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list price: $19.95
edition:Paperback
category: Poetry
published: Sep 2009
ISBN:9781551522920
publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press

Automaton Biographies

by Larissa Lai

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0 of 5
0 ratings
rated!
rated!
list price: $19.95
edition:Paperback
category: Poetry
published: Sep 2009
ISBN:9781551522920
publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press
Description

Shortlisted for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize

Automaton Biographies is the first full-length solo poetry book by novelist Larissa Lai (When Fox is a Thousand, Salt Fish Girl).

With an ear to the white noise of advertising, pop music, CNN, biotechnology, the Norton Anthology of English Literature, cereal packaging, and MuchMusic, Lai explores the problem of what it means to exist on the boundaries of the human.

The books consists of four long poems: "Rachel," a meditation in the voice of the cyborg figure Rachel from Ridley Scott's film Blade Runner and its source material, Philip K.Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?; "nascent fashion," which addresses contemporary war and its excesses; "Ham," which circulates around the chimpanzee named Ham sent up into space as part of the Mercury Redstone missions by NASA in the 1960s and later donated to the Coulston Foundation for biomedicalresearch; and "auto matter," a kind of unfoldingautobiography told in poems.

Ambitious, eloquent, and deeply personal, these poems taken as a whole are a personal and cultural history that jostles us out of our humanness and into our relations to animal, machine, language, and one another.

About the Author

Larissa Lai was born in La Jolla, California, grew up in St. John's, Newfoundland, and currently lives in Calgary. She holds a PhD in English from the University of Calgary and an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. She was awarded an Astraea Foundation Emerging Writers Award in 1995. Her novel When Fox is a Thousand was first published by Press Gang Publishers in 1995; a new edition, featuring an afterword by the author, was published by Arsenal Pulp Press in 2004. In 2009, she published Automaton Biographies (Arsenal Pulp), her first solo poetry book that was shortlisted for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize at the BC Book Prizes. She is also the author of Salt Fish Girl (Thomas Allen Publishers, 2002), as well as a book-length collaborative long poem with Rita Wong called sybil unrest, published by Line Books in 2009.

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Awards
  • Short-listed, BC Book Prize
Editorial Reviews

Automaton Biographies reckons with matters of identity and questions what it is to be human in our current geopolitcal and technological contexts.
?Quill and Quire

— Quill and Quire

[Larissa Lai's] playful pulling of pop lyrics and manipulation of movie scenarios are filtered through the depth and importance of documenting possible shifts in what it means to be human in an era of increasing technologization.... She pulls the globalized advertising image to the surface so that it operates outside of media function, and we can actually see the social world in which we live, not the peoplesoft version that is continually constructed for us to see.
?The Georgia Straight

— Georgia Straight

In Automaton Biographies, Larissa Lai machine-tools the poem as a mode of narrative invention into a neuro-spatial surveillance where words become the heat tiles of re-entry tumbling through atmospheres of cyborgian desire, cosmic memory, prosthetic lament, and the dictation of identity. Poetry like this is just what we need for the invasion; writing that honours the debris of the imagination while it sustains the space labs of attention.
?Fred Wah

— Fred Wah

Part exoskeletal enjambment, part shared soft biology, Automaton Biographies wends through creative industries and uncommon commons, picking up the shards of both our latent futures and our Polaroid pasts. Larissa Lai jacks into a sound system here that is already spinning everything from White Zombie to Elton John. Her stanzas, staccato and severe, deftly kern our ears to new iTunes and weTunes, creating poems that are simultaneously partial, powerful, and ever-emerging from the post-industrial landscapes where new technologies and alienated labor continue to collide.
?Mark Nowak

— Mark Nowak

The world is revealed as a circus in Lai's book---"barnum" becomes a verb here---vertiginous, illusory, distracting, surreal; but importantly the work disallows our spectatorship, insists that we grab the trapeze and swing in to speak, question, act.
?Canadian Literature

— Canadian Literature

Lai makes her point with a precise and emotive execution of rhythm, flow, and diction. What evolves is an unwavering commitment to language and honesty.
?make/shift

— make/shift

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