Following their award-winning debut, FlÃ¨che (2019), comes Mary Jean Chan’s gleaming second collection: Bright Fear. Through poems which engage fearlessly with intertwined themes of identity, multilingualism and postcolonial legacy, Chan’s latest work explores a family’s evolving dynamics, as well as microaggressions stemming from queerphobia and anti-Asian racism that accompanied the Covid pandemic.
Yet Bright Fear remains deeply attuned to moments of beauty, tenderness and grace. It asks how we might find a home within our own bodies, in places both distant and near, and in the ‘constructed space’ of the poem. The contemplative central sequence, Ars Poetica, traces the radically healing and transformative role of poetry during the poet’s teenage and adult years, culminating in a polyphonic reconciliation of tongues. Throughout, Chan offers us new and galvanising ways to ‘withstand the quotidian tug- / of-war between terror and love’.
‘[Chan] is one of those rare poets who leave you looking up with a sense that you can engage even the smallest part of the world around you with a much greater intensity.’ PN Review