November 29th, 2017: Neil Aitken

Neil!Neil Aitken is the author of two books of poetry, The Lost Country of Sight (Anhinga 2008), which won the Philip Levine Prize, and Babbage’s Dream (Sundress 2017), as well as a chapbook of poetry, Leviathan (Hyacinth Girl Press 2016). He is the founding editor of Boxcar Poetry Review and his own poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, American Literary Review, The Collagist, Crab Orchard Review, Ninth Letter, Southern Poetry Review, and many other literary journals.

Born in Vancouver, BC, Neil grew up in Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, and various parts of western United States and Canada. His first book explores the themes of home, exile, and return through the lens of memory and forgetting. The poems in his second book draw heavily on the history of the computer, the life of 19th-century mathematician Charles Babbage, various AIs from film and literature, the lyric nature of programming language, and his own experiences as a computer programmer. These topics also figure prominently in both the creative and critical parts of his dissertation on 19th-century literary and popular representations of artificial intelligence.

Neil holds a PhD in Literature & Creative Writing from the University of Southern California and an MFA in Creative Writing from UC Riverside, as well as a BS in Computer Science with Mathematics minor from Brigham Young University. He has collaborated with a number of talented music composers, including Juhi Bansal, Brandon Scott Rumsey, Jeffrey Parola, and Daniel Gall.

As a Chinese-English translator, Neil has worked with poet-translator Ming Di to translate The Book of Cranes: Selected Poems of Zang Di(Vagabond 2015) as well as many of Ming Di’s own first selected poems, which were published as The River Merchant’s Wife. His co-translations of Jiang Hao, Jiang Li, Jiang Tao, Lü De’an, Lü Yue, Sun Wenbo, and Zang Di are also prominently featured in New Cathay: Contemporary Chinese Poetry, 1990-2012 (Tupelo 2013). He was awarded the DJS Translation Prize in 2011 and serves as a contributing editor and board member of Poetry East West.