The Hermit Poet

May 28, 2007

On the Road

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 10:50 am

I’m heading out — the day is cool and overcast, perfect British Columbia weather. The car is packed — I made one last trip to the storage unit to make room for a couple last things — and other than 2 errands in town (banking and gas), I’m done.

Next time I come through, I’ll be towing a trailer and heading to California.

Adios folks — the road calls. I’ll be online again tonight.

The Last Few Days…

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 9:15 am

The last few days have been wonderful — in fact, if the entire past year had been so wonderful, I’d probably be having a harder time leaving Vancouver. It seems that only as you prepare to leave a place does it suddenly seem to come alive and reveal itself and its joys.

Over the past week I’ve had the opportunity to:

  • attend Marivaux’s “Triumph of Love” at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre with a friend (entertaining overall, but some performances could have been stronger)
  • have a belated birthday party for myself with a group of close writer friends from the community — great intellectual conversations, good stories, and a lot of laughter
  • run a poetry workshop on “mapping your mythic landscape” — a more psychological / deep critical look at what images and tendencies show up in your poetry and what significance they might hold. Major breakthroughs and epiphanies for almost everyone. We all learned something about ourselves.
  • attend a poetry reading given by five well-known Vancouver poets who read poems from their favorite “dead poet” — heard from David Zieroth (reading John Newlove); Fiona Lam (reading Bronwen Wallace); Harvey De Roo (reading George Johnston); Cathy Stonehouse (reading W.S. Graham); and Russell Thornton (reading Irving Layton)
  • hangout with Harvey De Roo and Denise (a local writer friend) and chat for a couple hours about translation, opera, and poetry
  • get rid of all my furniture (huge relief) and sleep on the floor in the front room with the shades up on the big window looking out over the valley and the bridge. Gorgeous view at night. Never had a chance to do this before because all my furniture was in the way

Now my things are almost all packed away in the car and I’m doing some final bits of cleaning and tidying. I hope to be on the road by 11 am. It’s shaping up to be a beautiful day.

I think I might make an extra trip back in mid-July to visit a few writing friends for a final dinner. The workshop was such a success that they’ve expressed interest in bringing me up in the summer to run a longer series at a retreat. I’m flattered, but intrigued — it sounds like a lot of fun.

May 18, 2007

A Brief Appearance by My Nephew

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 4:30 pm

Arguably one of the best looking kids in the world — my nephew, Thomas Dylan Dykes — making an appearance at the Victoria Library.

Nephew Thomas at the Library

May 16, 2007

Another Pleasant Bit of News

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 2:14 pm

In other news, I’ve been offered and have gratefully accepted a College Graduate Merit Award from the Department of English at USC. The paperwork arrived today and I’ve already sent back my acceptance.

The fellowship offer really translates as an offer of 2 years of fellowship and 3 years as a graduate assistant for a total of 5 years of full graduate support.

Which really means — I don’t need to teach comp my first year and can focus on my writing and studies, and I’ll get another year of fellowship when I’m done with the coursework (so 3rd year will be a fellowship year most likely).

I don’t mind teaching comp, but it is nice to have time to prepare for the screening exams at the end of the first year. Especially since I feel woefully under-prepared right now (somehow my BS Computer Science with Math minor probably won’t help me here). And it looks snazzy on the CV for people who care about CV-snazziness.

All this makes me even more excited to start — I’m ready to jump right in. But we’ve still got a few months in between — and I’ve still got to find an apartment.

May 15, 2007

Boxcar Poetry Review – Issue 8 is Up

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 2:58 pm

The new issue is up — come and get it! Great work as always — and from all over the world.

