Born in Hong Kong and now living in the UK, Jennifer Wong is a poet and translator. Her collection, 回家 Letters Home, published by Nine Arches Press in 2020, has been named a Wild Card choice by Poetry Book Society. She is also the author of Goldfish (Chameleon Press 2013) – which won the Hong Kong Arts Development Council Young Artist Award (Literary Arts) and a pamphlet, Diary of a Miu Miu Salesgirl (Bitter Melon Poetry 2019). In 2021, Jennifer was a writer-in-residence with Wasafiri. She is currently a visiting fellow with Oxford TORCH.
As part this year’s focus on writing from the Chinese diaspora, we’re delighted to feature Jennifer Wong on our book club this month, with three poems from her 2020 collection 回家 Letters Home. Thank you to Jennifer and to Nine Arches Press for allowing us to reprint them here!
In 回家 Letters Home, one returns to the complexities of being between nations, languages and cultures. Intersecting multiple borders of history and place, these poems examine what it means to return home, and whether it is a return to a location, a country or to a shared dream or language.
From the story of an ice-lantern, a derelict village school in Guizhou to the graffiti and tear gas in Hong Kong’s streets, these poems reveal postcards of memories etched into skin, the fragments of different cultural, historical and linguistic worlds. In writing their way home, these poems navigate the expectations and beliefs which continue to shape, confine, trouble, and liberate us.
Jennifer is also one of the founders and organisers of the Poetics of Home Festival, which aims to connect and showcase diverse works by established and emerging Anglophone poets writing across the Chinese diaspora. The first festival took place last year, and featured poetry readings and discussions from diverse voices on themes from migration to language and the expression of desire.
And we were lucky enough to feature two of her poems in our special issue of Stand magazine on ‘Chinese Journeys’, in 2017.