Culture and Arts

Anna Chen’s politically informed poetry, theatre, reviews and fiction

Anna Chen writing with Wilma the cat

Writing by Anna Chen, London-born poet, performer and broadcaster

Anna was an early cultural outrider in the Chinese British diaspora, challenging stereotypes and carving out new ground in her creative work. Finding herself bridging two major cultures, she uncovered a vital means of expression sparked by the books, television, cinema and music of her childhood. Her embrace of the arts, linking theatre and poetry with the political conditions from which they arise, provides a sui generis perspective in remarkable circumstances.

The originality of her world-view writing can be read through the lens of groundbreaking events in her life. These include being the first homegrown Chinese Brit punk before the movement was popularised in the media; the first to take a show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with her stereotype-busting play Suzy Wrong – Human Cannon; presenting the trailblazing BBC series The Chinese in Britain for Radio 4; introducing a new generation to Anna May Wong, Hollywood’s first Chinese screen legend in her BBC programme, A Celestial Star in Piccadilly, and being one of the first British commentators to break rank and defend China when the West turned on it during Trump’s trade war.

POETRY: Aaaargh Press has published two collections of Anna’s poetry, Reaching for my Gnu and Chi Chi’s Glorious Swansong

Anna Chen reviews the arts: film, theatre, books and TV

ARTS REVIEWS PAGE: Anna Chen dives under the hood to check that the engine’s working. Before the cultural superstructure completely collapses back into the economic base, she explores how its artefacts tie in to power and politics. Are we gripped by revolutionary invention? Or stodged-out on mediocre blah? Robust assessments in this selection of arts reviews deliver surprising perspectives and insights. List of contents for film, theatre, TV, books and exhibitions – essays and reviews.

ARTS REVIEWS ARCHIVE: Film, theatre, book and general arts reviews over the years plus cultural commentary. How the arts and the political conditions that produce them are connected – from Anna’s arts reviews archive

THEATRE: The writer-performer’s stage work includes: Suzy Wrong, Human Cannon; I, Imelda; Taikonaut; Party Games; The Steampunk Opium Wars; Anna May Wong Must Die!

ASIA TIMES – Anna Chen writes about world affairs and culture: The satirical articles originally published by Asia Times are republished at the blog.

Suzy Wrong – Human Cannon: How to transform your body from a soft target into a lethal weapon.

The Steampunk Opium Wars on stage at the Royal National Maritime Museum in Greenwich: in the belly of the beast

Shakedown: an epic timeline of America’s 21st war on China. Opium wars on steroids.

Anna Chen writer View from the Edge
Anna Chen: View from the Edge

The View From the Edge – Bulletin 1:
Trapped in a science fiction writer’s coma dream
News meets nightmare in the first of a series of short stories chronicling the end of the post-war liberal order. Reading the signs as the cultural and social superstructure collapses into the economic base like tiers in rain. Battle on the psychic plane as humanity is herded into cattle pens at the genesis of the new Morlocks.

To come …

Coolie: a novel about the Chinese workers who built America’s first transcontinental railroad. To be serialised online for subscribers

The Covfefe Papers: 500 pages of Covid timeline to be published online for subscribers

Red Guard, Yellow Submarine: a memoir by the London-born writer, poet, broadcaster and first Chinese punk. “Growing up in the swinging sixties and seventies was great as long as it wasn’t in China, South Africa, Vietnam or the US deep south and a dozen other hotspots around the world.” Play extract performed on BBC Radio 4.

Anna Chen album cover Vicious But Fair

Anna Chen was an early British punk before the movement was popularised in the media. Her presence at the transition between rock and punk is captured in this iconic image on the cover of the album, Vicious But Fair

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