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For Buddhist poet and novelist Ocean Vuong, being an artist requires a willingness to get close to what scares him. As a writer, he sees language as an architecture to reckon with loss, both personal and communal, and his poetry is informed by his decades-long practice of death meditation. His latest collection, Time Is a Mother, was written in the aftermath of his mother’s death from breast cancer in late 2019 and offers an intimate portrait of grief, loss, and survival.

In today’s episode of Life As It Is, Tricycle editor-in-chief James Shaheen and co-host Sharon Salzberg sit down with Vuong to discuss Buddhist rituals of mourning, the poem as a death meditation, and how he protects his sense of wonder. To close, Vuong reads a poem from his new collection.

Life As It Is is a podcast series that features Buddhist practitioners speaking about their everyday lives. You can listen to more of Life As It Is on Spotify, iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and iHeartRadio.

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Sponsored by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art

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