Adam Aitken



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 …

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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. I hung out with a coterie who often gathered at the Courthouse Hotel, on Australia Street a few blocks north of Martin’s house; a group that included John Forbes, John Tranter, Pam Brown, Gig Ryan, Laurie Duggan, Dipti Saravanamuttu, Jan Harry, Joanne Burns, Rae Desmond Jones, and Chris Mansell among others. Martin was someone from another literary scene, but I was not put off by that as I found him immensely intelligent, warm, witty, and encouraging to young poets.

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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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Timothy Yu Reviews Contemporary Asian Australian Poets

Contemporary Asian Australian PoetsA 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 …

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Asian-Australian Diasporic Poets: A Commentary

Diaspora Bell“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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Liam Ferney reviews Pam Brown and Adam Aitken

True Thoughts by Pam Brown

Salt Publishing, 2008

Eighth Habitation by Adam Aitken

Giaramondo, 2009

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. Part of Pam Brown's latest collection, True Thoughts, was written in Rome under the auspices of a BR Whiting Fellowship while Adam Aitken's fourth collection, Eighth Habitation, was penned in Cambodia and other parts of Asia with the support of the Australia Council for the Arts.

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