Four Points Fourteen Lines
Co-Winner of the 2015 Melita Hume Prize.
In January of 2015, English school teacher Tony Chan gave up his job and embarked on a 78-day, 1,400-mile solo-trek across the four extreme points of mainland Britain, writing a sonnet on each day of the journey from Dunnet Head to Ardnamurchan Point and from Lowestoft Ness to Lizard Point. These sonnets – raw and unedited after their composition – serve as a travelogue in the spirit of Bill Bryson as Chan journeys through the mundane, the ethereal, and the points between.
Chan is a former football coach and schoolmaster who spent many years teaching English and Latin at the independent school Stowe. In his late twenties, he entered – as he playfully terms it – the ‘adventuring phase’ of his life: trekking up Mount Kilimanjaro and joining passels of pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. These explorations were the foundation stones for his Four Points walk. Born in Hong Kong, raised in Australia and now settled in Britain, much of his work deals with the confluence of national identities. He is presently writing a series of stories centered on displaced individuals – perhaps to be completed after another pilgrimage, from London to Rome, while reviewing restaurants along the way.
“Tony has reached into the past and brought us a new way of seeing an old, familiar form, and he has done it with skill...slight unevenness is all part of the fun, part of the hugely generous vision, the willingness to push on, which makes this collection ultimately so rewarding and enjoyable.” — Toby Martinez de Las Rivas