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Summary

Winner of the Costa Poetry Prize, 2019.

Poetry Book Society Recommendation.

Flèche (the French word for 'arrow') is an offensive technique commonly used in fencing, a sport of Mary Jean Chan's young adult years, when she competed locally and internationally for her home city, Hong Kong. 

This cross-linguistic pun presents the queer, non-white body as both vulnerable ('flesh') and weaponised ('flèche'), and evokes the difficulties of reconciling one's need for safety alongside the desire to shed one's protective armour in order to fully embrace the world.

Central to the collection is the figure of the poet's mother, whose fragmented memories of political turmoil in 20th century China are sensitively threaded through the book in an eight-part poetic sequence, combined with recollections from Chan's childhood. 

As complex themes of multilingualism, queerness, psychoanalysis and cultural history emerge, so too does a richly imagined personal, maternal and national biography. The result is a series of poems that feel urgent and true, dazzling and devastating by turns. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2019 Mary Jean Chan (P)2019 Faber Audio

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  • slykindle
  • 21-01-20

Interesting passages

Mary Jean has a beautiful voice, if she could relax and not annunciate every syllable would make the whole experience more natural. Her passages and words are beautiful and emotionally charged. A good additional to women on women poetry, we all know how rare they are. Thank you.