Poetics of Home: Conference on Place and Identity (Hosted by the Institute of English Studies, supported by Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre and RHUL English), London, UK.

  • Mary Jean Chan (Invited speaker)

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference


How do we articulate our changing identities as we leave our places of origin and relocate to a new place? Can one truly leave a home or homeland behind? What is the meaning of home? How do we address the complexities of migration, diaspora and capture multiple cultural identities in poetry? This symposium will feature presentations and dialogues by a diverse range of established and emerging poets and poet-researchers whose work engages with and re-interprets the meanings of homeland and cultural identity. There will be a reading by Booker prizewinning poet George Szirtes (Hungary-born author of many books including Bad Machine published by Bloodaxe), as well as translator of Hungarian) and Hannah Lowe, author of two collections, Chan and Chick (Bloodaxe Books) who has been named by Poetry Book Society as one of the Next Generation Poets in the UK.

I was delighted to be invited to speak on this academic panel at the “Poetics of Home” conference comprising Hannah Lowe, Theophilus Kwek and myself, chaired by Sarah Howe, on the theme of “family, culture and identity”. Since a lot of my poetry concerns the complexities of familial love and relationships in a Chinese and post-colonial context, I delivered a creative-critical paper which aimed to unpack my poem “what my mother (a poet) might say”, which is a creative take on things my mother might or might not have said to me about her past, thus probing the limits (and creative elements) of cultural memory. I also discussed my relationship to Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese, which are my mother tongues. As a Chinese poet who only writes creatively and critically in English, I shared with the audience my journey towards a reconciliation of tongues.
Period18 Mar 2017
Event typeOther