Eileen Chong

Eileen Chong is a poet of Hakka, Hokkien and Peranakan descent. She is the author of nine books. Her work has shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award, the NSW Premier’s Literary Award Kenneth Slessor Prize, the NSW Premier’s Literary Award Multicultural Prize, and twice for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award, among other accolades. Her next collection, We Speak of Flowers, is forthcoming with UQP in 2025. She lives and works on unceded Gadigal land.


East Wind The gate is locked. A woman exits the house, and we enter. My grandmother takes her seat at the table: her braceleted arms intersect the others’ as they churn the tiles ceaselessly, dry seas breaking over papered felt. …

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Write how quiet it is. ‘Starvation Camp Near Jaslo’, Wislawa Szymborska The lines stretch out like a child’s drawing, wavering, circling the block. These are people; they clutch envelopes, papers, proof of lack. They are hungry, they are afraid of …

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Pantoum for My Parents

My mother listened to my poem, and it filled her with shame. My father asked me to explain it. I was both sorry and afraid, and it filled me with shame. My poem is about racism—and how I was sorry …

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And yet there are new shoots growing from the bamboo in the spring sunshine and the cat is warming himself on the pavers. The violets are ankle-deep and three snails have left their silver trails across the path where they …

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5 Translated Eileen Chong Poems

Image courtesy of The Planthunter / Red Room Company. Mid-Autumn Mooncakes It’s nearly mid-autumn. I spy the tins at the Asian grocer—gaudy red peonies unchanged for forty years. Of course I buy the mooncakes with double yolks: here in Australia, …

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… I must go in. Memory’s fog is rising. Selected Letters, Emily Dickinson In the corners mould is blooming like grey and black snowflakes. Next to the window, white paint blisters; water swells its skin. On winter mornings moisture ghosts …

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Review Short: Adam Aitken’s One Hundred Letters Home

It has taken me more than a hundred days to read Adam Aitken’s One Hundred Letters Home. The book arrived in my letterbox in Sydney at the beginning of May. Autumn turned into winter, and the fragments of Aitken’s palimpsest-memoir started to unfold themselves to me.

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‘Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.’ ‘Wild Geese’, Mary Oliver Over the empty distance between continents we transmit facsimiles of affection. Your daughter, the elder, has learnt to count. She can list the things I …

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