On the Couch with Thuy On

Thuy-On-photo-by-Leah-Jing-McIntoshWho is Thuy On?
I’m the Reviews Editor for online publication ArtsHub and also a critic and a poet. My first collection of poetry, Turbulence, was published in 2020 by the University of Western Australia Publishing (UWAP). My second, Decadence, also published by UWAP, was released in July this year. Both books are about love and loss as well as the beauty of language in all its discrete building blocks: words, grammar and punctuation.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
Career-wise I’ve been an arts critic, editor and journalist for over 20 years, but I have only recently began writing poetry seriously. If I had my time again, I would have tried to write poetry earlier but then again, maybe I needed life experience first before turning to play with this exacting and precise form.

Who inspires you and why?
I’m inspired by all manner of creativity. So anyone who makes something out of nothing, whether that be a book, a song, a painting or a chair…the form itself is not important. I’m impressed by creators of all ilk.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Literacy is so very important to me; it’s the gateway to imagination, understanding and transportative escapism. If I were in a position of power, I’d ensure that every child is taught to appreciate books and has ready access to a personal library.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
I’ve only been there once but I would have to say Japan. The Japanese’s meticulous record keeping in terms of punctual (and clean) public transport, their love of order and efficiency, the heady contrast between the metropolis and the sleepy traditional villages, the ubiquitous vending machines offering a vast array of products, and the gorgeously wrapped food items all make it tempting for another visit.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to and why?
As a culture vulture and an arts reviewer and editor, I am across all the live performance in town so I’d probably take them to one. Why? Because the Melbourne arts scene is busy and vibrant and there is an abundance of talented performers raring to go who deserve an audience after multiple COVID lockdowns.

What are you currently reading?
Chris Flynn’s latest book, a collection of short stories called Here Be Leviathans. All the stories are narrated by non-human voices (including a grizzly bear, a aeroplane seat and a cruise ship), which sounds gimmicky but in the hands of a master writer like Flynn, are affecting and funny.

What are you currently listening to?
I don’t like loud abrasive music when I am working, so I usually have on Cat Power, Portishead, Gorillaz, classical music, anything soothing and not distracting.

Happiness is?
A cat nearby, a book, a cup of tea, and something to look forward to.

What does the future hold for you?
I am ten poems into my next collection of poetry so yes, working towards my third book. I am still undecided as to the title, but it will rhyme with both Turbulence and Decadence

Thuy On has just released her second collection of poetry titled Decadence – published by University of Western Australia Publishing (UWAP) and available from all leading book retailers. For more information, visit: www.uwap.uwa.edu.au for details.

Image: Thuy On – photo by Leah Jing McIntosh