Poet and Fiction Writer

  • About

    Kit Fan - poet and fiction writer

    Kit Fan was born and educated in Hong Kong when the city was the last British colony, before moving to the UK at 21. He moves between poetry and narrative fiction. He lives in York.


    He was shortlisted for The Guardian 4th Estate BAME Short Story Prize for 'Duty Free' in 2017 and for 'City of Culture' in 2018. He was also shortlisted for the 2017 TLS Mick Imlah Poetry Prize.


    In 2018, he won a Northern Writers' Award for Diamond Hill, a novel-in-progress.


    His first book of poems Paper Scissors Stone (Hong Kong University Press, 2011) won the inaugural International HKU Poetry Prize.


    His second book of poems As Slow As Possible (Arc) was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, one of The Guardian's 50 biggest books in Autumn 2018, and The Irish Times Best Poetry Book of the Year.


    He was awarded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon to be a Visiting Scholar in 2020.


    He is represented by the literary agent Matt Turner at Rogers, Coleridge & White.

  • Books

    Kit Fan second book As Slow As Possible

    ‘Utterly straightforward and lucid, with an oblique dream-like undertow, Fan’s remarkable poems – that seem wholly original, even in their echoes of the various traditions that inform them – intrigue us with their haunting and haunted observations and atmospheres. The assurance of the voice in As Slow As Possible is often startling, partly because of the precision of its vulnerability, and partly because Fan seems to sense something in the language that gives his poems an uncanny momentum and coherence. There is wisdom encoded in these poems that is at once fleeting and revelatory. It is an extraordinary book.’

    Adam Phillips


    ‘If there is something of Marianne Moore’s eccentric edginess in the formal accomplishment of these poems, there is also an elegant surrealism wholly Kit Fan’s own. His is an intensely visual imagination, generous and capacious of eye, but joining its manifold optical stimuli to a corresponding tenderness and complexity of emotional response. ‘How should we unimagine a thing once it’s been imagined?’ asks one poem, and the collection as a whole concerns itself with reversals, metaphysical shifts in gear permitting us a glimpse of origins, of possibilities as yet untouched by the immutable laws of cause and effect. Fan’s is in this sense a recuperative vision, at the same time too fiercely intelligent to be anything other than disabused. The resulting poems hum with intellectual tension like high-voltage wires. As Slow as Possible deserves to be read in the way its title suggests: this is a collection that will lavishly reward careful and attentive reading.’

    Caitríona O’Reilly


    Reviews of As Slow As Possible:

    Kit Fan first book Paper Scissors Stone

    ​Winner of the inaugural Hong Kong University International Poetry Prize

    “‘Then all things began twice.’ The poems in Paper Scissors Stone are moved by the forces of repetition and release, and are haunted by crossings (of borders, of people, of languages and their written characters). With wit and sorrow, precision and tact, the poems study the essential qualities of places, persons, and their arrangements, asking us what it is to begin twice. The book is a formally beautiful and complete meditation on transformation.”

    Saskia Hamilton


    “These extraordinary poems, so assured in their directions, so startling in their clarities, have an eerily dream-like wakefulness. Fan’s enigmatic lucidity is born of a confluence of traditions, both real and imagined. This is not simply a remarkable debut, but a brilliantly accomplished book.”

    Adam Phillips


    “Here is a collection of complex work, skillfully executed. The poems, each carefully measured and crafted, when taken together add up to a beautifully articulated body of work. This is the performance of a fully fledged poet.”

    Louise Ho

  • Current Projects

    Kit Fan novel Diamond Hill

    Diamond Hill (novel-in-progress)

    Winner of a Northern Writers' Award 2018

    Kit is working on his debut novel Diamond Hill which portrays the last shanty town in Hong Kong torn apart by property developers, Buddhist nuns, and the Triad during the dramatic period of accelerated development of the 1980s before the handover of the city from Britain to China in 1997. He won a Northern Writers' Award 2018 for fiction from New Writing North to support the project.

