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Time Is a Mother

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Notes From Your Bookseller

If you were as moved by Ocean Vuong’s novel On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous as we were, then now is the moment to absorb his poetry in Time Is a Mother. And then we urge you to go back to his debut poetry book, Night Sky with Exit Wounds. Voung’s lyrical writing runs through all his books — whether poetry or prose. You will always do right to keep his work at the ready.

A TIME Magazine Best Book of 2022

The New York Times-bestselling collection of poems from the award-winning writer Ocean Vuong

"Take your time with these poems, and return to them often.” —The Washington Post

How else do we return to ourselves but to fold
The page so it points to the good part

In this deeply intimate second poetry collection, Ocean Vuong searches for life among the aftershocks of his mother’s death, embodying the paradox of sitting within grief while being determined to survive beyond it. Shifting through memory, and in concert with the themes of his novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, Vuong contends with personal loss, the meaning of family, and the cost of being the product of an American war in America. At once vivid, brave, and propulsive, Vuong’s poems circle fragmented lives to find both restoration as well as the epicenter of the break.

The author of the critically acclaimed poetry collection Night Sky With Exit Wounds, winner of the 2016 Whiting Award, the 2017 T. S. Eliot Prize, and a 2019 MacArthur fellow, Vuong writes directly to our humanity without losing sight of the current moment. These poems represent a more innovative and daring experimentation with language and form, illuminating how the themes we perennially live in and question are truly inexhaustible. Bold and prescient, and a testament to tenderness in the face of violence, Time Is a Mother is a return and a forging forth all at once.

ISBN-13: 9780593300237

Media Type: Hardcover

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Publication Date: 04-05-2022

Pages: 128

Product Dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.80(d)

Ocean Vuong is the author of the critically acclaimed poetry collection Night Sky with Exit Wounds and the New York Times bestselling novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. A recipient of the 2019 MacArthur "Genius Grant," he is also the winner of the Whiting Award and the T. S. Eliot Prize. His writings have been featured in The Atlantic, Harper's Magazine, The Nation, The New Republic, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. Born in Saigon, Vietnam, he currently lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Read an Excerpt


Snow Theory

This is the best day ever
I haven't killed a thing since 2006
The darkness out there, wet as a newborn
I dog-eared the book & immediately
Thought of masturbation
How else do we return to ourselves but to fold
The page so it points to the good part
Another country burning on TV
What we'll always have is something we lost
In the snow, the dry outline of my mother
Promise me you won't vanish again, I said
She lay there awhile, thinking it over
One by one the houses turned off their lights
I lay down over her outline, to keep her true
Together we made an angel
It looked like something being destroyed in a blizzard
I haven't killed a thing since