Merit in quietude

Two new poetry collections by Eileen Chong and Thuy On
by
July 2021, no. 433

A Thousand Crimson Blooms by Eileen Chong

University of Queensland Press, $24.99 pb, 86 pp

Buy this book
Book Cover 2 Small

Turbulence

by Thuy On

UWA Publishing, $22.99 pb, 150 pp

Buy this book

Merit in quietude

Two new poetry collections by Eileen Chong and Thuy On
by
July 2021, no. 433

The biographical note to A Thousand Crimson Blooms observes that Eileen Chong’s first book, Burning Rice (2012), is ‘the first single-author collection of poetry by an Asian-Australian to be studied as part of the NSW HSC English syllabus’. Having run many writing workshops for students and adults over the years, Chong takes her pedagogy as seriously as her poetry. It’s no surprise, then, that A Thousand Crimson Blooms, Chong’s fifth collection, is replete with scenes of instruction. In ‘Teacher’, the poet corrects her mother’s pronunciation (‘I say TEAcher, then, I say teacher.  / … I feel like an arsehole’) only to stand corrected by memories of her mother’s gentler tutelage. The collection’s dedicatee, Chong’s grandmother, metes out corporal punishment in ‘Hunger’, but has her own body disciplined in ‘Float’. The poet learns the meaning of ‘thole’ (Scottish for ‘to endure / what is barely bearable’) and after surgery discloses the origins of her nurse’s name. If there is pathos evoked by these anecdotes, much of it has to do with the way knowledge – how to care for the body, where to look for the roots of words – helps the poet overcome the inertia occasioned by violence, whether racial, sexual, or medical.

James Jiang reviews 'A Thousand Crimson Blooms' by Eileen Chong and 'Turbulence' by Thuy On

A Thousand Crimson Blooms

by Eileen Chong

University of Queensland Press, $24.99 pb, 86 pp

Buy this book
Book Cover 2 Small

Turbulence

by Thuy On

UWA Publishing, $22.99 pb, 150 pp

Buy this book

From the New Issue

Comments (2)

  • Posted by James Jiang
    24 June 2021
  • Posted by Judith Bishop
    23 June 2021

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