Oxford Brookes lecturer Dr Mary Jean Chan wins the Costa Book Awards poetry Prize

Tuesday, 07 January 2020

Mary Jean Chan news

Dr Mary Jean Chan Oxford Brookes University Lecturer in Creative Writing, has been announced as the winner of the poetry category in the 2019 Costa Book Awards. She is one of 5 writers now shortlisted for the Costa Book of the Year, to be announced at an awards ceremony on Tuesday 28th January 2020.

Mary Jean was recognised for her debut collection Flèche published by Faber & Faber in July 2019. The title Flèche, is the French word for ‘arrow’ and also refers to an offensive technique in fencing. Mary Jean took part in the competitive sport as a young adult in Hong Kong. Mary Jean explores complex themes of multilingualism, queerness, cultural history and interactions with her mother.

Dr Chan commented: "I am absolutely thrilled to win the 2019 Costa Book Award for Poetry for my debut collection Flèche. It's a tremendous gift for a young writer; I never imagined that my book would be received so positively when I first started writing it in 2016. I am so grateful to all my poetry mentors and peers for their continual inspiration and support." 

Professor Rachel Langford Pro Vice-Chancellor, Dean, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences added:

“I am delighted that Dr Mary Jean Chan's exceptional talent has been recognised through her winning the prestigious Costa Book Award for Poetry 2019.

“Creative writing theory and practice are key areas of research and teaching strength in the School of English and Modern Languages at Oxford Brookes University, with our renowned Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre supporting both established and upcoming poets.

“As a Faculty we are very lucky that School of English and Modern Languages students can learn in partnership with active contemporary poets such as Mary Jean, whose hard work and talent is amply testified to, by her success in the Costa Book Award for Poetry 2019.”

The Costa award follows Mary Jean’s recent Eric Gregory prize for her debut pamphlet A Hurry of English (published by ignitionpress based at Oxford Brookes). She received the honour at the 2019 Society of Authors’ Awards ceremony at Southwark Cathedral. The prize is awarded for a collection of poems by a poet under 30.

In 2016, Mary Jean won the Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition in the English as an Additional Language category. 

As a distinguished voice in UK poetry, Mary Jean is also a Ledbury Poetry Critic, editor of Oxford Poetry, advisory board member at the Poetry Translation Centre and member of the Folio Prize Academy. 

Picture credit: credit Adrian Pope