”as the fields shreds itself with cricket cries” “thirst holds water” “apples thunder the earth with red hooves”

Reading Ocean Vuong feels freeing. For poetry’s possibilities to be truly reached, I need to open myself to everything. There are no rules. This is better a principle than “Ginhawa nawa.”

Why do I remember rem tanauan while reading Ocean Vuong? Because even if Rem wants poems he can easily understand, poems that make him feel good, he also like cryptic poems as long as they make him feel good.

I see sparks of images one after another in Ocean’s poems. The relationship between images are sometimes clear, sometimes not. But there are almost no concepts. No explanations. No telling. All showing. But the showing is playful and not really as clear as it could’ve been.

He starts with a base narrative. In Night Sky with Exit Wounds, many of his poems are about his childhood and his life as a queer. But some poems are based on historical events—but events that matter to him. Immigrant Haibun’s base narrative is a couple on a boat traversing the sea for safety. Refugees.

Ocean assembles certain scenes then sprinkles images around. I could highlight the worlds that describe the main story with a different color and the images and metaphor with another. Obviously, he didn’t write his prose or novel like this.



Vuong, O. (2016). Night Sky with Exit Wounds (Later Printing edition). Copper Canyon Press.