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Paperback, 21 x 14.8 cm
Published February 2022
ISBN 9781925818932


Adam Aitken

The latest collection from the winner of the 2021 Patrick White Literary Award.

The title of this collection, Revenants, suggests spirits and ghosts who return to the human world through dream and art, not to haunt it, but to remind the living that the present and the past are intertwined. At the heart of the collection is a series of poems about the poet’s father, a Melbournian who travelled and worked in Asia as a young man, who married the poet’s mother in Bangkok, and whose life and death are commemorated here. The poems have settings in Asia, Australia, Hawai’i, and France, which has become the author’s second home. They reflect on the legacy of colonialism, not as theory, but as inherited experience. In them the poet himself may be thought of as a revenant, sharing his awareness of secret histories and local knowledge, stories of migration, the vestiges of forgotten people and places.

SHORTLISTED: NSW Premier’s Literary Awards – Poetry 2023

A mesmerising collection of wistful, atmospheric poems that speak of returnings and revisitations, of the impossible desire to embody and inhabit the past…Aitken questions what it means to be haunted, and seamlessly juxtaposes the prosaic with the poetic, at times self-consciously subverting the artistic impulse with wry humour.
NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, judges’ comments

The reader is drawn into inimitable palimpsests of hybrid lives and texts by Aitken’s weaving of droll sentiment, unsentimental political eye, and tender observations of passing humanity and nature.Shirley Geok-lin Lim, Commonwealth Poetry Prize winner

No other Australian poet captures as rivetingly the ‘equatorial tang’ of South-East Asian experience as refracted through European colonialism. A dazzling, invigorating book.Jaya Savige

One of Aitken’s great skills is the weaving of irony into the lyrical moment — often moments of ‘beauty’ overgrown with scepticism, a way of self-critiquing (as a tourist and not a tourist) but also dismantling the egregious…his irony is evasive and mobile and is strongly part of his positioning and repositioning himself in the slippages of family, ‘home’, place and ‘world’.
John Kinsella, Sydney Review of Books

Both immediate and elusive…Revenants travels across borders, pinpoints moments of recognition in liminal spaces, within the unsettled resonance of language and home.
Jennifer Mackenzie, Cordite

Revenants is a beautiful collection, rich with allusion, and perfectly comfortable in the liminal spaces between the living and the dead, the modern and the ancient, the literary and the commonplace.  
Magdalena Ball, Compulsive Reader

About the Author

Adam Aitken

Adam Aitken was born in London and lives in Sydney. He spent his early childhood in Thailand and Malaysia. He has been a recipient of the Australia Council Paris Studio Residency, and was Visiting Distinguished Professor at the University of Hawai’i Manoa. His poetry book Archipelago was shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Award and the Prime Minister’s Literature Prize in 2018. He received the Patrick White Award in 2021. His latest book is Revenants.

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The poet’s restraint, craft, and humility ensure that those who travel with him are rarely unrewarded.

Australian Book Review

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