My Baby First Birthday

My Baby First Birthday

by Jenny Zhang


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A New York Public Library Best Book of 2020

A Best Read of 2020 at Ms. Magazine

"To read Jenny Zhang is to embrace primal states: pleasure, hunger, longing and rage." —TIME

Radiant and tender, My Baby First Birthday is a collection that examines innocence, asking us who gets to be loved and who has to deplete themselves just to survive. 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 My Baby First Birthday 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781947793811
Publisher: Tin House Books
Publication date: 05/12/2020
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 541,738
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.70(h) x 0.70(d)

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.

Table of Contents


I keep thinking there is an august 3

Summer solstice 5

My baby first birthday 6

Everything is scary but yr love is good 10

Flush in the spirals of black holes 11

Bad day 12

Your whole body is slanted 13

Needs revision! 15

What is with you 21

Jenny's theme / walk away and embrace 22

Could I ever? 23

We were lonelier in there 25

What a terrible ****!!! 28

Same lesson over and over again forever 29

Leetle 30

Jenny's theme / have to accept 32

Dreams / So Bright Outside I Can't See 33

It is so lonely to be strong 35

It was terrible to hear the leaves 36

The Last Five Centuries Were Uneventful 38


My baby first birthday 43

Ted talk 45

Ariana's theme 47

Becoming a person was easy 48

Don't you get it 49

Seppuku 50

Little tea party at home 52

Uncle boo 55

Jenny's trying 56

Universal Energy Is About to Intervene in Your Life 57

Castles in the air for the very very 60

Yeast 62

You are the poorest person here 63

My sword 65

My baby first birthday 66

Ariana's theme (reprise) 67

Natural 68

Ymca 69

Suddenly I'm so hungry 72

Ell 73

"revision" 75

There is only world 76

Jenny's trying (reprise) 78

With my mother in nice 79

Goo goo water 81


Everyone's girlfriend 85

It's spring 87

Screenshot for later 89

It was a period when cunt was m the air 90

Hammer 92

It's so intoxicating to be unwell 97

No 98

There is Nothing to Say 99

Spring discourse 101

I feel nothing but hatred hatred hatred hatred 102

It brought you 103

Don't 104

Is it possible for me to become the person you love the most in your life 106

Tanaïs's theme 108

I had a lot to say 109

Why would you ever be friends with her? 111

Groupon 113

Fidget 114

Jenny's trying / victoria's theme 117

Someone 118

Remember / it brought you (reprise) 119

Aegean 120


Your pubes are everywhere 125

Great 127

Brittani's theme 129

Dumb theory 130

I know others before me have been this way 132

I'm a 30 year old White non racist male, with some of my closest friends being Black. With that being said 133

I will go for forty five minutes 138

From the dead dark into the green 140

We must rapidly begin 142

It is finally midsummer 144

Ie morning of yesterday's yesterday is for once soft 146

I have to 147

I would have no pubes if I were truly in love 148

Shamepuff 153

Communication ≠ connection 155

Worried 157

I didn't know better 158

Which is why I am telling you about this now 161

A troll 162

Haha hey 165

Baby's first birthday 167

Instant Classic 170

A little life / everyone's theme 172

The natural sunlight goes away 173

Is there a way to drain a lake you are afraid you will one day drown in? 175

Why do we have to all be someone 178

Volition 179

Under the chiming bell 180

Your Problems 182

It Was So Bright I Could Not See 184

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