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Mary Jean Chan: Bright Fear

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In March 2020, when the world was in the early and unknowable days of the pandemic, poet Mary Jean Chan wrote in The Guardian that “something about the specificity of poetry allows it to crystalise experience, as if one were pausing time.” Their latest collection, Bright Fear, hurtles us back to that time and takes us back further— to moments of grief and joy and tenderness. Throughout, Chan offers us new and galvanising ways to ‘withstand the quotidian tug- / of-war between terror and love’. Named a Guardian Best Poetry Book 2023 and recently shortlisted for the 2024 Dylan Thomas Prize, Bright Fear has been described by judge Tice Cin as “written with a quiet intimacy… gentle, inviting and formally inventive”. 

Hong Kong-born and UK-based poet Mary Jean joins New Zealand Poet Laureate Chris Tse on National Poetry Day to discuss the complications of family, form, and the radical power of poetry.

“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

Presented by Verb Wellington, Satellites, and The National Library of New Zealand. 

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