Time Is a Mother

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Author:  Ocean Vuong

Category: Poems

Book Name: Time Is a Mother


Book Review:

Time Is a Mother“Time Is a Mother” is a collection of poems written by Ocean Vuong, a Vietnamese-American poet, and novelist. The book was first published in 2021 and it has since received widespread critical acclaim for its raw and emotional exploration of themes such as love, loss, memory, and identity.

The poems in “Time Is a Mother” are deeply personal and often autobiographical, drawing on Vuong’s own experiences growing up as a refugee in America and grappling with questions of race, sexuality, and belonging. The book is divided into four sections, each of which explores a different aspect of Vuong’s life and artistic vision.

Throughout the collection, Vuong’s language is both lyrical and precise, blending vivid sensory details with powerful insights into the human condition. His poems range in tone from wistful and nostalgic to angry and defiant, but all of them are marked by a profound empathy for the struggles of others and a deep sense of hope for a better future.

Overall, “Time Is a Mother” is a stunning and deeply moving work of poetry that speaks to the complexities of the human experience and the power of language to heal and transform. It is a must-read for anyone interested in contemporary poetry or the ongoing struggle for social justice and equality.

One of the notable features of “Time Is a Mother” is Vuong’s skillful use of imagery and metaphor. His poetry is rich with vivid descriptions of the natural world, which he uses to explore the complexities of human emotion and experience. For example, in the poem “Trevor”, he writes:

“Each dawn, the sun rises like a hot air balloon

and I am the basket, tethered

to the earth by the weight of my own fear.”

Here, the image of the sun rising like a hot air balloon creates a sense of both beauty and impermanence, underscoring the fragility of human existence.

Another prominent theme in “Time Is a Mother” is the idea of memory and its power to shape our understanding of ourselves and others. Many of Vuong’s poems explore the ways in which memory can be both a source of comfort and a burden, as in the hauntingly beautiful “Photograph of My Father in His Twenty-Second Year”, where he writes:

“In the photograph, my father’s eyes are always wandering off the frame. I think he wants to be with his brothers who, even then, were dying on their own.”

Through this powerful imagery, Vuong captures the complexities of familial love and the lasting impact of loss.

Overall, “Time Is a Mother” is a remarkable collection of poetry that showcases Vuong’s considerable talents as a writer and thinker. His poetry is at once deeply personal and universal, touching on themes that resonate with readers of all backgrounds and experiences. It is a book that will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it, and one that is sure to become a classic of contemporary American poetry.


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