth” in Night Sky with Exit Wounds

There are only seven numbers in the body of the poem on the page. By clicking on each number, readers could read each stanza —

Poem “Seventh Circle of Earth” in Night Sky with Exit Wounds

Not owning a Paperback copy, I don’t know how was this style taken form. On the dark mode of the eReader, those seven numbers are like starts on the night sky. What a coincidence!

It is rare for an author to master every genre. (I’d die for Susan Sontag’s poems.) My next read would probably be On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous.