AMHERST, Mass. – The debut poetry collection from Ocean Vuong, assistant professor in the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s MFA Program for Poets and Writers, has been named a finalist for the 25th T.S. Eliot Prize, the United Kingdom’s most lucrative and prestigious poetry prize. His best-selling collection, Night Sky with Exit Wounds—which addresses themes of migration, America and his country of birth, Vietnam—is shortlisted for the prize against nine other books of poetry.
The T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry, inaugurated in 1993, has been described as “the prize most poets want to win” and “the world’s top poetry prize.” The £25,000 prize is awarded annually to the author of the best new collection of poetry published in the U.K. and Ireland. It is distinctive among poetry prizes in being judged by a panel of established poets. This year’s judges are Bill Herbert, James Lasdun and Helen Mort.
Previously, Vuong has been awarded the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. His writings have been featured in The Atlantic, The Nation, New Republic, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Village Voice, and American Poetry Review, which awarded him the Stanley Kunitz Prize for Younger Poets. Selected by Foreign Policy magazine as a 2016 “100 Leading Global Thinker,” alongside Hillary Clinton, Ban Ki-Moon and Warsan Shire, Vuong was also named by BuzzFeed Books as one of “32 Essential Asian American Writers” and has been profiled on NPR’s All Things Considered, PBS NewsHour, Teen Vogue, VICE, The Fantastic Man and The New Yorker.
Born in Saigon, Vietnam, he immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 2 as a child refugee.