Mary Jean Chan

Mary Jean Chan is a poet and editor from Hong Kong who currently lives in London. She was shortlisted for the 2017 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem (UK), and came Second in the 2017 National Poetry Competition. Her debut pamphlet, A Hurry of English, was published in 2018 by ignitionpress (Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre), and was recently selected as the 2018 Poetry Book Society Summer Pamphlet Choice. Mary Jean is a Ledbury Emerging Poetry Critic and an editor of Oxford Poetry. Her debut collection will be published by Faber & Faber in 2019.

Spark of wind, gust of neon. The evening swells with the clamour
of voices. A dialect does not recognize the written word, exists if
uttered aloud, sleeps like an emaciated dog when abandoned, tail
wrapped around itself for comfort. That is what my Cantonese is,
a stray canine: I’ll admit – one I care for sporadically. Whenever
mother calls me on the phone and we speak, the dog is brought in.
come home to this body, this unhomeliness

as                             portrait / sourdough / bitter gourd

like                          a uniform / a chest-guard / a mask

called                       girl / boy / anything your mother wants

under                         a pile of laundry / your own shadow / a sudden mourning

having failed            your mother / your lover / to be its true self

where                        we are meant to survive / my birthmark lingers / joy is more than a crumb