Fiona Tinwei Lam
Fiona Tinwei Lam is a Scottish-born, Vancouver-based writer whose work has appeared in literary magazines across the country, as well as in the Globe & Mail, and anthologies in Canada, the US and Hong
Kong. Her work has also been featured as part of B.C.'s Poetry in Transit program. Her book of poetry, Intimate Distances (Nightwood 2002), was a finalist for the City of Vancouver Book Award. Twice short-listed for the Event literary non-fiction contest, she is a co-editor of and contributor to the anthology of personal essays, Double Lives: Writing and Motherhood (McGill-Queens University Press, 2008). Her work will also be appearing in Best Canadian Poetry 2010 (Tightrope Books, 2010), edited by Lorna Crozier. Her most recent collection of poetry, Enter the Chrysanthemum (Caitlin, 2009), depicts the journey into single parenthood, exploring themes of family, love and loss. She is a former lawyer.
'Enter the Chrysanthemum' is a luminous collection of poems about family, love and loss. Employing precise imagery and concise language, Lam plumbs and mines ordinary events and experiences to find a central core of poetic insight and sometimes harrowing truth. Whether written from the vantage point of a young child observing her parents, a single …
A stunning first book from one of the Chinese-Canadian community's most insightful and grippingly honest young voices, Intimate Distances is a deep exploration of the vicissitudes of interpersonal connection and family relationships. Lam writes poignantly and vividly about her background: her father's early death during her childhood, the end of ma …
After English school, we took the bus three days a week
to a Chinese church basement and a teacher
who looked like Chairman Mao with a perm.
Dreaming of TV, we sat at tables
with our textbooks open to rhymes
about cows and sheep going up mountains,
the shepherds who looked for them,
good students who arrived early to school
while mothers made meals and fathers worked.
Each lesson, the teacher conducted
our choir of fingers, new words
poked, brushed and sliced into the air--
the three drops of water,
flat lines like ladder rungs,
lines straight down with slight flicks to the left,
or tapered tails, swept in or out.
We learned how a mouth is a square
with a hollow inside; two trees make a forest;
the sun and the moon side by side
can be bright as a mind; peace
is a woman under the roof of a home;
how man stands in the centre
of both fire and sky.
these geometric days, bounded
by brushcut grass
lean lopsided into a sky
incised by wire grids,
nets for ephemeral
a satellite platter
funnels a particled world
into a glowing cube
we huddle before it,
avid for evidence
of life outside our