The Hermit Poet

March 31, 2006

“Prodigal” finds a home in Crab Orchard Review!

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 12:31 pm

I’m not certain what to say, other than I’m really really happy that this poem has found a good home. I’ve been a long time fan of Crab Orchard Review and when they announced an issue with a “Defining Family” theme, I felt this was the right place for the poem.

“Prodigal” was written on the night recorded in this entry — although the entry doesn’t mention it, when I drove back looking up at the moon, the line “Here is a grief grown white as the moon tonight, so round with yearning” came to my mind. I kept rolling that line over in my head, thinking about a dear poet friend in Canada who had lost her adult son a few years back to a drug overdose. When I relayed the news of Nancy’s death she had said she was still lost in the wake of her own son’s passing, and while one sadness mingled with another, she had no more words for grief and could not begin to write or find a way out of sorrow. All this turned in my head and still I wondered at the beauty of the full moon so round, so pale, so close and yet impossibly out of reach. I went home and wrote down the poem that came to me and titled it “Prodigal” — for her son and for her wandering in the hinterlands between belief and despair.

This may be one of my most important poems — at least for me. I hope it reaches out to someone else. When I sent it on to my friend in Canada, I did so with a little trepidation — I was wondered she would feel that I had betrayed a trust by writing about her grief. She wrote back and thanked me — said that it was amazing how I had captured the full range of emotions which had engulfed her. She also said, she would very much like to believe in the end of the poem — which does not presume to answer, but suggests instead “Somewhere her son is sleeping. Someone is singing his song.”

March 28, 2006

Strike Two

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 3:28 pm

Thin letter two arrived today. Someone else will be filling the Emerging Lecturer position at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania.

Contigency plans are now being formed. I’m investigating running a web design business in Canada if the remaining positions I’ve applied for also end up being filled by someone else. It’s a tough market. Especially if you’re still shopping your first book. I’d like to find a way to stay in the US, but I suspect I’ll be north-side soon and fending for myself.
Still waiting to hear from Wisconsin and Louisville.

March 27, 2006

Strike One

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 9:05 pm

Ok, I didn’t get the Stegner. I’m bummed, but I’ll survive. The original post complete with pity party has taken down.
I still have a few irons in the fire — hopefully something nice will come from Wisconsin, Gettysburg, or Louisville. Wish me many fat envelopes in the near future. Well, at least one. Either that or some sort of writing/teaching related job if I have to move back to Canada.

Good luck to the rest of you — enjoy your spring break!

March 24, 2006

Home is always shifting

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 2:22 pm

My parents have made it official — the family home in Saskatchewan is up for sale.  I’m sad and happy at the same time.  I’m sad that this means a chapter of my life is over — I never will be able to return to the home I left.  But I’m happy for my parents as well, now both retired and ready to move to warmer climates closer to their grandchild.

Curious where I grew up?  Here is the listing complete with many interior and exterior photos.  Taken in winter, there is a stillness there that remains part of what I recall even now.  In summer, the flower beds bloom and the back garden and lawn grow a beautiful green.  See for yourself right here.

First Book Reviews Needed (Boxcar Poetry Review)

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 2:50 am

Boxcar Poetry Review is currently seeking reviews and responses for the following first books of poetry. If you feel like writing a review or have a specific response to a first book, please contact me by email. Feel free to query if you would like to write a review or response for anything not on the current list (this is just what’s on my shelf right now).

  1. Amirthanayagam, Indran. The Elephants of Reckoning. Hanging Loose Press, 1993
  2. Aragon, Francisco. Puerta del Sol. Bilingual Press, 2005 (free copy available)
  3. Baranow, Joan. Living Apart. Plain View Press, 1999
  4. Barnstone, Tony. Impure. University Press of Florida, 1999 (free copy available)
  5. Blevins, Adrian. The Brass Girl Brouhaha. Ausuable Press, 2003
  6. Buchsbaum, Julianne. Slowly, Slowly, Horses. Ausable Press, 2001
  7. Calvocoressi, Gabrielle. The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart. Persea Books, 2005
  8. Campbell, Erik. Arguments for Stillness. Curbstone Press, 2006
  9. Canaday, John. The Invisible World. Louisiana State University Press, 2002
  10. Columbik, Roger. A Quiet Divide. Plain View Press, 2006
  11. Craft, Kevin. Solar Prominence. Cloudbank Books, 2005
  12. de la Paz, Oliver. Names Above Houses. Southern Illinois University Press, 2001
  13. Donnelly, Patrick. The Charge. Ausable Press, 2003
  14. Fox, Sarah. Because Why. Coffee House Press, 2006
  15. Franco, Gina. The Keepsake Storm. University of Arizona Press, 2004
  16. Gambito, Sarah. Matadora. Alice James Books, 2004
  17. Guest, Paul. The Resurrection of the Body and the Ruin of the World. New Issues Press, 2003 < --reviews under way
  18. Hannah, Sarah. Longing Distance. Tupelo Press, 2004
  19. Hegnauer, Lilah. Dark Under Kiganda Stars. Ausable Press, 2005
  20. Johnson, Kimberly. Leviathan with a Hook. Persea Books, 2002
  21. Jordan, Judy. Carolina Ghost Woods. Louisiana State University Press, 2000
  22. Khanna, Vandana. Train to Agra. Southern Illinois University Press, 2001
  23. Kim, Suji Kwock. Notes from the Divided Country. Louisiana State University Press, 2003
  24. Ladin, Jay. Alternatives to History. Sheep Meadow Press, 2003 (free copy available)
  25. Lerner, Ben. The Lichtenberg Figures. Copper Canyon Press, 2004
  26. Maclay, Sarah. Whore. University of Tampa Press, 2004
  27. Marcum, Carl. Cue Lazarus. University of Arizona Press, 2001
  28. Mathias, Louise. Lark Apprentice. New Issues Press, 2004
  29. Mathys, Ted. Forge. Coffee House Press, 2005
  30. Nagami, Heather. Hostile. chax press, 2005
  31. Nezhukumatathil, Aimee. Miracle Fruit. Tupelo Press, 2003
  32. Shenoda, Matthew. Somewhere Else. Coffee House Press, 2005
  33. Sterle, Francine. Every Bird is One Bird. Tupelo Press, 2001
  34. Taylor, Sam. Body of the World. Ausable Press, 2005
  35. Turner, Brian. Here, Bullet. Alice James Books, 2005
  36. Volkman, Karen. Spar. University of Iowa Press, 2002
  37. Whalley, Karen. The Rented Violin. Ausable Press, 2003
  38. Wolpe, Sholeh. The Scar Saloon. Red Hen Press, 2004  < -- review underway
  39. Wong, Rita. Monkey Puzzle. Press Gang Publishers, 1998
  40. Yurdana, Matt. Public Gestures. University of Tampa Press, 2005

