I am pleased Archipelago (Vagabond Press) was shortlisted for the 2018 Prime Minister’s awards and the Kenneth Slessor award.
I liked the judge’s report:
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, 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.
Jonathan Shaw writes: ‘The poems move beyond touristic engagement with place in other ways as well, mainly by engaging with other writers and artists associated with the place, and with its history.’ Shaw’s full review is here.