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Award-winning poet Ocean Vuong’s debut full-length collection, Night Sky with Exit Wounds, has been hailed by critics for its powerful emotional undertow, sincerity and candor, and “sense of the evanescence of all earthly things” as Michiko Kakutani writes in The New York Times. Born in Saigon, Vietnam, and now a resident of New York City, Vuong’s poems navigate the overarching worlds of history, sexuality, and humanity with startling precision. Reflecting on how geographical and linguistic energies intersect and what it means to write as a Vietnamese refugee in the contemporary space, Vuong reads from and discusses his poetry with Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen, whose writing also often explores the Vietnamese American experience.

Ocean Vuong

Poet and essayist Ocean Vuong is the author of Night Sky with Exit Wounds, winner of the 2016 Whiting Award. A Ruth Lilly fellow from the Poetry Foundation, he has received many honors including fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, The Academy of American Poets, and the Pushcart Prize. Vuong’s writings have been featured in The Atlantic, The Nation, New Republic, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Village Voice, and American Poetry Review, which awarded him the Stanley Kunitz Prize for Younger Poets. Selected by Foreign Policy magazine as a 2016 100 Leading Global Thinker, Ocean has been featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” PBS NewsHour, VICE, and The New Yorker. Born in Saigon, Vietnam, he lives in New York City.


Viet Thanh Nguyen

Viet Thanh Nguyen was born in Vietnam and raised in America. His stories have appeared in Best New American Voices, TriQuarterly, Narrative, and the Chicago Tribune and he is the author of the academic book Race and Resistance. His first novel, The Sympathizer won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction and the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. His newest nonfiction book, Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War was be published in April 2016. He teaches English and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California.


Reservation Policy for Free Programs:
As most ALOUD at Central Library programs are free of charge, it is our policy to overbook. In the case of a FULL program your free reservation may not guarantee admission. We recommend arriving early. Space permitting, unclaimed reservations will be released to standby patrons at approximately 7 PM.

Standby Policy:
Standby numbers are distributed in person only one hour before the program, on a first-come, first-served, basis. There is no advance wait list for full programs. Standby patrons will be admitted subject to availability. Most programs will be available via podcast.

Book Signing Policy:
ALOUD is one of many free programs at the Los Angeles Public Library made possible by the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. Most ALOUD author programs are followed by book signings. At least one copy of the author’s book must be purchased from The Library Store in order to participate in any post-program book signing, and you will be asked to show proof of purchase. Please be prepared to show your proof of purchase when you enter the book signing line. Proceeds support the Los Angeles Public Library.

Main image: Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks, New York Credit: Stephen Weppler


Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the reservation policy for ALOUD?

    As most ALOUD at Central Library programs are free of charge, it is our policy to overbook. In the case of a FULL program your free reservation may not guarantee admission. We recommend arriving early. Space permitting, unclaimed reservations will be released to standby patrons at 7 PM.

  • Why do programs fill so quickly?

    ALOUD provides a unique experience for the public to engage with scholars, authors, and artists in the intimate 235-seat Mark Taper Auditorium. Library Foundation Members have the benefit of reserving for programs in advance of the public. Consider joining as a Member to receive this benefit, and check the website on an on-going basis for program availability. Be sure to subscribe to our email alerts, and visit our Media Archive for podcasts and other items from our recent programs.

  • Where does ALOUD take place?

    Unless otherwise noted, ALOUD programs are held at the downtown Central Library’s Mark Taper Auditorium.

  • Where should I park for ALOUD programs?

    We recommend taking public transportation. Parking for the Central Library is at the Westlawn Garage at 524 S. Flower Street. For more information, visit the Library’s website.

  • Should I purchase the author’s book in advance?

    We encourage you to purchase books from the Library Store. All proceeds benefit the Los Angeles Public Library. Books are made available for purchase when you reserve for a program online, and are also on sale at programs. In order to participate in the book signing, you must purchase at least one book from The Library Store. Members receive discounts on purchases.