Poet Mary Jean Chan’s keenly anticipated second collection Bright Fear looks at themes including sexuality, family dynamics, translation and language, following their Costa Award winning debut Flèche. Tickets are £5 including a glass of wine or soft drink.
Through poems which engage fearlessly with intertwined themes of identity, multilingualism and postcolonial legacy, Chan’s latest work explores a family’s evolving dynamics, as well as microaggressions stemming from queerphobia and anti-Asian racism that accompanied the Covid pandemic. Yet Bright Fear remains deeply attuned to moments of beauty, tenderness and grace. It asks how we might find a home within our own bodies, in places both distant and near, and in the ‘constructed space’ of the poem. The contemplative central sequence, Ars Poetica, traces the radically healing and transformative role of poetry during the poet’s teenage and adult years, culminating in a polyphonic reconciliation of tongues. Throughout, Chan offers us new and galvanising ways to ‘withstand the quotidian tug- / of-war between terror and love’.
Reading Bright Fear is like testing the blade of a knife and finding it exquisitely sharp. There is a shining…quality to Chan’s writing. -Kate Kellaway
Currently a Senior Lecturer in Modern Languages and Translation at Oxford Brookes University, Enora Lessinger is an Ecole Normale Supérieure alumna. She holds a Ph.D. in literary translation from the Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris, on the translation of narrative silence in Kazuo Ishiguro’s fiction. Her research focuses on literary and audiovisual translation, and involves seven different languages. Additional research interests include gender in translation, the translation of humour, and the genetics translation studies.
Mary Jean Chan is the author of Flèche (Faber, 2019), which won the Costa Book Award for Poetry and was shortlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize, the John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Prize, the Jhalak Prize, the Seamus Heaney Centre First Collection Poetry Prize and a Lambda Literary Award. Bright Fear, Chan’s second book, was shortlisted for the 2023 Forward Prize for Best Collection and is currently shortlisted for the Writers Prize. In 2022, Chan co-edited the acclaimed anthology 100 Queer Poems with Andrew McMillan. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Chan is the 2023-24 Judith E. Wilson Poetry Fellow at the University of Cambridge.