Adam Aitken

Adam Aitken's last collection was Archipelago (Vagabond Press), which was shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Award for Poetry. He is co-editor of Contemporary Asian Australian Poets (Puncher & Wattmann).

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 57.1: 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

Remnants of Another AgeI 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 …

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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 …

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Adam Aitken Reviews John Mateer

Southern BarbariansSouthern Barbarians (Giramondo Publishing, 2011)

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 26.0: INNOCENCE | Tagged