• About


    Mary Jean Chan (b. 1990) was born and raised in Hong Kong, and studied at Swarthmore College, the University of Oxford and Royal Holloway, University of London. Her poetry has appeared in The Poetry Review, Poetry London, The White Review, PN Review, Ambit, English: Journal of the English Association, The Forward Book of Poetry and Carcanet New Poetries VII. She is the author of A Hurry of English, which was selected as the 2018 Poetry Book Society Summer Pamphlet Choice. Her debut collection Flèche is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, and is forthcoming from Faber & Faber in July 2019.


    In 2017, Mary Jean won the Anne Born Prize and the Poetry and Psychoanalysis Competition, came Second in the National Poetry Competition, and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. She was named as one of the UK's 8 inaugural Ledbury Emerging Poetry Critics in 2018, and has since written reviews for The Guardian and The Hong Kong Review of Books. Her articles and essays have appeared in The Journal of American Studies, Wild Court and Modern Poetry in Translation, with newer work forthcoming from The Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry. In 2019, Mary Jean will judge the Poetry Business New Poets Prize and co-judge the Stephen Spender Prize for Poetry in Translation. She will also feature as one of 10 writers selected by the Scottish Makar, Jackie Kay, for the 2019 International Literature Showcase on BAME writers in the UK.


    An editor of Oxford Poetry, advisory board member at the Poetry Translation Centre and member of The Folio Prize Academy, Mary Jean is Lecturer in Creative Writing (Poetry) at Oxford Brookes University and lives in London.


  • Poetry Book Society Recommendation


    Faber & Faber

    4 July 2019

    Flèche (the French word for ‘arrow’) is an offensive technique commonly used in fencing, a competitive sport of the poet’s young adult years. This cross-linguistic pun presents the queer, non-white body as both vulnerable (‘flesh’) and weaponised (‘flèche') and evokes the difficulties of reconciling one’s need for safety alongside the desire to shed one’s protective armour in order to fully embrace the world. Central to the collection is the figure of the poet’s mother, whose fragmented memories of political turmoil in 20th century China are sensitively threaded through the book in an eight-part poetic sequence. As complex themes of multilingualism, queerness, psychoanalysis and cultural history emerge, so too does a richly imagined personal, maternal and national biography. The result is a series of poems that feel urgent and true, dazzling and devastating by turns.

  • PAMPhlet

    Poetry Book Society Summer Pamphlet Choice (2018)



    Praise for A Hurry of English:


    Chan is an assured writer in many forms. Her art is both fastidious and direct. - Alison Brackenbury


    Sparkling and vulnerable...the arrival of an essential new voice. - Sarah Howe

  • Anthologies

    Selected Publications

    Published by Faber & Faber (2018)

    My poem "//" (shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem) appears here.

    Published by Carcanet Press (2018)

    A selection of my work appears here.

    Published by Boiler House Press (2018)

    Two of my poems, "Hybridity" and "Dress", appear here.

    Published by Bad Betty Press (2018)

    Two of my poems, "Dragon Hill Spa" and "Rise and Shine", appear here.

    Published by Pan Macmillan Children's Books (2018)

    My poem "Practice" appears here.

    Published by Verve Poetry Press (2018)

    My poem "A Lover's Manual" appears here.

    Published by Faber & Faber (2018)

    My poem "Truce" appears here.

    Published by Valley Press (forthcoming)

    My poem "Dress" appears here.

    Published by Doubleday UK (forthcoming)

    My poem "They Would Have All That" appears here.

    Contemporary Poetry from Great Britain & Northern Ireland

    Published by Platypus Press (forthcoming)

    My poem "Song" appears here.

    Tell Me the Truth About Life: 100 Poems that Matter

    Published by Michael O' Mara Books/Forward Arts Foundation (forthcoming)

    My poem "what my mother (a poet) might say" appears here.

  • Articles & Essays

    Selected Publications

    Modern Poetry in Translation:

    The Best of World Poetry (2018)

    Wild Court, the English Department of

    King's College London (2017)

  • Appearances



    22 Jan: 20th Century and Contemporary Literature Graduate Research Seminar, Faculty of English, Cambridge

    8 Feb: Faber at 90, Readings by Richard Scott and Mary Jean Chan, National Portrait Gallery, London

    22 Feb: 40 Years of Gay's the Word Bookshop, A Celebration at the British Library, London

    8 Mar: Border Crossings, StAnza 2019, Scotland's International Poetry Festival, St Andrews

    20 Mar: The National Poetry Competition 40th Anniversary Readings, Kings Place, London

    25 Mar: The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Poetry, The House of Lords, Westminster, London

    25 Apr: AWPI Keynote Poetry Reading by Mary Jean Chan, Humanities Institute, University College Dublin

    26 Apr: AWPI Plenary Roundtable on the PhD in Creative Writing, Humanities Institute, University College Dublin

    3 May: Keats Bicentenary Readings with Rachael Allen, Mary Jean Chan and Isabel Galleymore, Keats House, London

    23 May: Oxford Review of Books Trinity Term Poetry Evening, Lecture Room 23, Balliol College, University of Oxford

    10 June: Making Debuts with Claire Adam, Mary Jean Chan and Kendall Feaver, Bloomsbury House (Faber), London

    12 June: Mary Jean Chan, Sarah Howe and Jennifer Wong in Conversation with Dorothy Wang, The Poetry Cafe, London

    14 June: Readings with Jay Bernard, Mary Jean Chan and Kayo Chingonyi, Greenwich Book Festival, London

    15 June: Roundtable on Canons and Values in Contemporary Literary Studies, University of Southampton

    26 June: National Poetry Library Lates, June Edition with Mary Jean Chan and Keith Jarrett, Hayward Gallery, London

    27 June: Wasafiri Queer Worlds/Global Queer Issue Launch, Waterstones, Tottenham Court Road, London

    *5 July: Launch of Debut Collection Flèche with Will Harris and Sarah Howe, London Review Bookshop, London

