Adam Aitken's childhood was spent in Thailand and Malaysia as the son of a Thai mother and an Anglo-Australian father. After graduating from Sydney University in 1982, he co-edited the garage literary journal P76, then returned to Thailand with the intention of immersing himself in the culture and language of his relatives. This experience resulted in the collection of poetry Letter To Marco Polo (1985). He has also reviewed literary works and frequently performed his work at festivals in Australia and overseas. He joined the Poet's Union in 1985 and also served as associate poetry editor for Heat. His work was read on Radio 2RSR in 1984 and he read at the Adelaide Writers Festival in 1982 and at 'Writers in the Park', Harold Park Hotel, Sydney, in 1986.
Aitken was the recipient of a Varuna Writers Residency in 1995 and his second poetry collection, In One House, was chosen three times as Best Book of 1996 in the review pages of The Australian and the Sydney Morning Herald. He was also a recipient of an Asialink writers residency for Rimbun Dahan, Malaysia (1998). For five weeks in 1999 Aitken was Visiting Scholar and Creative Writing Tutor in poetry and poetics in the Department of English and European Languages, University of Tasmania. Aitken's poetry and short fiction have been published widely in anthologies and literary journals.
When Adam Aitkens parents first met his father, a white Australian, had been posted to Bangkok by the advertising company her worked for. Aitken's mother was a university graduate from southern Thailand. In his quest to understand the people they were - from before he was born through to their eventual separation - Aitkens explores letters and photographs dating back more than 50 years. One Hundred Letters Home is also an account of his attempt to search for his Thai identity during a visit to the country in his early-twenties.
"Adam Aitken’s evocative memoir probes the reasons his father married his mother, an ‘Asian woman’, by researching family history, experimenting with Plots A, B, and C, and intertextual references to Christopher Koch’s 1995 novel Highways to a War, Graham Greene’s The Quiet American, and Marcel Proust’s ‘Swann’s Way’ translated into Thai by his uncle. He tests the construction of his hybridity, the notion of his Asian ‘face’ and where it might be welcome, and where and with whom a trans-Asian citizen belongs' (Gay Lynch, Transnational Literature (ctd. Vagabond Press).
Eighth Habitation2009selected work poetry Eighth Habitation takes its name from the Buddhist notion of purgatory, a mystic realm where the meaning of human lives are judged. The poems inhabit a range of landscapes and perspectives, in Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand and China, with an empathy and understanding that suggests a consciousness imbued with an Asian sensibility. Blending the cosmopolitan, the traditional and the unexpected, in their accumulation of detail they register the dignity and resilience of a world recovering from personal tragedy and the trauma of history. -- Publisher's blurb