Ms Anna Chen 陳雲西女士

Information

Date 20 June 2014 Interviewed by Ben Fielden 
Language English Audio Edited by Ben Fielden 
Venue West Hampstead Library, London    

Anna Chen was born in London. Her father came to the UK as a seaman in 1927 and went onto establish the first branch of Xinhua news agency in London. He married a British woman and settled in Hackney.

Anna began writing at an early age and at the age of 14 her poetry was first published in the Jonathan Cape anthology Fire Words. She is also a performer and with her one woman play 'Suzy Wrong — Human Cannon' was the first homegrown British Chinese comic actor to write and perform a solo show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1994. She has gone on to win several awards for her writing, including poetry, blogging online as well as newspaper articles.

Her first collection of poetry, Reaching for my Gnu, was published in paperback in February 2013 by Aaaargh! Press. She has read and performed at the Oxford University Poetry Society and Oxford Radical Forum, Farrago Poetry, Apples and Snakes, the St Ives Arts Festival, the Stoke Newington Literary Festival, the National Maritime Museum. She hosted the British Museum Late event during the Terracotta Warriors exhibition, and curated various events as well as writing and presenting The Steampunk Opium Wars for performance at the National Maritime Museum to mark the opening of their new Traders Gallery in 2012.

She runs The Hothouse Project, an alternative education series of classes and presents her arts series, Madam Miaow's Culture Lounge, for Resonance 104.4FM.

Anna Chen is also active politically, she has organised the press for several campaigns to hit national and international media including: the Chinese Foot and Mouth Disease smear campaign in 2001; the Socialist Alliance in the London (2000) and general elections (2001); the Stop the War Coalition anti-war protests (2001-3) culminating in the million-strong London demonstration February 2003; and helped kick off the RSC Orphan of Zhao protest by the British East Asian Actors group (of which she is a founder member) in 2012. She is a founder member of the Chinese Civil Rights Action Group UK (CCRAG) which later became Min Quan when it affiliated to The Monitoring Group.

She has also been active in exploring the history of the Chinese in Britain through her radio series 'Chinese in Britain' which was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2014. Most recently she presented at the TedxEastEnd 'Society Beyond Borders' conference 2015.