Mary Jean Chan: Meet the new generation of female poets breaking boundaries in 2019

As sales of poetry books continue to rise, author and poet Rosalind Jana shines a light on some of the most exciting voices to add to your reading list.

 

Poetry is thriving.

Glance at your phone and it’s easier than ever to find scribblings, videos, screenshots and links that send you off in all sorts of poetic directions. Spend any amount of time browsing on the Poetry Foundation’s website and you’ll be immersed in a whole galaxy of thrilling contemporary work. Head to any bookshop and you’ll find that the poetry section is bustling with treasures.

It’s no surprise, then, that we’re buying more poetry than ever before. In fact, recently released figures from the Nielsen BookScan showed that sales of poetry in the UK increased by 12% last year – with teenage girls and young women making up the majority of consumers.

It’s particularly interesting – and heartening – to see this trend being fueled by women, especially younger ones. There are all sorts of reasons for this sudden surge of success, from living in an age of acute political uncertainty, to increasing access to a range of diverse voices, to a general hunger for work that effectively distills modern life and opens up new worlds.

Mary Jean Chan

With her debut Flèche coming from Faber & Faber later this year, poet, academic and editor Mary Jean Chan’s poems beautifully tackle language, belonging, queerness, the intricacies of relationships both familial and romantic, and more.

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