Nina Mingya Powles by Sophie Davidson

Nina Mingya Powles

Nina Mingya Powles (b. 1993, Wellington NZ) sees Magnolia, 木蘭 as ‘partly a collection of love letters to Shanghai, but it’s also about loneliness, and about trying to retrace your steps back towards a language you’ve lost’. (木蘭, ‘Mùlán’, is the Chinese word for magnolia, the official flower of Shanghai.)

Powles is drawn to writers who treat the boundaries of genre as fluid and permeable; she has described how she prizes the moment when ‘something within the line of the poem slips, gives way, and we are pulled suddenly into a different field of language’: an excellent description of the experience of reading Magnolia, 木蘭 . She is currently working on a book of essays about bodies of water, food, migration and being mixed-race, to be published by Canongate in 2021.

Read a review of Magnolia, 木蘭 in The Guardian.

Forward Prize History:

  • 2020 Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection, shortlisted for Magnolia 木蘭 (Nine Arches Press)
Photo credit: Sophie Davidson