This event has now finished.
  • Date and time: Sunday 7 June 2020, 7pm to 8pm
  • Location: Online event
  • Audience: Open to alumni, staff, students, the public
  • Admission: Free admission, booking required

Event details

Missed this event? Watch the readings and discussion here. 

Acclaimed poet Mary Jean Chan is the guest star in a reading and performance exploring desire, duelling, and more, via both words and swords.

The University of York’s Department of English and Related Literature’s Writer-in-residence Vahni Capildeo and a number of current students will also read and perform both their own work and poems from earlier periods to explore the unexpected connections between wordplay and swordplay.

How did writers in earlier periods live by the sword and by the pen simultaneously? How have poets fenced and feinted with language? How is desire expressed and embodied in the techniques of writing and of fencing? And how does Mary Jean Chan’s poetry bring together her experience in swordplay and her ability as a poet?

This event features live and pre-recorded segments, including fencing demonstrations.

Missed this event? Watch the readings and discussion here. 


About the speakers

Mary Jean Chan is a London-based poet, lecturer and editor from Hong Kong. Their debut poetry collection, Flèche (Faber & Faber, 2019), is the winner of the 2019 Costa Book Award for Poetry and is currently shortlisted for the 2020 Dylan Thomas Prize and the 2020 Jhalak Prize. Mary Jean has twice been shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem, and is the recipient of an Eric Gregory Award. Mary Jean was recently guest co-editor at The Poetry Review, and lectures in Creative Writing at Oxford Brookes University.  

Vahni Capildeo is Writer in Residence at the University of York and an outgoing Seamus Heaney Centre Poetry Fellow at Queen’s University, Belfast. Capildeo’s experience of medieval studies, translation theory, and lexicography opened up the freedom to find individual, collaborative and multimedia forms of expression for today’s plural senses of memory, place, and displacement. Their work includes Measures of Expatriation (Carcanet, 2016), the winner of the 2016 Forward Poetry Prize for Best Collection, and Odyssey Calling (Sad Press, 2020), which ranges from immersive theatre of ‘azure noise’ to the Windrush scandal, praise and prayer.

Book sales

You can buy copies of many of our speakers’ books from Fox Lane Books, a local independent bookseller and Festival partner.  In some cases, author signed bookplates are available too.