March 23, 2006

Out like a Lion

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 6:48 pm

The last tail end at least. As of today, I’m done with papers, essays, and assignments for my classes. Unfortunately, I still have a stack of short stories to grade. Cranky? Just sleep-deprived. I finished a 20-page examining how literary allusion and poetry are translated in the classic Chinese novel, The Story of the Stone (aka Dream of the Red Chamber). Not only did the paper involve a comparison of different translations of the same two passage (one allusion to Romance of the Western Chamber) and a poem written by one o the characters in the novel. Most of this was written in the last two days. Needless to say, I haven’t slept much. I think I just about ready for a nap…

March 12, 2006

More poems find a home

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 11:55 pm

Checking my email this weekend I discovered that Avatar Review has accepted three of my poems for publication. I’ll post a link when their issue is up (expected in May). Till then, I’ll just tease you with the titles: “Considering Photography,” “To the Street Musician,” and “Seeking Shelter at -50” and a few lines from one of them:

from “Seeking Shelter at -50”

Outside the thin wooden walls,
the wind-driven branches tapped
like blind men or perhaps
a prisoner in solitary
testing the depth of his world.

Post AWP – Back in Riverside

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 11:45 pm

Well, the whole AWP week has zoomed by and now I’m sitting here in Riverside trying to wrap my mind around it all.

It was great to meet up again with many of the Kundiman crew (Oliver, Sarah, Marlon, Vikas, Purvi, Patrick, and Aimee).  I also had a chance to meet some of the contributors for this first issue of Boxcar Poetry Review and took the opportunity to introduce myself in person to several of my favorite bloggers.  (It’s sad, I must’ve looked like some blogger groupee).  Great conversations, fascinating panels, and good times between sessions.  I must say that I’m looking forward to next year’s AWP.

The bookfair was arguably the largest I’ve ever attended — over 400 tables of publishers and writing programs.  I spent a good deal of time on Friday and Saturday wandering the aisles.  It seems that everyone wanted to give me review copies of first books from their presses — I’ve now amassed quite the collection and face the daunting task of locating enough reviewers to tackle them all (I’ll list the ones currently seeking reviewers in a separate post).

I’d write more, but I’m pretty exhausted right now.  Tomorrow I’ll try to discuss some of the highlights for me.

March 8, 2006

Neil & Boxcar Poetry Review @ AWP (Austin, TX)

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 7:38 pm

Just a quick note to say that I’ve made it safely here to Austin.  I’m at North Austin Plaza Hotel & Suites, about 5 miles from the conference center (late booking), which puts me out in the boondocks (well, the closest boondocks to the center).  Thankfully there’s a good SuperShuttle service which will take me to the conference for cheap ($10-13).

Pleasant conversations with editors, program directors, programmers, and bath&spa sales people through my flights.  So far it’s a good trip.  Just need to figure out what to do about dinner without a car…




It’s Alive….

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 2:36 am

Boxcar Poetry Review Issue 1 is now online.  Check it out here.

POETRY:  Patricia Bostian, Christopher Buckley, Taylor Graham, Charlton Metcalf, Karen Neuberg, Mary C. O’Malley, Stephen Roger Powers, Barbara Jane Reyes, Tyler Smith, Lita Sorensen, Steve Trebellas, and Shannon Woron.


REVIEWS:  Ed Bok Lee’s “Real Karaoke People” (reviewed by Mary Chi-Whi Kim) — more reviews coming after AWP (still waiting for some replies)

INTERVIEW:  Blas Manuel de Luna (interviewed by Eduardo C. Corral)

Next Page »