It doesn’t mean you’re blocked. This is not cocktail conversation,” what have you. Is that right? Your family — and in your case, your family was not just fleeing a war, and in the aftermath of war, and surviving that, but it was our war. But none of us would have guessed that within a handful of days such an event would become unimaginable. And then how do we get to the pinnacles, the bright-lit room of her peaks? Written and read by Tippett: Yeah, even that notion that language is clear, even this presumption that we walk around making, that what we mean when we use any word transmits perfectly to another. Right? And I think — because what happens is that through the body and through service, you articulate it through paying attention. I went through the American education system, for better, for worse. “You’re killing it.”, Tippett: You’re so acute about the violence of the American lexicon …. Tippett: He didn’t know he was Jewish, so …. I have to say that probably I’ve been listening to Krista for as long as I can remember, and this has to be one of the most moving, tender, beyond words conversations I’ve heard. Tippett: After a short break, more with Ocean Vuong. But I think it’s also a question integral to our species. I said, “You’re working on a poem or story, when you’re hitting a dead end, when it’s not going, take it with you. The textbook says, “Well, first of all, here’s five chapters on George Washington … ”, “ … what he ate, what kind of teeth he had … ”. And I was able to read, but my fluid, chapter-book reading, when I could just sit down and read a book, didn’t happen until I was 11. Speaking of the body and walking and movement, I want to close — you wrote this beautiful essay in The Rumpus in 2014, called “The Weight of Our Living: On Hope, Fire Escapes, and Visible Desperation.” Part of the context of that piece was your uncle’s death by suicide. Yikes.”, [laughs] What do we do? What an incredible mythos to work and live by, which is that when the apocalypse comes, what will you put into the vessel for the future? I could be saying anything, but if my tone changes, my little dog, Tofu …. Less than six weeks later, his mother, Rose, died at age 51, not long after being diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. Vuong: A lot of the magazines, they say, 11. And I think, for me, whatever my mother presented to me, those early mornings in front of the altar, is still true. “Sometimes being offered tenderness,” writes Vuong, “feels like the very proof that you’ve been ruined.” Ocean Vuong aged two with his aunt and mother at a Philippines refugee camp. “This is a battleground state.”, But we’re in battleground states. I didn’t want to suggest that …. I love this room, and I love the energy in it that you all are bringing. He knows. I want to stay there until the building burns down. But to have the human voice to work with, and to get everything that the human voice carries — it is the body — is really magical, to really be able to completely focus on that. Tippett: So you mentioned the Buddhist practice that was part of your childhood, that you then rediscover and make your own, as an adult. And there was a photographer who went around — even in a refugee camp, it’s a microcosm of the world. It’s really concentrated. And we are scared.”, Vuong: It was such a blow. The On Being Project is located on Dakota land. Ocean Vuong is an assistant professor of English in the MFA Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. tay up to date with our latest podcasts, writings, live events, and more. So …, … sometimes, I gotta rein it back. Kalliopeia Foundation. Tippett: It’s also very moving and interesting to me, the way you — and you’ve started talking about this — you write about how Vietnamese culture that you were immersed in, how language is so embodied. [laughs] “Let’s try it out.” And I think the way language exists is similar to — when I was in Hartford, we were surrounded by these abandoned buildings, these old factories. Vuong: Absolutely, at the subconscious level. Vuong: Yeah. Ocean Vuong is an assistant professor of English in the MFA Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. You have to articulate the world you want to live in first. And so I think it’s valuable to open up that debate again. And to me, that’s what language is: the glass. And then all the pettiness — the little angers that you have with those you love, with those you don’t love, and your neighbor, the little things — falls away, it’s so small, when the ultimate, lasting reality is death.
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