Flèche by Mary Jean Chan - signed paperback


This paperback copy of Flèche has been signed by the author, Mary Jean Chan - one of the most exciting new voices in poetry.

Flèche won the the Costa Poetry Award in January 2020 and was also a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.

This is a series of poems that feel urgent and true, dazzling and devastating by turns .Central to the collection is the figure of the poet's mother, whose fragmented memories of political turmoil in twentieth-century China are sensitively threaded through the book in an eight-part poetic sequence, combined with recollections from Chan's childhood. As complex themes of multilingualism, queerness, psychoanalysis and cultural history emerge, so too does a richly imagined personal, maternal and national biography. 

Flèche (the French word for 'arrow') is an offensive technique commonly used in fencing, a sport of Mary Jean Chan's young adult years, when she competed locally and internationally for her home city, Hong Kong. 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.

Mary Jean Chan grew up in Hong Kong and studied at Swarthmore College, the University of Oxford and Royal Holloway, University of London. She is a Ledbury Poetry Critic, editor of Oxford Poetry, and a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Oxford Brookes University. Her debut pamphlet A Hurry of English was published in 2018. Her debut full length collection, Flèche, was published by Faber in July 2019.