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Enjoy a collection of poetry and other word artistry curated by WNPR.

A Conversation With Ocean Vuong

Tom Hines
Ocean Vuong

Ocean Vuong emigrated to Hartford from Vietnam when he was two years old. His family brought with them the trauma of an American-led war that ravaged their people and their culture. How do they retain their culture and assimilate into one that doesn't want them?

His family struggled in a Hartford very different from the city that many of us experience. It's a place that still exists in the shadows.

Ocean’s family is a snapshot into a bigger and more pervasive picture of the problems in America that many choose to hide -- the toll of low-wage work, poverty, drugs, violence, and the erasure of histories and ways of living life that don't fit neatly into the American myth.

Ocean's first novel, On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, is an American story, albeit one about the failure of America. This is an excerpt.


  • Ocean Vuong - A poet and the author of the novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

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Colin McEnroe and Chion Wolf contributed to this show, which originally aired July 17, 2019.

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