  • Short Stories

    Picture of an air ticket and link to the short story

    Shortlisted for the Guardian 4th Estate BAME Short Story Prize 2017

    Sheila, an immigrant divorcee and mother, works as a cleaner while her son Sunny receives private tutoring in the Hong Kong International Airport where a strange incident has taken place and thrown the mother and son into actions that they have never dreamed before.

    Picture of a library and link to the short story

    Shortlisted for the Guardian 4th Estate BAME Short Story Prize 2018

    Mai, a teenage girl from a seaside northern city, lives with her absent mother and works in her grandmother's Chinese takeaway after school. In a wake of a family crisis, she struggles to find her voice while participating in her school debate on the EU Referendum.

  • Poems

    Hong Kong and the Echo


    What do we know but that we face
    One another in this place?

    – W. B. Yeats, 'Man and the Echo'


    HK. I loved my mountains, rivers, and trees
    long before towers and families, but if the only way
    the sea can speak to the hills is through the moon
    I will speak to you from the ink-dark
    about the changing tides, the slow equivocal pain
    of transition, how things are moving away
    from the norm, the deceptive comfort
    of a norm, the fading neon noises
    on Mong Kok streets, the kind of yellow
    you’ll only find in my heart, the Lion Rock spirit
    and the endangered species named after me:
    the grouper, cascade frog, incense tree.


    Echo. What do we know but that?


    HK. What’s the meaning of life in numbers?
    Although I count every second of mine
    I remember nothing of those Crown-
    appointed governors come and gone who said
    nothing, did nothing, changed nothing.
    What are the promises in a red flag with five stars
    shooting out from one bauhinia?
    Twenty-two moon-calendars since I was re-unorphaned
    I stray and obey like a tree, half-crown, half-root,
    branching out and bedding in, each growth year
    a scar tissue erased by the smudges
    of shared stocks, fireworks, new railways and bridges.


    Echo. We face one another? We face one another?


    HK. What am I but the high-rise windows
    reflecting the sun and the lives below?
    Come, look into every single one
    and find millions of homemade voices in an impasse,
    in fissures, in boxlike existences
    where one language is never enough.
    High above I see black kites, sometimes white-bell
    sea eagles gliding between glass and cliff,
    drones and signals, eyeing the quick chance
    while larks, thrushes, and titmice are twittering
    in bamboo cages, bird to bird, sharing
    the captive sky with their distant counterparts
    as one sun drops under the horizon
    and a different one rises.


    Echo. In this place? In this place? In this place?


    (Published in World Literature Today, April 2019 issue)


    for Ziad Elmarsafy


    Months have passed and we have seen enough of death

    this winter that even though seeing these chlorophyll


    green leaves suckle on the sun again and tower over Russell Square

    broadcasting C’est la vie on this one June day aren’t enough


    for the sea-deaths, land-deaths and air-deaths un-extinguishing

    somewhere else, not yet out-of-sight, out-of-mind. Not yet here too,


    this corner kingdom we’ve elected to live within still seemingly

    prospers like the summer holm-oak by the Hotel Russell


    you’ll come to frequent in your new life in the capital.

    People lazing about in the sun as in La Grande Jatte, children shrieking


    in the fountain, a father carrying his bum-bare boy on his shoulders,

    an old couple walking past, catching our eye, still walking


    past. So many of us, I want to know every single life, what

    brought them here today, who they are, and how long they will live.


    We all have it, living it, re-living it, shaping this one-off malleable

    thing over and over that even though all winter we’ve seen


    what could happen to it, we still sit on the bench among the perishable

    green, chattering about it as if it won’t leave us just like that.



    (Published in the anthology Wretched Stranger (Boiler House Press, 2018) which commemorates the anniversary of the June 2016 EU Referendum and in solidarity through struggles ongoing and to come. Proceeds of the book will be donated to charities fighting for the rights of refugees.)


    Links to poems published online:

  • Media

    Image of a window showing beautiful interior

    Kit was interviewed by Tammy Lai-Ming Ho and Jason Eng Hun Lee back in 2018 as part of a project 'Anglophone City Poetics and the Asian Experience'. Kit 'talks about his first poetic influences, his migration to the UK as a young writer, his musings on Hong Kong and afar, and his perspectives on the evolving Asian cityscape.'

