Mary Jean Chan wins £5,000 Costa poetry award

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The poet and lecturer Mary Jean Chan has won the £5,000 poetry category of the Costa book awards for her first collection, Flèche, which explores themes of multilingualism, queerness, psychoanalysis and cultural history.

Mary Jean Chan, who was born and grew up in Hong Kong,  came second in the 2017 National Poetry Competition, and the title poem from her debut collection won the 2018 Poetry Society Geoffrey Dearmer prize. She has been shortlisted for the Forward prize for best single poem twice. She is a lecturer in creative writing (poetry) at Oxford Brookes University and lives in London.

In a 2018 Write Out Loud interview with Jade Cuttle – who is herself one of the judges for the final Costa book award this year - Chan said: “I often start my poems as fragments, which I save onto my smartphone when I'm riding the London tube (since there's no Wi-Fi signal down there, unlike in Hong Kong)!”

The other Costa shortlisted poets were Jay Bernard (Surge), Paul Farley (The Mizzy), and John McCullough (Reckless Paper Birds).


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