    12 July: Debut Collections with Jay Bernard and Mary Jean Chan, Gay's the Word Bookshop, London

    *17 July: Launch of Debut Collection Flèche in Conversation with Daisy Johnson, Blackwell's (Westgate), Oxford

    24 July: Readings by Fiona Benson and Mary Jean Chan, the John Hewitt International Summer School, NI, Armagh

    4 Sept: Guest Reader at Arvon (Totleigh Barton), Towards a Collection with Tom Chivers and Sarah Hesketh, Devon

    11 Sept: Reading at Behind the Mask with Rishi Dastidar, S J Fowler and Chrissy Williams, The Poetry Cafe, London

    21 Sept: Readings by Mary Jean Chan and Luke Kennard, Milton Keynes Literary Festival, Milton Keynes

    24 Sept: Readings by Mona Arshi, Mary Jean Chan and Jacqueline Saphra, Waterstones Gower Street, London

    11 Oct: Debut Poets Showcase, The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival, Cheltenham

    14 Oct: Readings by Mary Jean Chan and Will Harris, Cafe Writers, The Louis Marchesi, Norwich

    2-3 Nov: Readings and Workshops at the 19th Hong Kong International Literary Festival, Hong Kong




    24 Jan: The Ledbury Emerging Poetry Critics, University of Birmingham

    8 Feb: Poetry London Spring 2018 Readings, Kings Place, London

    15 Feb: Lodestone Poets at Tottenham Court Road | Waterstones, London

    22 Feb: International Mother Languages Day, Anthony Burgess Foundation, Manchester

    27 Feb: Race and Equality (An Evening of Poetry and Film), King's College London

    7 Mar: ignitionpress pamphlet launch, The Poetry Cafe, London

    8 Mar: ignitionpress pamphlet launch, Society Cafe, Oxford

    25 Mar: ignitionpress pamphlet launch, The Oxford Literary Festival, Oxford

    12 Apr: ignitionpress pamphlet launch, Lighthouse Bookshop, Edinburgh

    23 Apr: Celebration of Adrienne Rich with Poet in the City, Wilton's Music Hall, London

    30 Apr: Carcanet New Poetries VII Launch, The London Review Bookshop, London

    2 May: An Evening of Faber Poetry Readings (Spring 2018), Bloomsbury House, London

    4 May: Carcanet New Poetries VII Launch, The Old Library, All Souls College, Oxford

    28 May: Reading with Amy Key, Claudine Toutoungi & Eleni Cay, the Troubadour, London

    30 May: Reading with Will Harris, Theophilus Kwek & Jennifer Tsai, 11 Bedford Square, London

    31 May: Reading at the UN Human Rights Symposium, The American School in London

    5 June: Out-Spoken Live at the 100 Club, 100 Oxford Street, London

    8 June: The Forward Prizes at the Second Home Literary Festival, Holland Park, London

    16 June: "Poets Poets" Day 2018 (Readings & Discussion), UCL English Department, London

    18 June: Poetry Reading Series at Bradfield College, Bradfield, Berkshire

    20 June: Rogers, Coleridge & White Literary Salon, RCW Offices, London

    30 June: Poetry and Psychoanalysis Conference, The Institute of Psychoanalysis, London

    5 July: The National Poetry Competition Winners, Ledbury Poetry Festival, Ledbury

    6 July: Modern Poetry in Translation with Richard Scott & Jennifer Tsai, Ledbury Poetry Festival, Ledbury

    8 July: 20 minutes with Mary Jean Chan, The Ledbury Poetry Festival, Ledbury

    12 July: Launch of The Dictionary of Rare and Precious Words, Oxford Spires Academy, Oxford

    19 July: Reading with Richard Scott and Sophie Robinson, Islington | Waterstones, London

    25 July: The Poetry Book Society Summer Showcase, Southbank Centre, London

    6 Sept: Modern Poetry in Translation London Launch, Gay's the Word, London

    7 Sept: The White Review Poetry Salon with Raymond Antrobus and Rachel Long, Burley Fisher Books, London

    30 Sept: The Echo Chamber with Paul Farley, the BBC Contains Strong Language Festival, Hull

    16 Oct: An Evening of Poetry and Classical Music, Goodenough College, London

    27 Oct: Race and Poetry and Poetics in the UK (RAPAPUK) Conference, Queen's College, Cambridge

    3 Nov: "Queer Studio" with Richard Scott and guest readers, Poetry in Aldeburgh, Suffolk

    10 Nov: Reading with ignitionpress poets, the Woodstock Poetry Festival, Oxford

    29 Nov: Reading and launch of Wretched Strangers, Waterstones, Oxford

    10 Dec: Reading with Eley Williams and Gulsum Altinbas, Sid Motion Gallery, London

  • Poetry Workshops

    Spring-Summer 2019

    16 March 2019, 2-5pm, The Poetry Society

    Join Mary Jean Chan in an interactive creative writing workshop which will hone in on some of the victorious poems from the past 40 years of the National Poetry Competition. Suitable for all writing abilities (aged 18+).

    23 Apr – 2 Jul 2019, 6 weeks, Tues 7-9pm, Royal Festival Hall

    Explore and be inspired by the work of Carolyn Forché, Adrienne Rich, Sharon Olds, Kei Miller, Terrance Hayes, Richard Scott and others as they bear witness to a breathtaking range of human experience. Suitable for all writing abilities (aged 18+).

  • Media


    31 March 2012

    What Makes a Good Society?

    ignitionpress pamphlet launch (8 March 2018)

    Poem: 'Long Distance' (A Hurry of English)