The Hermit Poet

June 23, 2007

Rewind: Scenes from Saskatchewan

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 3:15 pm

Ok — I’m way behind on posting, but hopefully these pictures will help sum things up.

Two reasons to fall in love with Saskatchewan: the sky and the land









June 8, 2007

Awkward Poetry Moment and Some Suggestions

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

Today I received an email from an online literary journal informing me that they would like to publish three of my poems. Great news, right? Except that these were three poems which had all been accepted within the last few weeks.

Now, I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong. I had followed the standard protocol — notifying them of the withdrawal of these poems immediately after receiving word of their acceptance from the other journals. My initial submissions all indicated that the included poems were under consideration elsewhere and that I would notify them in the event that they were accepted elsewhere. In all respects, it appears to me that the problem lies in their bookkeeping.

As the editor of an online journal myself (and a victim of similar situation just recently), I can sympathize with the problem of keeping the records straight when there is a backlog of submissions to deal with. A withdrawal notice can easily be lost in the midst of so many new entries. So what can be done so that this doesn’t happen?

Some possible solutions for journals:

  1. Use an email header tag (eg. [WITHDRAW] ) or email alias ( to ensure that withdrawal notices are filtered to one location for easy reference
  2. Search your inbox for any subsequent emails from an author whose work you have decided to accept to verify that there have been no withdrawal notices sent (gmail is excellent for doing this
  3. Check your inbox daily and make notes on the submissions which have had poems withdrawn. I use gmail and will forward the original submission to myself and add a note at the top indicating which poems have been withdrawn — this keeps the note connected to the same “conversation” (gmail terminology).

In any case, this situation is one of the risks of allowing simultaneous submissions. While the poet certainly has an obligation to report when poems have been accepted elsewhere, the journal also has a responsibility to read and track such notices.

On the side of prevention, I think this also reflects the need for each journal to respond in a more timely fashion when it comes to submissions they like. If they sit too long on a poem they like, it may be taken by a faster acting journal. All three journals involved are places I would be happy to have my work appear in — so it’s a shame to have to say no to one.

Road Warriors

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 8:43 am

On paper, the plan looked straight forward enough: my mother and I packed our bags and left Penticton on Monday, intending to drive directly to Calgary (7.5 hour drive) and spend the night there before heading onward to Regina. Life usually doesn’t quite as simply though — when we arrived in Kelowna (about 1 hour away) to fill up the car, I discovered I had forgotten my wallet. Oops. Suddenly I was in high school again and my mother had to pay for the gas. We circled back to Penticton, retrieved my wallet, explained to all the curious neighbors about our return (we had left at dawn initially), and then headed out again. So much for an early start.

The rest of the trip went relatively smoothly and we arrived in Calgary around 7:30 pm. We had a nice dinner with some family friends at an excellent Chinese restaurant in the area, then headed back to sleep. The next morning we were out and on the road — and somewhat relieved to be out of mountain roads and on to the wide open prairie.

I had forgotten how much I love the wide spread of sky – the open earth – and the road that continues like an arrow across the land. The colours in early summer are striking — but not as striking as they will be in late summer or early fall when harvest rolls around. We were in a rush, so did not stop to take photos — but perhaps on our return will have time.

I learned something interesting from my mother — evidently almost all the old wooden grain elevators have been taken down. Part of the landscape has changed. Now things are gathered in metal bins — no doubt safer, but not as picturesque as the vintage wood buildings that stood starkly on the horizon.

As always Regina surprises me with its growth. New malls spring up. Roads go where there was once only prairie. Homes are everywhere. We arrived in Regina at the airport just in time to pick up my aunt Rita – with 10 minutes to spare. Despite all the growth, the city remains small in some ways. One of the security guards at the airport was the roofer who redid our old home in Regina before my parents sold it.

My aunt Rita is quite the character. A globe trotter with residences in Taiwan and Toronto, she spends most of her spare time teaching ballroom dance around the world. For the next month or so, she’ll be joining us in our travels and finding some time to teach the occasional dance class on the side.

More to come on our time in Regina

June 1, 2007

Poem Up at Stirring

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 8:36 am

Just in — my poem “Elegy for Grey” is now up in the June issue of Stirring

Also in this issue:

Poems from Antonia Clark, Nancy Devine, and Willie Lin (a Boxcar poet as well),
Fiction from Carolyn Mikulencak
Artwork from T.A. Noonan