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June 14

Poetry: Jay Bernard and Mary Jean Chan

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About The Event

Lecture Theatre 11_0003, 10 Stockwell Street
Greenwich, London, SE10 9BD United Kingdom
June 14, 2019
8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
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Poetry: Introducing Jay Bernard’s Surge and Mary Jean Chan’s Flèche


Jay Bernard is the winner of the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry 2018. Their powerful debut Surge is one of 2019’s most anticipated releases and a fearlessly original, queer exploration of the Black British archive. It traces a line between two significant events in recent British history: the New Cross Massacre in 1981, in which 13 young Black people were killed in a house fire, and the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire. A ground-breaking work of excavation, memory and activism, this urgent collection speaks with, in and of the voices of the past, brought back by the incantation of dancehall rhythms and the music of Jamaican patois. Surge has been shortlisted for a Forward Prize for first collection.


Mary Jean Chan is a poet, editor and academic from Hong Kong who now lives in London. Her anticipated debut collection, Flèche, will be published by Faber in early July. Its title comes from fencing, a sport she competed in internationally as a young adult. Dazzling and devastating by turn, Chan explores her own past and heritage, multilingualism, queerness, post-colonialism and cultural history. Central to the collection is the poet’s mother and her fragmented memories of political turmoil in 20th century China. Chan was shortlisted for the 2017 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem and came second in the 2017 National Poetry Competition.


“If there were ever to be a twenty-first century Auden, with all the invention and cultural understanding, understanding of tradition and sense of the speed and the human outcome of foul politics, Jay Bernard is it” (Ali Smith)

“Jay Bernard’s poems sing with outrage and indignation, with fury and passion. They tell the story of two terrible fires of our times, and shockingly show how the past holds up an uncomfortable mirror to the present. They have brio, they have brilliance, they are breathtakingly brave. An astonishingly accomplished debut” (Jackie Kay)


‘Sparkling and vulnerable… marks the arrival of an essential new voice . . . These poems bring to life a story of queer awakening, transit between cultures, and a mother’s terrifying love shaped by the legacy of political turmoil in 20th-century China.’ Sarah Howe on Mary Jean Chan


This session will be held in Lecture Theatre 11-0003 of the University of Greenwich Stockwell Street building. All attendees should have a valid ticket.


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