A Poet’s Arrival

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The New Yorker profiles Ocean Vuong, who muses on the English language, growing up around women, Frank O’Hara, and the vestigial nature of clichés. And with his first book of poetry published just last week, he addresses the feelings of strangeness that accompany the act of making poetry and writing into a career:

When the poet-novelist Ben Lerner joined the faculty, he introduced Vuong to the notion that a life of writing might be possible. Before that, Vuong said, “I thought all poets were preordained. The government decided. Obama or Bush or whatever said, ‘You, you, you.’”


Theodora Messalas is a New York-based writer and editor who could easily be talked into going to grad school. More from this author →