Adam Aitken

Jennifer Mackenzie Reviews Grace Yee and Adam Aitken

“The limits of my language are the limits of my world.” During the excitement of multiple events and literary get-togethers at the Ubud Writers Festival this year, the Indian poet, Sudeep Sen, brought to my attention Wittgenstein’s well-known quotation from the Tractatus of 1922. It seemed particularly apt as multiple languages, overheard in the daily comings and goings around festival sites, lit up many a conversation.

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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

David Gilbey Reviews Adam Aitken and Elizabeth Allen

In a judicious review of two ‘lucid and intelligent books’ on the job of the literary critic* and of a new edition of Eric Auerbach’s Mimesis, Edward Mendelsohn argued against the essential nostalgia of criticism in favour of a version of Kant’s ‘universal subjective’: finding ways to cross ‘the disputed border between popular and elite culture … without pretending it doesn’t exist’.

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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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Review Short: Adam Aitken’s One Hundred Letters Home

It has taken me more than a hundred days to read Adam Aitken’s One Hundred Letters Home. The book arrived in my letterbox in Sydney at the beginning of May. Autumn turned into winter, and the fragments of Aitken’s palimpsest-memoir started to unfold themselves to me.

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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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Timothy Yu Reviews Contemporary Asian Australian Poets

A decade ago, Cordite Poetry Review asked me to write a review of its tenth issue, ‘Location: Asia-Australia.’ In my review, I wrote that while the issue did a splendid job of showing the intersection between two separate places called ‘Asia’ and ‘Australia,’ it was less clear whether the ‘Asian-Australian’ could also be a thing unto itself, a kind of writing that might be visible within domestic as well as international spaces.

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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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Liam Ferney Reviews Pam Brown and Adam Aitken

Poetry doesn't pay the bills but it does have benefits; claiming your internet and a trip to Melbourne back on tax, for instance. Or the overseas fellowships distributing poets across the globe like water from a sprinkler, as is the case with the authors of the titles under review.

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Adam Aitken: Lines from The Lover

It was never a question of beauty but something else. Mind for example. For a long time you had no dress of your own, except those your mother had her servant make. D–• could sew with hair-fine needles, pleats and …

Posted in 32: MULLOWAY | Tagged

Adam Aitken: Notes on the River

Prologue     a river's there for cutting grass for police to drop their pants have their fill al fresco for girls to sober up on a life whittled away by extortion icons of shame drifting in the garden shadows …

Posted in 32: MULLOWAY | Tagged


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