As a teenager, fencing was the closest thing
I knew to desire, all the girls swapping one
uniform for another before practice, their white
dresses replaced by breeches. I thought we were
princes in a fairy tale with a twist, since
there were no princesses to be taken, wed.
As knights, we were told to aim for an imaginary
spot just above our opponent’s left breast. Often,
I left a bruise: the blade’s tip ricocheting off chest-
guards onto flesh. Just as often, I would feel yellow
blooms of ache where the girl I thought was beautiful
had pierced my heart. Hours later, I would transform.
I would head back home with a deepening
sense of dread, my bruises fading to quiet.
by Mary Jean Chan
Hear Mary Jean read the poem by clicking here
The Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre is proud and delighted to introduce you to the final poet whose work our ignitionpress is publishing in our first poetry pamphlets! A Hurry of English by Mary Jean Chan, Glean by Patrick James Errington, and Lily Blacksell’s There’s No Such Thing, are on sale TODAY from the Brookes online Shop.
We will be holding launch events on 7 March (at the Poetry Café in London), 8 March (at the Society Café in Oxford), and on 25 March (at the Oxford Literary Festival). You can find out more about these events on our website. Visit our website to also read and hear Lily’s poem ‘Brook’ and Patrick’s ‘Still Life with Approaching Crow’, and to find out about all three poets here.
Mary Jean Chan is a poet from Hong Kong. Her work has appeared in numerous magazines and journals, such as The Poetry Review, PN Review, Ambit Magazine, The Rialto, Callaloo Journal, and Wasafiri Magazine. In 2017, Mary Jean was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem, and won the Poetry Society Members’ Competition and the Poetry and Psychoanalysis Competition. In 2016, she won the Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition (ESL), and was shortlisted for the 2016 London Magazine Poetry Prize, the 2016 Rialto Open Pamphlet Competition and the 2016 Resurgence Poetry Prize. Mary Jean received the 2015 University of London MA Creative Writing Prize, and is currently a PhD candidate and Research Associate in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London and Co-Editor at Oxford Poetry. In 2019, her first full collection of poetry will be published by Faber & Faber.
ignitionpress is a new poetry pamphlet press with an international outlook which publishes original, arresting poetry from emerging poets, and established poets working on interim or special projects. The Managing Editor of the press is Les Robinson, who was the founder and director of the renowned poetry publisher tall-lighthouse until 2011. You can learn more about the press on the Poetry Centre website.
Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.