Adam Aitken

Adam Aitken was born in London and spent his early childhood in Thailand and Malaysia. He has been a recipient of the Australia Council Paris Studio Residency, and was Visiting Distinguished Professor at the University of Hawai’i Manoa. He co-edited the Contemporary Asian Australian Poets anthology (Puncher & Wattmann). His memoir One Hundred Letters Home (Vagabond Press) was published in 2016 and was listed for the ASAL gold medal. Archipelago, his latest collection of poetry, was shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Award and the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards in 2018.


In the vigilant years, when the sunset rises to nothing you see entirely what the screen sees, completely at one with that and don’t have to suffer. To persist through autumn. Keep pruning the herbs, like a Benedictine monk: resentment …

Posted in 101: NO THEME 10 | Tagged

Pilgrim Brother

My Other reminds me of a Viking prince piloting a hot air balloon in Central Desert cumulus. Currency-lad come good, no need to spend his rent on a nicked Beemer. His old mates take the prize for mayhem. I see …

Posted in 86: NO THEME VII | Tagged


After harvest there were autumn days of airy nothings. Plein-air. I hoped that one day, like this we could build ourselves a new estate to take the place of the old one indexed to its horizon of dismantled chateaux. We …

Posted in 82: LAND | Tagged

Winter, Fifth Avenue, New York (1893)

How I might learn to know by looking at something a long time, the way head, heart and hands infuse darkroom chemistry, Stieglitz trying too hard to always make the light exactly what we see: a planned attempt at definition …

Posted in 79: EKPHRASTIC | Tagged

Alyosha Wiengpong, Untitled and Translated

Untitled Bound and syntaxed, threads of words in books transfix me Create their own being, slither like snakes Leave a crust of slough upon the flat dry tussock grass The skin thrilled, covered with tired letters Only the backbone precarious, …

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Review Short: Timothy Yu’s 100 Chinese Silences

Recently I watched a program on the resurgence of Pauline Hanson. In one scene Hanson stands in her old fish and chip shop in Ipswich, Queensland, a business she sold to a Vietnamese Australian lady named Mrs Thanh. Hanson boasts of her hard work, and takes over the frying. Hanson proceeds to advise Mrs Thanh on how to make potato scallops fluffier.

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Adam Aitken Interviews Martin Harrison

I’ve known Martin Harrison since 1985, when I first met him in Newtown, New South Wales. I had been an undergraduate and aspiring poet at the University of Sydney, and we were neighbours.

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Adam Aitken Reviews Nicola Madzirov and Jan-Willem Anker

I am holidaying in a small farming hamlet in the south of France. I have brought two books of poetry written by contemporary Europeans and republished in handsome Vagabond Press European Series editions. A Sydneysider most of my life, I’ve been coming to France regularly since the mid-1990s, accompanied by my wife who’s English and whose parents live in the region. I’m enjoying my dose of the old world, but thinking, what is home? And what is home to me and to these farmers? More precisely, what is it about Europe today that we value?

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The Sherriff Buys Hawai’i

O’Hara in pyjamas Stevens in Fedora Mel Gibson drunk. One smart feriner shoots up the Common Room. But only a dream of all the heroes I wanna be. Officially I am Alien Resident. I rustles up some buddies tough white …

Posted in 57: MASQUE | Tagged

Asian Australian Diasporic Poets: A Commentary

This essay provides a survey of the poetry of some Asian Australian poets, and does not attempt to be definitive. Diasporic poetics raise more questions than they answer and are just as much about dis-placement as about place, just as much about a ‘poetics of uncertainty’ as about certainties of style/nation/identity.

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The Coffee Bean Prophecies

1 In Laos, when people see Good Luck, they’ll touch you on the arm and ask your name and where you are going. They’ll want to be there when the snake crosses the road, when the monk anoints their wrists …

Posted in 50: JACKPOT! | Tagged

Adam Aitken Reviews John Mateer

Southern Barbarians is a book that explores both the colonised and the colonizing impulse through the inflections of the Portuguese epic Os Lusíadas by Camões, the explorer/soldier/poet-traveller and heroic poet of the Portuguese. The book ranges from Lisbon to Macao, taking in Indonesia, Malaysia, Warrnambool, and Japan on the way. This is a world where African businessmen in Macao see ‘African wildlife’ in a travel agent’s window, in an image of savannah they are no closer to than the Macanese.”

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Remember the sundowner, those bullet point recipes for WW2 American cocktails? Those poolside romps with vacationing English teachers, sunburnished Nova Scotian girls? Remember the Dubai go-between? Before you went for the sainthood? Remember the days of caramel brandy and Bali …

Posted in 28: INNOCENCE | Tagged

Adam Aitken Reviews Philip Hammial

Who is Philip Hammial? If you read Hammial's 16th book of poems, it will strike you as surprisingly biographical without sounding too auto-biographical – after all it's Philip Hammial poetry. Who is Philip Hammial, the poet? What's his world?

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Lament: The Chicken Rice Hawker, Penang

Adam Aitken is the author of Romeo and Juliet in Subtitles (Brandl and
Schlesinger). He is now completing an unreliable (fictionalised) memoir
about his parents.

Posted in 18: ROOTS | Tagged

Hybrid Heaven

Two-way MMDS: Today and Tomorrow (HEV) Program. Search. What is an HEV HEV Components Frequently 2000 HYBRID Comments? swap kits, customization and modification of the model. It's not just a concept. Graphical tutorial explains the workings with low prices and …

Posted in 16: SEARCH | Tagged

Three Sonnets

‘The East is a career.' – Benjamin Disraeli 1. The Maharaja from Maroubra My jumbo landed its one wheel of faith. The runway of the heart was dark. Our import was a virus that flooded their cells then decimated the …

Posted in 06: NEW POETRY | Tagged

The Lemons of Lands End

It was worth it, forty pence for the Cornish Express. (the broadsheet, not the bus) in a grocer shop Lands End way. And the wait, so long; for the bus would never come they said, no one here had seen …

Posted in 03: NEXT WAVE | Tagged