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Thursday, May 20, 2021

'A Thousand Crimson Blooms' by Eileen Chong


'A Thousand Crimson Blooms' is the latest poetry collection from Australian writer Eileen Chong, published by University of Queensland Press.

This collection is a layering of time and longing. It exists in a liminal space between memory and the present, one triggering the other and then reverberating back to the here and now - before reaching again and deeper into history and poignant memory.

Chong writes with an absolutely sublime touch; precise words and sentences that I can only imagine were painstakingly curated, read feather-light on the page; Denouement of days:

And then sometimes that sparsity screams with a much deeper meaning. Almost skittering a sentence, swerving as though the pain is too deep to linger; I was angry. She was ashamed.

There's so many threads and themes throughout this slim collection, it's amazing what Chong has managed to pack in - and again with that interplay of light touch and staccato hurt. The one that I found spoke to me profoundly was the turning points of mother/daughter relationships, motherhood and infant loss, miscarriage. These are heavy topics and Chong really opens herself up on the page in truly cathartic ways, full of grace.

My mother cannot
craft in art what she never saw in life.

I thought this collection was superb. I always feel better for welcoming poetry into my reading, and sitting with Eileen Chong and this book was a very special experience.

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