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Poetry Women Authors

Baby Book

by (author) Amy Ching-Yan Lam

Brick Books
Initial publish date
Apr 2023
Women Authors, General, Canadian
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2023
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Apr 2023
    List Price

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2023 Governor General's Award for Poetry Finalist

Longlisted 2024 Gerald Lampert Award

"God is personal," the astrologer said. Terrifying and also personal, like a baby.

Direct and humorous, Baby Book stacks story upon story to explore how beliefs are first formed. From a family vacation on a discount bus tour to a cosmogony based on cheese, these poems accumulate around principles of contingency and revelation. Amy Ching-Yan Lam describes the vivid tactility of growth and death—how everything is constantly, painfully remade—offering a vision against the stuck narratives of property and inheritance. Power is located in the senses, in wind: multiple and restless.

About the author

Amy Ching-Yan Lam is an artist and writer. She is the author of Looty Goes to Heaven (2022) and her poems have been published by Book Works, Montez Press, and yolkless press. Baby Book is her first collection of poetry. Lam's exhibitions, performances, and public artworks, both solo and as part of the collective Life of a Craphead, have been presented at Seoul MediaCity Biennale, Eastside Projects, and Art Gallery of Ontario, amongst others, and she has participated in residencies at Macdowell and Delfina Foundation. She lives in Toronto, which is Mississauga Anishinaabeg treaty territory, as well as the land of the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat. Lam was born in Hong Kong.

Amy Ching-Yan Lam's profile page

Excerpt: Baby Book (by (author) Amy Ching-Yan Lam)

from Protection

The opportunity to have ANY DESIRE MADE REAL was
given to a person.
The astrologer told this story on his podcast.

The lucky person asked to experience the vastness of God.
Their wish was granted, but the experience of vastness was
hellish and terrifying. They begged to be released.
Finally, to their reprieve, God re-appeared, in the form of
a baby with both its big toes in its mouth.

God is personal, the astrologer said. Terrifying and also personal, like a baby.

Then at dinner Emerson talked about his neighbours who
caught a mouse.
They found it so cute, they didn't want to kill it or exile it, so
they put it in a gerbil cage and fed it treats and named it.
But soon they had to move to another country.
They couldn’t take the mouse with them, so they tried to give
it to the Humane Society. The Humane Society said,
"We don't take mice."
So then they tried to set the mouse free, but by that time it
didn't want to leave the cage, it didn't want to go.

At night in bed I thought, Oh God, please help me.
Please protect me and my family.

Protect us from the hellish vastness of society.
Imagining a tent made of yellow light, sheltering me and my

Editorial Reviews

"I loved reading this book. Amy Ching-Yan Lam's writing swims in the gravest sweetness, like a brain." — Hannah Black, author of Tuesday or September or the End

"What happens when a sense memory steals us away? Like a hole cut into a museum wall that pulls smells from the cafe downstairs into the gallery, Amy Ching-Yan Lam's poems are a seduction of non-destination. What becomes of a sense memory who is also an ancestor? An ancestor never met, an ancestor-to-become, an ancestor to spend more time with. Baby Book's collective surrogacy undoes lineage for all our sakes. For the sake of death, for the sake of life, for heaven's sake, praise this beautiful Baby Book." — Park McArthur, artist

"Baby Book is a gorgeous book of poems that refract global histories through the prisms of social, familial, and daily life. Lam's poems are full of pleasure and surprise." — Aurelia Guo, author of World of Interiors

"These poems draw the reader in with the intimacy of the personal and the individual, only to break your heart with the collective world-making violences of colonial extraction, displacement, and capitalism’s accumulations. These are poems and a poetics of ethics." — Rinaldo Walcott, author of On Property

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