Read the issue here

Here’s what’s in store:


  • Jeffrey Alfier: “Last Words to an Old Miner Leaving Albuquerque”
  • Jon Ballard: “Trees Make You Think of Other Things”
  • Pris Campbell: “Undertow”
  • Heather Green: “Valentine’s Day at the SF MOMA, Again”
  • Rachel Eliza Griffiths: “Wake for Memory”
  • Jee Leong Koh: “Hungry Ghosts”
  • Ted McCarthy: “Lines with a Latin Dictionary”
  • Rhonda Mino-Melanson: “Memories and Condolences”
  • Tolu Ogunlesi: “On Reading ‘A Wedding in Hell’ by Charles Simic”
  • Doug Ramspeck: “Oneiromancy”
  • Sam Rasnake: “This is not my testament”
  • Yun Wang: “Space Journal: Day Dreams”
  • Joe Wilkins: “North Carolina By Greyhound: First Christmas After the Funeral”


  • “Obsession, Grace, and the Second Book: An Interview with Oliver de la Paz” ~ Diana Park


  • “Sally Ball’s Annus Mirabilis – Logical Affect” ~ Tatiana Forero Puerta


  • Arthur Westover: “Field” and “Walkway”

This issue is dedicated to my father Kenneth George Aitken (1947-2007), who passed away last month on April 21 from ALS. Although most of you never met him, he was a staunch supporter of this journal and of literature in general, and provided much encouragement at the onset of this endeavor. In fact, I wouldn’t be here without his love for poetry — as a young man he wooed my mother with poetry — evidently successfully…

May 10, 2007

Rock & Sling – Three More Poems

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 11:33 am

I’ve just received word that three more poems have found a home — this time in Rock & Sling

Look forward to reading the following poems in an upcoming issue of Rock & Sling:

“My Father as Landscape”
“How We Are Saved”

“My Father as Landscape” and “Halfway” were written 10 days before my father’s death. “How We Are Saved” was written 10 days after his death. I’m happy that these poems which have meant a lot to me — and to my father — have found a suitable journal to carry them out into the world.

May 8, 2007

Moving Poetry and a Reading Tonight

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

I’ve spent the last few days packing books and moving them to a storage unit. I finished packing box #14 earlier today. Even though I’m mostly done with packing the poetry, even the non-poetry boxes have poetry in them — I’m using old drafts of poems as packing material so that the books don’t shift. So really, every box has some poetry in it.

Tonight I’ll take a break from packing and sorting things to head over to the Clearbrook Library in Abbotsford to give a reading. I’m co-featuring with Bonnie & Sita of Pandora’s Collective — the two brains and movers behind a lot of the poetry events in Vancouver. I’m excited to read again — and excited to read with them. They have been very supportive of me and helped me find my bearings in Vancouver when I first arrived almost a year ago. Now, as I’m preparing to leave, I’m happy that I will have a chance to read with them this last time.

I had originally thought to put together a chapbook for tonight, but there’s simply no time. I’m quite swamped with packing. The reading is at 6:30 pm, but since it’s in Abbotsford, I’ll have to head over there early (about a 45 minute drive). There’ll be traffic as well, so it might even be a longer than usual drive.

May 4, 2007

Star Wars Day — May the Fourth Be With You

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 1:05 pm

Nuff said. Back to cleaning and packing.

In other news:
After doing the math, I’ve figured it’s simpler and cheaper to take a trailer of books down than ship them through the mail. Time to get a trailer tow hitch installed for the car.

Making Room to Show

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 11:14 am

My landlord just informed me that he would like to show my place tonight to potential tenants — I said it would be ok, but still it’s going to be a headache. Right now it’s a disaster site — books and boxes everywhere in the front room, clothing everywhere in the bedroom, and lots of loose papers floating around. And I’m out of cleaning supplies. But hey, I need a good kick to keep up with the schedule if I’m going to be able to move out on time.

Still to do:

  • post furniture pics to Craigslist
  • buy cleaning supplies
  • drop off more clothes to Salvation Army
  • check with post office on how much sending my books through the mail will actually cost me

I’d actually rather be reading submissions for Boxcar Poetry Review (and I did manage to fit that in last night and this morning), but I’ll have to leave the fun stuff for later.

May 1, 2007

Neil Aitken Relaunch

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 2:53 pm

I’ve finished the redesign of my website — evidently working on websites is a little known step in the process of dealing with major life changes like loss and relocation.

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