On Thursday, September 21, 2017, Vuong received a £5,000 award for his book Night Sky With Exit Wounds from the Forward Prizes, the annual awards which have been dubbed the "poetry Oscars." Vuong was awarded the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection, an accolade previously won by writers including Simon Armitage and Don Paterson.
His debut collection, praised for its "precise, stark" imagery, can be read both as a personal story – of gay sexuality, absent fathers and hyphenated identities – and as a highly erudite exploration of poetry's possibilities. Jury chairman Andrew Marr said: "Ocean Vuong is a truly remarkable new voice. This exciting poet navigates different terrains, from personal traumas to history and mythology, with great skill and imagination. Formally daring, and rich in images, Night Sky with Exit Wounds is an incredibly accomplished first collection by an extraordinary talent."