    Image of a wild country field

    Kit discussed the idea of poetry in the north with Andrew McMillan, Rachael Allen, and Zaffar Kunial.

    Kit Fan British Library Between two worlds: poetry and translation

    British Library Sounds

    A recording of Kit's poems from his first book of poems Paper Scissors Stone including some Classical Chinese poems in English translations.

    Kit Fan Chinese University of Hong Kong A Grain of Sand: Poems from Hong Kong

    Chinese University of Hong Kong Digital Archive

    Kit Fan "grew up in the shadows of the Sino-British negotiations distills the angst of his age. Upheavals, reaching back to the Japanese occupation, and forward to the handover in 1997 and beyond, imprint on his poetry. And yet a greater strength inheres, for the continuity of tradition, the persistence of the Chinese poetic thought in a poetry rendered in English, makes his writing rich with resonances that cross language borders." - Mimi Ching, Curator of 'A Grain of Sand'

    Image of a window showing beautiful interior

    Poets & Players Reading

    The Whitworth Gallery, Manchester

    Kit Fan read with Colette Bryce and Martin Kratz on 19th February 2019. He read a selection of poems from As Slow As Possible including 'Janus', 'Chapter 2' of GENESIS, 'As Slow As Possible', and 'My Mother in a Velázquez'.

    Image of a beautiful mountain

    Cork, Ireland

    Kit Fan read with Colette Bryce and Lucy English on 24th November 2018. He read a selection of poems, including 'A Chair from Buddha Mountain' from As Slow As Possible.

  • Literary Criticism


    • Review of Nguyễn Du's The Song of Kiều (Penguin), translated by Timothy Allen. The Poetry Review (Autumn 2019).
    • Review of Rachael Allen's Kingdomland (Faber) and Emily Hasler's The Built Environment (Pavilion). The Poetry Review (Spring 2019).
    • Review of Robin Robertson's The Long Take (Picador) and David Harsent's Salt (Faber). The Poetry Review (Summer 2018).
    • Review of Thom Gunn's Selected Poems (Faber), edited by Clive Wilmer. The Poetry Review (Winter 2017).
    • Review of Jorie Graham's Fast (Carcanet) and Pauline Stainer's Sleeping Under the Juniper Tree (Bloodaxe). The Poetry Review (Autumn 2017).
    • Review of Patrick McGuinness's Jilted City (Carcanet), John Ash's In the Wake of the Day (Carcanet), Kwame Dawes's Back of Mount Peace (Peepal Tree), and Richard Gwyn's Sad Giraffe Café (Arc). Poetry Review (Autumn 2010).
    • Review of Clive James's Angels Over Elsinore: Collected Verse 2003-2008 (Picador) and John Kinsella's Comus: A Dialogic Mask (Arc). Poetry Review (Spring 2009).
    • Review of Simon Armitage's Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Faber), Sean O’Brien's Inferno: A Verse Translation (Picador), and Louise Glück's Averno (Carcanet). Poetry Review (Summer 2007).
    • Review of Chase Twichell's Dog Language (Bloodaxe), Elizabeth Alexander's American Blue: Selected Poems (Bloodaxe), and Tomaž Šalamun's Row (Arc). Poetry Review (Autumn 2006).

    Book Chapters:

    • Kit Fan (2015). Sinead Morrissey. In Jay Parini (ed.), British Writers. Retrospective Supplement III. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Charles Scribner's Sons.
    • Kit Fan (2000). Thom Gunn. In Jay Parini (ed.), British Writers. Supplement XXI. Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons.


    • Kit Fan, "'Between the blank page and the poem': Reading Simone Weil in Contemporary American Poets, The Cambridge Quarterly 36:2 (2007), pp. 129-154.
    • Kit Fan, "Imagined Places: Robinson Crusoe and Elizabeth Bishop", Biography 28:1 (Winter 2005) pp. 43-53.
  • News and Events

  • Contact

    Agent: Matt Turner at Rogers, Coleridge & White


    You can also write to me directly: