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.