Mary Jean Chan

One of Jackie Kay’s selected writers for the International Literature Showcase


“Her work has an astounding urgency to it. A poet of our time – she captures the newness of everything, stepping into a gay bar for the first time. Her poetry is psychologically astute and culturally complex.’”

Jackie Kay


Poet, editor, academic. Londoner from Hong Kong.

Mary Jean Chan is the author of Flèche, published by Faber & Faber (2019) and Faber USA (2020). Flèche won the 2019 Costa Book Award for Poetry and was shortlisted in 2020 for the International Dylan Thomas Prize, the John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Prize, the Jhalak Prize and the Seamus Heaney Centre First Collection Poetry Prize. Chan won the 2018 Geoffrey Dearmer Prize and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem in 2017 and 2019, receiving an Eric Gregory Award in 2019. Chan was guest co-editor alongside Will Harris at The Poetry Review. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Chan is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing (Poetry) at Oxford Brookes University and tutors on the MSt in Creative Writing at the University of Oxford.

Listen to an interview with Mary on BBC Radio 4 Front Row

‘Sparkling and vulnerable…the arrival of an essential new voice.’ – Sarah Howe

‘Mary Jean Chan is a poet, editor and critic whose work is at once incisive and nuanced, intimate and international.’ – Emily Hasler, Poetry International

‘Chan is an assured writer in many forms. Her art is both fastidious and direct.’ – Alison Brackenbury, Under the Radar Magazine

‘[Chan’s] poetry is taut, intellectual but with heart – a rare combination.’ – Stephanie Green, Glasgow Review of Books

‘Key to Chan’s power and complexity as a poet is her empathy for the historical trauma visited upon her mother’s generation within the Chinese diaspora.’ – Alice Hiller, Harana Poetry

“[An] extraordinary, brilliant and searingly honest collection…beautifully governed by formal rigour and literary excellence.” – The Poetry Review

“[Chan] is one of those rare poets who leave you looking up with a sense that you can engage even the smallest part of the world around you with a much greater intensity.” –​ PN Review

“Chan has picked a perfect title, one that is as expansive and evocative as the poems that it encompasses.” –​ The Hong Kong Review of Books

“As [a] governing metaphor and organising principle…the sport [of fencing] provides enlivening strategies for the poetic realisation of loss and rebellion.” –​ The Guardian

I am deeply honored to be selected for the ILS by Jackie Kay, a poet and novelist whose work I love.

Mary Jean


Poetry Collections / Pamphlets

Flèche (Faber & Faber, 2019)

A Hurry of English (ignitionpress, 2018)

Articles / Essays

‘Towards a Poetics of Racial Trauma: Lyric Hybridity in Claudia Rankine’s Citizen’ The Journal of American Studies (2018)

‘Queerness as Translation: From Linear Time to Playtime’ Modern Poetry in Translation (2018)

‘Meeting Point: On Being a Chinese Poet Writing in English’ Wild Court, King’s College London (2017)

‘What Is It That You Love?’ Callaloo: A Journal of African Diaspora Arts and Letters (2016)

Contact Mary Jean



Twitter: @maryjean_chan

Instagram: @maryjeanchan


Aitken Alexander Associates: Emma Paterson


Faber & Faber: Kate Burton


Main image by Adrian Pope.