Eileen Chong

Summer, Rain

the afternoon heat nearly unbearable we spill forth, naked, towards the water cautiously picking our way to avoid submerged rocks and broken branches read the current, you call out I am tired of reading everything three cormorants perch on the …

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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: Eileen Chong’s Painting Red Orchids

In his short story ‘A Little Ramble’, champion of the anti-heroic Robert Walser says, ‘We don’t need to see anything out of the ordinary. We already see so much’. In her third collection, Painting Red Orchids, Singaporean Australian Eileen Chong testifies to ordinary experience as the sensory and emotional kaleidoscope of the individual.

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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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Kim Cheng Boey Reviews Eileen Chong

In a suite of three poems praising the legendary beauty, Consort Yang Guifei, the Tang poet Li Bai draws on the virtues of the peony, a flower that with its luxuriant petals and luminous colours embodies feminine beauty and allure.

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DAS GEDICHT + Cordite = Deutsch Poems of Campbell, Chong, Fischer, Leber, Skovron, Vickery and Wright

Cordite Poetry Review has teamed up with venerable German literary magazine, DAS GEDICHT, to publish translations of Australian works into German. These translations are directly aimed for German readership (this is to say that the English originals are not on …

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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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Siobhan Hodge Reviews Eileen Chong

Eileen Chong’s Burning Rice is steeped in images of food, family and connectivity. The poems thematically span geographical and chronological distances in order to make links between cultural and ancestral origins. Culinary references combine to create comforting images of solidarity in the face of isolation and anxiety. However, this is not a chapbook wholly steeped in nostalgia.

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Asian Australian Diasporic Poets: A Commentary

This essay provides a survey of the poetry of some Asian Australian poets, and does not attempt to be definitive. Diasporic poetics raise more questions than they answer and are just as much about dis-placement as about place, just as much about a ‘poetics of uncertainty’ as about certainties of style/nation/identity.

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