About the book
His most personal poetry to date, Adam Aitken's Archipelago is entirely preoccupied with the experience of living and marrying in France. Much of it written while resident at the Keesing Studio in Paris, and then in the south during a seriously cold spring, many of the poems deal with art, romantic and modernist writing and writers, and concepts of nostalgia, spirituality, revolution and resistance.
About the author
Adam Aitken is a London-born teacher and writer who migrated to Sydney after spending his early childhood in Thailand and Malaysia. He has published five full length collections of poetry. In One House, was nominated in The Australian as one of the best poetry collections for 1996; Romeo and Juliet in Subtitles was shortlisted for the John Bray South Australian Literary Festival Award, and runner-up for The Age Book of the year poetry prize; Eighth Habitation shortlisted for the same award in 2010, and most recently Archipelago, shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Award for 2018.
In Adam Aitken's Archipelago, the poet is 'alive and speeding' in his partner's 'tiny French car' through the South of France. 'If you could buy the wind and store it forever,' he enthuses, 'you would'. Archipelago is a love poem not only to France—its light, food, poets, and aesthetics—but also to Nella, the poet's partner, whom he wishes to marry 'again and again'. Aitken is intent on constructing his own textual landscape: 'Paris, in my version,' he writes, is 'spireless' with 'more rotundas'. Likewise, his version of southern France is punctuated less by lavender and more by 'rusted cans of tuna, some local brand' and 'crushed plastic shot-gun cartridges'. Notre-Dame is a 'stone machine of anti-gravity' and the Seine as 'a limpid green gutter / in which the stars will shine', but these images only compel Aitken to delve deeper into bigger issues, often surprising himself along the way. Archipelago is a striking collection that finds Aitken at his splendid best.