16 January 2018
Ocean Vuong / The T.S Elliot prize

Jonathan Cape poet Ocean Vuong has won the 2017 T. S. Eliot prize for his debut poetry collection, Night Sky With Exit Wounds.

Ocean was presented with a cheque for £25,000 at a ceremony at the Wallace Collection in central London yesterday evening. This builds on an already exciting year for Ocean, who won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection last year. Speaking about Vuong's collection, Chair of Judges Bill Herbert said: 'It is a compellingly assured debut, the definitive arrival of a significant voice.'

Ocean Vuong

The Prize, described by Andrew Motion as the one “most poets want to win”, is an annual prize for the best new poetry collection published in the UK or Ireland. This year, as well as Ocean's collection, three other poetry collections published by Jonathan Cape also made the shortlist - Leontia Flynn's The Radio, Michael Symmons Roberts' Mancunia and James Sheard's The Abandoned Settlements.

To honour 25 years of the Prize, the T. S. Eliot Foundation has revealed a partnership with the Poetry Archive as well as a special postmark from the Royal Mail, celebrating Ocean's win. The postmark will be applied to the majority of stamped mail that the company delivers to over 30 million addresses across the UK each day, which the Prize described as 'a wonderful boost for poetry.'

Celebrating poetry at Penguin Random House

Night Sky with Exit Wounds

An extraordinary debut from a young Vietnamese American, Night Sky with Exit Wounds is a book of poetry unlike any other. Steeped in war and cultural upheaval and wielding a fresh new language, Vuong writes about the most profound subjects – love and loss, conflict, grief, memory and desire – and attends to them all with lines that feel newly-minted, graceful in their cadences, passionate and hungry in their tender, close attention: ‘…the chief of police/facedown in a pool of Coca-Cola./A palm-sized photo of his father soaking/beside his left ear.’ This is an unusual, important book: both gentle and visceral, vulnerable and assured, and its blend of humanity and power make it one of the best first collections of poetry to come out of America in years.

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