Odes & Laments

Fiona Tinwei Lam

Through poems that celebrate the overlooked beauty in the everyday or that mourn human incursions upon the natural world, Fiona Tinwei Lam weaves polythematic threads into a shimmering tapestry that reveals the complexities of being human in an environment under threat. Inspired by Pablo Neruda’s Elemental Odes, this wide-ranging and diverse collection plays with the yin and yang of everyday existence, employing lyricism, narrative, humour and an occasional dash of irreverence and fun through visual play with text and typography.

“Fiona Tinwei Lam’s Odes & Laments is a collection of poems that speak with lyrical eloquence of the beauty of a world under threat. A wry wit weaves itself through this collection, leavening the poems of lament with poems of praise, sometimes surprising the reader with exuberant forays across the page in the form of concrete poems. But even in the playful moments there is seriousness, and even in the laments there is the deep consolation of a focussed and intelligent attention. ‘As the world smoulders,’ writes Lam, ‘let each poem be/a fallen tree’s tongue.’ As the world transforms, these odes and laments in their concentrated attentiveness are love songs to the fragile, ordinary, vanishing objects and beings of this fraught time.”

—Rachel Rose

“The poems in Fiona Tinwei Lam’s latest collection, Odes & Laments, are both sharp and rich, brimming with insight and optimism. While the collection spans the spectrum from the lyric to the concrete, these poems always seem to cohere, always find a place, always intertwine and interconnect. Odes & Laments is an excellent book! And one that I am excited to return to again and again.”

—Jordan Abel

Fiona discusses the Pablo Neruda quote that opens her collection with All Lit Up.

Read “Sea Star” and “Ode to a Crow”, forthcoming in Odes & Laments, in Cascadia Magazine (2019 March 26).

Watch “Plasticnic,” an animated video poem based on a poem by the same name in Odes & Laments, here.

The League of Canadian Poets has selected “Chopsticks,” a poem forthcoming in Odes & Laments, as one of fifteen poems to circulate for National Poetry Month’s Poem in Your Pocket Program. Read it here.