Synopses & Reviews
My Baby First Birthday is about existence and non-existence. It's about being born — without consent. Jenny Zhang writes about accepting pain, about the way we fetishize womanhood and motherhood, and reduce women to their violations, traumas, and body parts. She questions the way we feminize and racialize nurturing, and live in service of other people's dreams. How we idealize birth and being baby, how it's only in our mothers' wombs that we're still considered innocent, blameless, and undamaged, because it's only then that we don't have to earn love. Her poems explore the obscenity of patriarchy, whiteness, and capitalism, the violence of rescue and heroism. The magic trick in this book is that despite all these themes, the book never feels like some jeremiad. Zhang uses friendship as a lyric. She seeks tenderness, radiant beauty, and having love for your mistakes. Through all this, she writes about being alone — really alone, like why was I ever born alone — and trying, despite everything, to reach out and touch something — skin to skin, animal to animal.
"Jenny Zhang will always be one of the most important poets writing today. She consistently and constantly stretches the lyric to its necessary and best intentions, telling it where it only may dream or dare to go." Dorothea Lasky, author of Milk
"An all-consuming anger had me devouring this book in one sitting. And the book devoured me. We burned together." Mitski
"My Baby First Birthday is like performing when you suspect someone is watching vs when you hope someone will pay attention. It's viscous, oozing with anger and humor and sexy, sexy death. I love how it opens and opens and opens itself, exasperated by the world history of contradiction and inequality — yet, despite itself, retains a tender, caring core. This book is literally breathtaking. By the end I had to remind myself to breathe." Tommy Pico, author of Feed
About the Author
Jenny Zhang was born in Shanghai and grew up in New York. She is the author of the poetry collection Dear Jenny, We Are All Find and the story collection Sour Heart.