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2022 - Shortlisted
A Thousand Crimson Blooms is a work of meticulously crafted lyricism, steady witness and vivid imagery. Under the surface of spare song, layers of resonance deepen each image, line and poem. Eileen Chong’s precise, musical poems undertake a restive exploration of loss and gain, grief and resilience.
Expanding from personal exploration, woven around ideas of maternal grief — both the losses sustained in mother/daughter connections and the speaker’s experience of IVF treatment — the poems venture outwards to witness intergenerational and social trauma. They burgeon into memorable depictions of the joys of new love and a rich, sensual life. The poems pass through loss to arrive in a moment of ‘the giving up of dead / things, taking into our selves only / what we have earned, and is sweet’.