The Hermit Poet

October 18, 2007

Breaking Unintended Silence

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 12:19 am

I’m back — it’s been a busy few weeks — right now we’re in the mid-term season at USC. But since we’re grad students, we don’t have mid-terms, just assignments, projects, and presentations. All of which have been distracting me from blogging on a more regular schedule.

A few news items:

  1. Finished working on a website for fellow poet & friend Joseph O. Legaspi. You can check it out at His first book, Imago, just came out in the bookstores this week
  2. Gave a presentation in my Renaissance Lit class on Witchcraft in Macbeth — really a look at the role and function of witches (as well as how “witch” is constructed in the play). We referred back to the previous week’s readings of King James’ Demonologie and Reginald Scot’s The Discoverie of Witchcraft, as well as comparing elements with Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus. Also made use of Keith Thomas’ excellent overview of the period, Religion and the Decline of Magic. I was particularly interested in how the language of witchcraft finds its way into the descriptions and portrayals of many of the characters. On closer examination, it seems the Wyrd Sisters are a bit of a ruse — the real witches might well be Lady Macbeth, Macbeth, and Macduff.
  3. Wrote a new poem Tuesday morning for the Babbage manuscript (which actually may be going through a name change — I’m now thinking that it should be a bit more inclusive and not so fixated on Babbage as a figure). In any case, the new poem is “array” and joins “recursion”, “enumeration”, and “copy” as the latest additions to the project.
  4. Sent out poetry submissions to another 5 journals. Slowly getting back into the swing of things. Also need to get more manuscript packets together to send out to the presses & contests at the end of the month.

I’m also starting my reading and research for a paper on Jean-Luc Godard’s Alphaville (1965). Part of my reading will include Paul Eluard’s The Capital of Pain — a text referred to in the film, but supposedly the passages read from the book in the film, aren’t actually Eluard’s poetry — something made up instead by Godard. Anyway, I’m interested in getting to the root of the issue as well as addressing other issues within the film text.

Right now taking a break. Need to get back to reading for my Lit Crit theory class. We’ve got Claude Levi-Strauss and friends this week.

October 3, 2007

Circle and Stone

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 7:25 pm

Today my father would have turned 60.

I was thinking of him this morning as I sat on my bed and read Macbeth again in the Kittredge edition of Shakespeare he had left me. His notes were in the margins — not many, just a comment or two on irony, some arrows pointing back to characters referred to obliquely. Just enough to know that he’d passed this way before, thinking and pondering the same problems of free will and fate. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine him younger than me, puzzling his way through this text as an undergraduate.

I should be writing a paper right now, but I’m stalling.

I’m thinking of this moment. I’m thinking of kites in the skies. Of the strings which tether them. Of the birds they mimic. I’m thinking of the impossible blue of summer. Of the world of childhood. Of trees. Of the wind which sweeps in unexpected and lifts a thin frame upward and almost out of sight. I’m thinking of my father. The hundreds of letters he sent me wherever I went, whatever the circumstance. I’m thinking of the circumference of gratitude, of the borrowed garb of beauty. How language is a city of words. How each letter is a letter. Of the joy of simple communication, the rough order of delight — how it comes unexpected, silent, comforting. How an arm we do not expect embraces us with a fire and a love for the world and for the world to come.

Here is a circle. Here is a stone.
Here is my father at 60, on the other shore,
reading by the river. The light is good here,
the light is good. He can speak again.
This too is good.

Happy birthday Dad.