Ocean Vuong was awarded the prestigious T.S. Eliot Prize at an award ceremony at the Wallace Collection in London last night. In an emotional speech Ocean claimed: 'above all I believe in the unsurpassed power of language. Despite events in the world, at the end of the day, our words are building bridges... Together'.
The winner received £25,000, an increased amount on previous years to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the prize. His poetry will also feature on a special UK postmark, in an exciting collaboration with Royal Mail which will bring poetry into the everyday lives of many.
Vietnamese-born Ocean Vuong spent a year in a refugee camp as a baby and moved to the US aged two. He now works as an assistant professor in the MFA programme at the University of Massachusetts. Night Sky With Exit Wounds is his deut collection and was selected as a PBS Summer 2017 Recommendation. You can read a full interview with Ocean in our Summer Bulletin which is available for order here.
Chair of the judges, Bill Herbert, said 'there is an incredible power in the story of this collection. It deals with the aftermath of war and migration over three generations. It is a compellingly assured debut, the definitive arrival of a significant voice.'
PBS members can order copies of Night Sky With Exit Wounds and all the shortlisted collections with 25% discount here. You can also listen to Ocean Vuong being interviewed at the award ceremony on BBC Radio 4's Front Row.