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14th January 2019

"Too often Western Sydney is seen as one homogenous blob" - Kevin Ngo reflects on Speaking to the suburbs

By Kevin Ngo

Image of "Too often Western Sydney is seen as one homogenous blob" - Kevin Ngo reflects on Speaking to the suburbs

When I was first asked to write a set of poems based on Western Sydney, I slightly freaked out. How do I write on a topic that does justice to a community and the area I live in? I quickly learned that would not be possible.

The name “Western Sydney” in itself is vague and broad, the Western Sydney of Blacktown is different to the Western Sydney of Campbelltown, is different to Liverpool, Bankstown etc etc. Too often Western Sydney is seen as one homogenous blob. While there are certainly shared characteristics, the souls of these suburbs are vastly different.

Read or listen to Kevin's poems:

So I forgot about trying to the represent “The Area”. My approach was to write of my own experiences, as someone living in a particular area in Western Sydney surrounded by certain people. My pieces do not reflect the community or the area but rather how these forces shaped and affected me. Some people will relate, some won’t, but hopefully these pieces will provide a small insight of one persons’ life in Western Sydney.

Being commissioned for the first time, I received a lot of comments from people saying “Be careful letting your work be edited” or “Make sure you stand you’re not taken advantage”

This of course, made me extremely nervous but I’ve been so lucky to have such a great experience with Red Room and Kristy. Having never worked with an editor before at no time was I ever made to feel like I had to compromise my work or my vision, yet it was balanced with a level of questioning and discussion which I appreciate so much and has allowed me to step up a few rungs on this ladder of writing.


Kevin Ngo
is a writer, performer and community arts worker based in South West Sydney.

Speaking the suburbs – Writing from the west is a project which seeks to share the unique perspectives of growing up and living in Sydney’s western suburbs. This project will provide mentoring, publishing and professional development opportunities for Western Sydney artists.

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