Ocean Vuong Shares His Advice for Aspiring Writers | Louisiana Channel

The Vietnamese-American poet and professor of creative writing encourage young writers to go off the road that has already been discovered and explored by others. “For so many queer folks, after a while, you realize that this road was never made with me in mind, and I have to stop the car, get out of it and climb over the guard rail.”

Ocean Vuong loved rules when starting as a young writer in his 20ies, and he compares following the rules with following the guard rails on the highway. Once he has climbed over the guard rail as a writer, he wanders far away from things that he has known, “far away from anything that has a name, a sign or a road signal. And I am in the middle of the forest, or the meadow, and I am terrified, I am washed by confusion and fear, and it is almost an electric, ecstatic terror that comes over me because I am truly lost. But I am perhaps also the most free I have ever been, every step I take is something new to me, it is a discovery, and from here, I have to make a life”.

Ocean Vuong was born in 1988 in Saigon, Vietnam, and raised in Hartford, Connecticut, in a working-class family of a nail salon and factory laborers. He was educated at nearby Manchester Community College before transferring to Pace University to study International Marketing. Without completing his first term, he dropped out of Business school and enrolled at Brooklyn College, where he graduated with a BA in Nineteenth-Century American Literature. He subsequently received his MFA in Poetry from NYU. He currently lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, and serves as a tenured Professor in the Creative Writing MFA Program at NYU. He published the bestselling novel, ‘On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous’ in 2019, and it has been translated into 37 languages. His first collection of poetry, ‘Night Sky with Exit Wounds’ appeared in 2016. Vuong is a recipient of a 2019 MacArthur “Genius” Grant and the winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Whiting Award, the Thom Gunn Award, and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. In 2022 Vuong published the collection of poetry’ Time is a Mother’.

Ocean Vuong was interviewed by his Danish translator, the poet Caspar Eric, in connection with the Louisiana Literature festival, at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark, in August 2022.

Camera: Simon Weyhe
Edit: Jarl Therkelsen Kaldan
Produced by Christian Lund
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2022
Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet, C.L. Davids Fond og Samling, and Fritz Hansen.

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