Amy Ching-Yan Lam is an artist and poet who was born in Hong Kong and now lives in Toronto/Tkaronto. Her first full-length poetry collection is forthcoming from Brick Books in Spring 2023.
Kingston, ON: Brick Books, 2023.
e-book (Access restricted to members of the university community)
Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)
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.
Awards and Honours
2023 Governor General’s Literary Awards–Poetry, English (Finalist)
The Four Onions
[Calgary]: Yolkless Press, 2021.
Printed with risograph cover, hand bound in an edition of 150 copies.
Second printing in an edition of 75 copies.
Synopsis (From the author’s website)
These poems started with food. I was writing down what I talked about most, and I talked a lot about the things I eat and don’t eat. For example, beef jerky vs. eggs. I realize now that food was the beginning because 1) my parents ran a café/diner during my adolescence and 2) I am learning about the relationship between history and the senses.
Fiction (Artist book; companion to a video exhibition and project held 4 June-8 August 2022 in Birmingham, UK)
Looty Goes to Heaven
Description from Eastside Projects Project website
A small Pekingese dog was taken from China at the end of the Second Opium War by British troops, brought to England, and gifted to Queen Victoria. This dog was renamed Looty, after the activity of “looting,” in reference to how the dog was found during the looting of the Summer Palace (Yuanmingyuan) outside of Beijing. Looty lived for twelve years at the British royal palaces and died in 1872. It is not known where she was buried.
Amy Ching-Yan Lam revives Looty’s story in the context of Birmingham, which is the current site of Crufts, the largest dog show in the world, as well as the home of Ty-phoo tea, a brand named after the Chinese word for doctor. The colonial trades of tea and opium were closely linked and directly led to the Opium Wars, and the arrival of Pekingese dogs in England informed by new trends in dog breeding and eugenics. For close to fifty years, Pekingese dogs were the most popular breed of toy dog in England.
Looty Goes to Heaven takes the form of an animation, a speculative fiction, and a poppy meadow, presented in the area of Digbeth. The looping animation, made in collaboration with artist Emerson Maxwell, shows Looty in a state of eternal rest on screens in Digbeth and Victoria Square. The speculative fiction book, available in English and Traditional Chinese, imagines what Looty’s life and afterlife may have been like. The book is available for free at Eastside Projects and other screening sites.