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Automaton Biographies

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Poetry about the search for self amidst the shrill din of technology.


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Poetry about the search for self amidst the shrill din of technology.

30 review for Automaton Biographies

  1. 4 out of 5

    boocia

    good! a real poet's poetry collection though; in that it is v dense and complex and self-referencing in that way where i read this book twice because it really isn't linear in some ways. breathtaking density+consistency of wordplay. a sample: "oh brother artful art thou / seeking the how of our connection / only to understand yourself / shelf shakespeared not stirred / ... / telltale heart beating in surrogate body / your innocent double / frank-n-furtive". it's fun, it's pretty delicious, but i good! a real poet's poetry collection though; in that it is v dense and complex and self-referencing in that way where i read this book twice because it really isn't linear in some ways. breathtaking density+consistency of wordplay. a sample: "oh brother artful art thou / seeking the how of our connection / only to understand yourself / shelf shakespeared not stirred / ... / telltale heart beating in surrogate body / your innocent double / frank-n-furtive". it's fun, it's pretty delicious, but i struggled because a lot of these call backs are v culturally contextualized - references to movies or historical moments i don't have the full 'vibe' of and so it's difficult to see where the poem is going above "oh, i recognize this reference by name". especially an issue in the fourth poem section "auto matter", which is autobiographical + family history. the other stylistic choice that i liked was verbing nouns, especially in the first poem, 'rachel'. it causes this pleasing but also running-out-of-breath tumbling effect where there are no places to pause: "i athena my own sprouting / this knowledge colds me / ... / i owl my blink". style aside the contents of this poetry book were really cool! 'rachel' was about rachael in blade runner, and it weaved a narrative of a human-android hybrid but also chinese-white hybrid rachel, twinning the two identities. 'nascent fashion' was this really discombobulating meditation on imperialism + migration + asian sex workers all at once, rough one, but very tight and focused. 'ham' was great. it was about the chimp named 'ham' who went to space, and had my favorite line of this collection: "fleas i'd groom off your arms / if i were i". this one felt most explicitly like praxis to 'primate visions' theory; about the existential position of chimps and animals generally; about the medicalization/scientific-exploitation of bodies; the cyborgization of ham specifically as an object of study and an agent of research, etc. good one. just good impressions all around from 'ham'. i did struggle with 'auto matter'; which was about larissa lai's family history from her great great grandparents down to her, and specifically the effect of: "if the communists hadn't liberated / if the british hadn't colonized / if mccarthy hadn't scared", and also: "between imperial japanese lines of attack and british colonial defense / read silence to find family" . which i think defines the project to some degree; diaspora history poems are really memory poems; and it seems her take is to really lean into the war and displacement and revolution (big historical moments) for memory, which is really the best you can do other than speculate about how your grandparents were feeling at the time. she approached trauma only obliquely, did not steal as her own any trauma from her relatives, which i appreciated. i do like how she has a few poems in this section that are specifically about the concept of memory/the subconscious to lampshade this fact, and interpolates poems about her great-great-grandparents fleeing to taiwan from (??) with her own memories of growing up in canada. anyway i don't know if i'd recommend this book if you aren't committed to the bit; it's p incomprehensible unless you're patient + diligent, but i did glean a few nuggets here and there so that was good.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Roo

    Full disclosure: I generally do not enjoy poetry unless it is composed by Emily Dickinson, E.E. Cummings, or Edgar Allan Poe. I have always been more of a novel person - I live for the kind of character development, plot advancement, and complex messages that comes with reading a book. So to summarize, my fondness for poetry is very limited. That being said, I really disliked "Automaton Biographies." I think this piece would have worked better as personal musings to be kept to oneself. Again, I Full disclosure: I generally do not enjoy poetry unless it is composed by Emily Dickinson, E.E. Cummings, or Edgar Allan Poe. I have always been more of a novel person - I live for the kind of character development, plot advancement, and complex messages that comes with reading a book. So to summarize, my fondness for poetry is very limited. That being said, I really disliked "Automaton Biographies." I think this piece would have worked better as personal musings to be kept to oneself. Again, I admit I am simple-minded when it comes to poetry, but it just seemed like a majority of the poems were only relatable to a small audience. That being said, I did appreciate the section of the collection dedicated to telling the immigrant narrative. It offered a unique lens to a story shared by so many human beings. While I have reiterated many times my views on poetry, I am all-in-all glad I got to experience such an individualistic collection of poems, as it definitely broadened my poetic horizon!

