Ocean Vuong – a mother of time. Poetry – SWR2

Vietnamese-American writer Ocean Vuong has found success. In recent years he has been overwhelmed by awards and grants. Yet, he sees himself as “losing in a winning streak” as he writes in his new book. “Time is a Mother” is a dark and courageous collection of poems where Ocean Vuong bids farewell to his mother, who died in 2019, and redefines his relationship with the world.

Anyone who enters the new volume of Ocean Vuong’s poetry almost immediately stands in the snow. Snow is important in this area. He falls, he lies, he is kicked out.

The first lesson of the first part is therefore called “Snow Theory”. Pure white material, this snow. Best desk pads, less for sound than body.

We have lost what is with us forever
In the snow: my mother’s dry outline
Promise you won’t go away anymore, I said
She lay there for a moment, she thought
One by one the lights of the house were turned off
I lay down on his outline, wanting to keep him that way
(Ocean Vuong: “The Theory of Snow” to “Time is a Mother”, p. 15)

This is probably Ocean Bhuang himself, surrounded by his mother’s snow. Because in the volume ‘Time is a mother’. His A well-known, subtly clear voice that speaks and speaks of people who have already appeared in its previous two books. So it is advisable to know a little about Vuong’s biography. At the forefront is the mother, who once fled Vietnam to the United States with a two-year-old ocean. He worked at a nail salon for over twenty years.

Last got $ 8.48
Scratch out the glass.
Your tip from day one
At the nail salon
(Ocean Vuong: “From the Feathers” from Time is a Mother, p. 39)

Ocean Vuong’s mother died in November 2019 at the age of just 51. She had cancer.

“I have a sick body,
Then mother will die. “
Ocean Vung quotes from Roland Barthes’ “Diary of Sorrow,” which he mentions in his novel On Earth We Are Briefly Great. Mom was still alive, and Bhuong’s book was a long letter to her. This form is repeated in his poems. Again, he speaks directly to those he loves.

“Dear Sara” is the name of the poem for her cousin, where explosions play a role. How many times has violence spread with Vuong and many weapons are involved. Is this still Vietnam or already America?

“Dear Peter” was then a psychiatric ward poem for her boyfriend Peter Bienkowski.

“Favorite Tea” is probably addressed to childhood friend Trevor, who died at a young age due to drugs, such as Ocean Vuong’s first autobiographical novel and “Favorite Rose”, a ten-page poem about his mother, which the now 33-year-old revisits. The old man summed up the moments of his life. It was also a major theme in the novel “On Earth We Are Briefly Great”. All those thoughts over and over again, going back.

Why is the past always long?
(Ocean Vuong: “Beautiful Short Loser” from Time is a Mother, (p. 22)

Vuong asked at one point. And yes, he seems to be obsessed with what was and is forever lost. In a ten-page long poem entitled “Künstlerroman” he airs the film – apparently – His Back to life again.

He walked back past Cornfield (where he lost his dog cheetah at the age of seven and sat crying in the corn for two hours) and picked up the jacket hanging over a broken fire hydrant. She puts it down and heads back to her mother’s house, where in a dirty kitchen she kisses her cheek as the fifty dollar bill slips from her hand and then goes back to her bra. She climbs the stairs, enters the bathroom, and lets the sink vomit rise into her mouth. Your nose up again. Shaking hands.
(Ocean Vuong: Time is a Mother, pp. 67f. To “Artist Novel”)

There is a lot of trembling, pain and death in this book. An Evan shoots himself in a chicken coop. Four friends are floating in their blood. The first-person narrator took the anti-panic drug Xanax. At one point, there was a hint of abuse from a friend of the mother. Endangered life.

Once upon a time
I just go to parties to be with people
Hang your legs from the tall windows.
(Ocean Vuong: “The Last Prom Queen of Antarctica” from Time is a Mother, p. 41)

In his third book, Ocean Vuong seems more fragile than ever. Although one can still read his earlier books from a historical-sociological point of view, such as “Time is a Mother”, it is no longer too informative to know anything about the living conditions of Vietnamese gay Americans with a lot of blood in their blood. Rather, in this sense, it is a very personal book that still speaks from the hearts of many: the advanced self-position of a sensitive young man with many dirty experiences. He doesn’t really believe in his literary success – in recent years he has been overwhelmed by awards and grants.

I am a loser in a winning streak.
(Ocean Vuong: “Beautiful Short Loser” from Time is a Mother, p. 22)

A loser, however, who supports and decides when writing. Unfortunately, the role that words and rhythms play in this is not always completely clear in the rich German language. In “Night Sky with Exit Wounds” one can always read the English original on the left side, but unfortunately this is not possible in the monolingual version of “Time is a Mother”. But what you can see: sometimes long cascades, but sometimes only short lines, which are clearly fragmented and still form exactly the form with which Ocean Vuong fits. And I’m sure many readers will too. So his third book is now available, which says a lot about loneliness and so cuts it off a bit.

After I got out of everything
What have I lost?
Build an ark for me.
(Ocean Vuong: “No one knows where it Goes to heaven” from Time is a Mother, p. 90)

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