Intimate Distances

Nightwood Editions, 2002
Finalist for the City of Vancouver Book Award, 2003

This insightful and grippingly honest debut collection of poems focuses on intimate relationships with family, partners and lovers.  These poems move from childhood through to parenthood, exploring universal themes of grief, struggle, and love.

“It’s [a book] to be savoured. Her approachable and sometimes spine-shivering lyrics zero in on the turning points in the story of one Chinese-Canadian family, her own….”   – George Fetherling, The Vancouver Sun

“The poems are explosive–the family in shards, which the book patiently pieces together. The combination is fascinating…..[E]ach birth, each repetition with a difference, is the rebirth of the whole.”   – Roo Borson

“Here is a journey made with a keen-eyed guide through almost unbearable territories of love…..”  – Kate Braid

“Lam takes the reader through the cycles of death and life with a fine sensitivity, an intense passion, and a resolute courage.”  -Rita Wong


“. . .an overriding sensation of balancing light and dark, of a voice not only finding its place in form, but of testing the limits of painful and intimate territory with candidness and poise .”  – Arc Magazine

“Fiona Tinwei Lam deals with the question of societal roles and how to play them . . . You go with her on a search for appropriate rituals to mark the sudden beauty and pain of family life. The poems talk about togetherness as they pound each other apart . . . You realize that this is where Lam does her best writing: in the domestic space, the constriction of marriage, the sensuous beauty of parenting and its attendant frustrations. You see the emotional strength required just to get through the poetic day.”
-Jacqueline Turner, The Georgia Straight, January 2-9, 2003

“Lam’s voice has a mature, cured quality that is devoid of pretension. She communicates intensity without overstatement, and you can feel the proximity between your life and her words. If I were to have a hyphenated string of adjectives to describe me, I doubt I’d share any terms with Fiona Tinwei Lam. At the same time, I feel remarkably comfortable with her poetry. This book gets a respectful grunt of approval from me, and I have a strange feeling that getting into her poetry now may give you bragging rights later.” -The Ubyssey