  3. 4 out of 5

    M.W.P.M.

    he noirs his murders long coat big gun a kiss is just a bullet wound he knows my innermost femming this fatal injury - pg. 22 * * * bang bang chop chop chang up in a rocket what a man - song, pg. 89 * * * haven is relative "god's her own father and she don't even believe in 'im" our lady of lourdes romances another place, not here - say, pg. 128 * * * forces of hystery slap our asses to the shopping mall shirt a dress a rolex watch balms fetish to calm the open-jaw ticket - yee sup gow, pg. 155 he noirs his murders long coat big gun a kiss is just a bullet wound he knows my innermost femming this fatal injury - pg. 22 * * * bang bang chop chop chang up in a rocket what a man - song, pg. 89 * * * haven is relative "god's her own father and she don't even believe in 'im" our lady of lourdes romances another place, not here - say, pg. 128 * * * forces of hystery slap our asses to the shopping mall shirt a dress a rolex watch balms fetish to calm the open-jaw ticket - yee sup gow, pg. 155

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lesley

    Picked this up for a book vs film library program about Blade Runner/Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, specifically to bring the poem "rachel" into the discussion. Written from the ridley scott character's perspective, it's a pretty poignant meditation on being (or not being, seen as) human. What I loved most in this collection, though, is "nascent fashion." I read it as headlines discuss climate crisis, perpetual war, etc. and it absolutely tore me apart - something i want in a poem in momen Picked this up for a book vs film library program about Blade Runner/Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, specifically to bring the poem "rachel" into the discussion. Written from the ridley scott character's perspective, it's a pretty poignant meditation on being (or not being, seen as) human. What I loved most in this collection, though, is "nascent fashion." I read it as headlines discuss climate crisis, perpetual war, etc. and it absolutely tore me apart - something i want in a poem in moments like this. Would recommend, esp for sci-fi fans.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I really enjoyed the first collection o f poems that were written about blade runner. I found the film running before my eyes as I read it. Although Lai's skill with words is still so present in this collection I was not as drawn to the poems in this collection overall. The structure of the poems did not seem to match for me the texture of her words. I really enjoyed the first collection o f poems that were written about blade runner. I found the film running before my eyes as I read it. Although Lai's skill with words is still so present in this collection I was not as drawn to the poems in this collection overall. The structure of the poems did not seem to match for me the texture of her words.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia Shin

    This might be the best book of 2021 for me. Beautiful, creative, and of this age.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Review at asianamlitfans (cross-post from Galatea Resurrects). Review at asianamlitfans (cross-post from Galatea Resurrects).

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cory Salveson

  9. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Turek

  10. 4 out of 5

    Marc Lynch

  11. 4 out of 5

    Arsenal

  12. 4 out of 5

    Merin

  13. 4 out of 5

    k

  14. 5 out of 5

    XD

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kat

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ali Ghaderi

  17. 5 out of 5

    Serena

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nikki

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ching-In

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ken Hunt

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rita

  22. 5 out of 5

    Trish Salah

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

  24. 5 out of 5

    Cole Jack

  25. 4 out of 5

    Elise Hyrak

  26. 4 out of 5

    Maegan (maeganisreading)

  27. 4 out of 5

    Avalon

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jacky

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jasmin

  30. 4 out of 5

    danny

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