"Beautiful Short Loser" states, "I mean it when I say I'm mostly / male. That I recall every follicle in the failure the way they'll / remember god after religion: alone, impossible & good. / I know. I know the room you've been crying in / is called America. / I know the oor is not invented yet" (16). Just this snippet of the book shows how Vuong's poetry addresses the hardest issues head on and without shame. Gender, sexuality, and family ties are brought out into the open in these beautiful, thought-provoking poems.
Time is indeed a mother: loving, gentle, and harsh. After listening to a podcast interview about the book, I felt even more compelled to give these poems another read through. Vuong's poetry reminds me of what poetry does in general. It open my mind and tears up pre-existing beliefs. It expands my capacity to love and trust others. It helps me extend grace to those who hurt me. Time is a mother, and I'm learning from her every day.
To see the podcast episode featuring Ocean Vuong, click here.
Autumn Andersen is an editor for Penumbra Online and grad student at CSU Stanislaus. She enjoys reading, writing, and talking about her favorite shows.