Andrew Marr, head of the judging panel, praised the Vietnamese-American as “a truly remarkable new voice”. He said: “This exciting poet navigates different terrains, from personal traumas to history and mythology, with great skill and imagination. Formally daring, and rich in images, Night Sky with Exit Wounds is an incredibly accomplished first collection by an extraordinary talent.”
Vuong was one of three winners in a glitzy award ceremony at London’s Royal Festival Hall. Irish poet Sinéad Morrissey won the £10,000 prize for Best Collection for her sixth book, On Balance, a collection which builds on her talent for depicting well-known historical events an unexpected vantage-point. The book includes poems about the launch of the Titanic, the Beatles’ visit to Nottingham, and the bones of Napoleon’s horse – a “portal, time machine, skeleton key/ to what cannot be imagined”.