The Hermit Poet

August 23, 2007

Calls for Celebration

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 10:36 am

A number good things to report:

1. Recently learned my friend and fellow Kundiman alumnus, Jee Leong Koh, will be included in the upcoming Best New Poets anthology. Congratulations Jee Leong!

2. Finished reading Writing Machines by N. Katherine Hayles — a more detailed discussion of its high points to follow shortly.

3. My internet connection is finally fixed after another 60 hour outage. Hurray.

August 18, 2007

Walking Before Running

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 9:39 am

This past week I’ve started walking 2 miles each morning on the treadmill. Since I’m already a bit of a speedwalker, I’m currently using the 4 miles/hour setting — which is speedy, but not my top speed. It is however a good speed for walking longer periods of time.

Classes start in another week, meanwhile my roommate and other PhD students who are teaching this year are neck-deep in teaching tutorial homework (yep, they get homework and reading for 2 weeks before classes start). I’m spending this time ordering my textbooks (done), wandering around Koreatown looking for thrift shops (surprisingly, there really aren’t many), and visiting with old friends. So far it’s been a pleasant break — I’ve even got a welcome back barbecue to attend on Sunday with an old programmer friend of mine.

Last night I slipped over to Santa Monica and attended the Rapp Saloon open reading. It was a small intimate reading (quite unlike a few years ago when the room was packed) — but the readers and the feature were excellent. Mani Suri was hosting, so it was good to catch up with him as well. I also had a nice chat with the poets afterward at the Interactive Cafe – a traditional hangout spot for that reading. The sandwiches were as expensive as I remembered them — so this time I opted for a ham-n-cheese croissant — a more economical solution, just as tasty.

Today already promises to be a full one — I’m planning a trip over to Glendale to scout out one of the thrift stores, maybe a couple garage sales, and definitely IKEA (we need end tables and another lamp). My roommate Suraj (or “Shank” as another poet has renamed him) will likely tag along. I don’t think he’s been anywhere in LA so far other than the airport, campus, and Koreatown.

In other news, it’s the Tofu Festival in Little Tokyo today. Part of me wants to check that out as well — we shall see if it works out. Tonight we (the incoming Creative Writing contingent of the PhD) are having a get together to celebrate the arrival of the last of us (Josh just rolled into town last night after 6 straight days of driving). Somewhere along the way he had stopped in a small town and won a lumberjack competition (bizarre).

August 14, 2007

Boxcar Coming to AWP 2008 in NYC

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 12:06 pm

It’s official — I’ve put the order in for a table for Boxcar Poetry Review at AWP in NYC. Come by our table in January and check us out!

Poem forthcoming in Barn Owl Review

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 10:57 am

In the course of my journey down, I received an email from the folks at Barn Owl Review letting me know that they will be publishing my poem, “Traveling Through the Prairies, I Think of My Father’s Voice.” I’m very excited to be part of the inaugural issue and look forward to seeing it and the rest of the poets at AWP in NYC.

Settling In

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 10:53 am

After the transcontinental journey, the 2-person unloading of my truck-o-books-n-stuff, and the various shopping sprees required to restock shelves and make a place habitable, I am now settling in.

At this point my sister has flown back to Canada and returned to work and family. My roommate arrived on Aug 5 and has been setting up camp in his room (almost literally — he’s living out of his suitcases and sleeps on an air mattress). Over the past week we’ve both been to campus a fair bit to take care of international student requirements and departmental orientation. I finished registering for my classes this morning, so I can finally say that I’m officially a PhD student at USC.

I’ve unpacked 80% of my books, predictably running out of shelf space early. I could add another bookcase, but worry that my room will start to feel too cluttered. The important thing is that my poetry books are all unpacked and shelved.

For some reason I never feel settled until the poetry is unpacked and on the shelves — there’s a comfort there — a sense of things in their proper place. Now, sitting in my desk chair surveying the room, I can see my materials around me — and in that context, something good can happen. I’m hoping for clarity and insight. Good poetry. Words. The kind that stun and overwhelm. Enter muse. Set the page aflame.