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Memorial Hall Library

An Online Conversation with Author & Poet Ocean Vuong: On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous (on Zoom)

Thursday, May 26, 2022 - 7:00pm

Join us for a very special event with prize-winning poet, novelist and educator Ocean Vuong, author of the One Book Chelmsford 2022 selection, On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, in conversatiocean vuongon with Professor on earth we're briefly gorgeousSandra Lim, Ph.D., prize-winning poet, and professor of English at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell.

A brief reading will be followed by a conversation between our esteemed guests. Questions for the author can be submitted in advance to to be forwarded to Professor Lim.

Register through Zoom.

About the author:

Ocean Vuong is the author of the critically acclaimed poetry collection Night Sky with Exit Wounds and the New York Times bestselling novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. A recipient of the 2019 MacArthur “Genius” Grant, he is also the winner of the Whiting Award and the T.S. Eliot Prize. His writings have been featured in The AtlanticHarper's Magazine,The Nation,The New RepublicThe New Yorker, and The New York Times. Born in Saigon, Vietnam, he currently lives in Northampton, Massachusetts. (Photo credit, Tom Hines)

About the novel:

The book is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, it navigates a family’s history that began before he was born—a history whose epicenter is rooted in Vietnam—and becomes a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known. The son serves as witness to his mother’s story, from her undeniable love for her family and her determination to survive in Vietnam, then in the United States, to her struggles with mental health and unflinching accounts of her physical abuse. As he unearths his family’s journey to present day, as he seeks understanding, it leads to an unforgettable revelation about what it means to tell your own story—and the silence of going unheard. What happens to language and storytelling as a tool of communication when a listener is not promised?

A masterful work of fiction, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a brutally honest exploration of race, class, sexuality, masculinity, aging,and dying. Vuong asks questions central to our American moment, immersed as we are in addiction, violence, and trauma, but undergirded by compassion and tenderness. Having survived trauma, how do we survive its aftermath? How do we make of it a kind of joy—and, above all, a kind of life? These questions power one of the most important debut novels of many years. With stunning urgency and grace, Vuong writes of people caught between disparate worlds, and asks how we heal and rescue one another without forsaking who we are.

About Sandra Lim:

Sandra Lim is the author of three collections of poetry: most recently, The Curious Thing (W.W. Norton, 2021); The Wilderness (W.W. Norton, 2014), and Loveliest Grotesque (Kore Press, 2006). She has received the Barnard Women Poets Prize, the Levis Reading Prize, a Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and also serves on the poetry faculty in the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers. Born in Seoul, Korea, she lives in Cambridge, MA.

Presented by Chelmsford Public Library in partnership with the public libraries in Andover, Boxford, Carlisle, Danvers, Dracut, Groton, Groveland, Holden, Lowell, Methuen, Newburyport, South Hamilton, Tewksbury, and West Newbury.