Enter the Chrysanthemum

Caitlin Press, 2009

Enter the Chrysanthemum is a luminous collection of poems about family, love, and loss.  Whether written from the vantage point of a young child observing her parents, a parent struggling to raise a child, or a daughter watching a parent’s decline and death, these poems delve into the complexities and power of human connection.

“Fiona Lam’s poems are beautifully written, wise, tender, and very moving. There’s a sense throughout of a heart that is deeply human and eloquently authentic.” – Don Domanski

“Lam’s poems are notable for their clarity and scrupulous diction, and for the beauty of their imagery.” – Elise Partridge

“There’s nectar and poison in Enter the Chrysanthemum, kiss and sting.”   -Barry Dempster


“Lam looks inward–to the self, the genealogy, the home, the local…. the telling, domestic detail….    [A]n accomplished collection.”      – George Elliott Clarke,  The Chronicle-Herald

“A single mother struggles with the banal tragedies of a particular life: the experience is commonplace, but Lam expresses it with distinctive tenderness, restraint and intensity. She elevates the collection’s remarkably consistent voice into one that recalls and transcends the specific truth of her own life to articulate the common truths of others…. Enter the Chrysanthemum is one of those rare books of poetry that compels one to read on until the end.”   – Martin Alexander,  Cha Literary Journal

“[Lam] describes intense moments in life: aching loss, the inability to reclaim….  Her surface rhythm and clarity create both overt meaning and the impression that there is much more just below the finely crafted surface. She is adept in creating a kind of redemption through tightly constructed lines….”       -Kim Morden, Event

“To enter Vancouver poet Fiona Lam’s book, Enter the Chrysanthemum, is to enter a world of words that are fresh and lean.”   – Heidi Greco, Prairie Fire

“Her poems express powerful, simple emotions with extraordinary clarity and restraint….”   – Brian Campbell (blog)

“The author has an amazing way of describing things we all know, but have never put into exact words…. Each poem in this book shows gorgeous imagery….”   -League of Canadian Poets, YoungPoets.ca

“[The poems in section one] unfold the child’s complex relationship with her parents with all the beauty of the unfolding chrysanthemums….In the end, though, it’s perhaps the subtle way each of these poems reflects on each other that I most like about this book.”      – Loren Webster (blog)

“Just like the versatile flower, each poem in Fiona Tinwei Lam’s Enter the Chrysanthemum transcends the immediacy of its imagery and delivers singular moments into the realm of the profound and universal.  In these poems, Lam plucks out everyday interactions that, while seemingly innocent and familiar, cover the tenuous connections that lie at the heart of human relationships.”     – Frances Cabahug, Pacific Rim Review of Books

“Poignant and touching, Enter Chrysanthemum is a top pick.” –Midwest Book Review ( USA)

(The author is donating her royalties from the sale of this book to the YWCA’s Single Mothers’ Services in Vancouver.)