Mary Jean Chan Virtual Talk

20 November 2023

Written by Esther K, Year 13

On Friday 17th of November we were visited (virtually) by Mary Jean Chan, a poet whose collection, Flèche, we study at A Level. So often in English we’re reading writers who are long dead – I’m sure we all have many questions for Chaucer, Shakespeare, or Woolf, for example, but sadly these will forever go unanswered! – so it was such a privilege to be able to talk to Chan about their work, giving us invaluable insights into their process and ideas.

It was a really exciting opportunity to engage with a poet, and we were full of questions from studying Flèche for coursework. Our topics ranged from the relationship between artificial intelligence (AI) and poetry, the importance of food in their collection (possibly our enquiries were slightly clouded by the fact that we had just had lunch), their influences (especially Adrienne Rich and Seamus Heaney) and other specific elements of their work.

Chan also read two of their poems for us, one which we study and another from their recent collection, Bright Fear, and it was fascinating to hear them read their poems as intended to be read, especially when, in lessons, we had explored reading the poems out loud ourselves.

Overall, it was a great way to spend an afternoon and we are all heading into our coursework more confidently for it!

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