Tonto’s Revenge

Adam Aitken is a Thai-Australian living in Sydney, where he teaches Creative Writing. He was born in London and as a young child he was schooled in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. He has lived, worked and travelled widely through Asia and Europe, and was recently Distinguished Visiting Writer at the University of Hawai?i at M?noa. His poetry has appeared in Poetry, Tinfish, Drunken Boat and Jacket. This is his fifth collection of poems.


Tonto’s Revenge
By Adam Aitken • May 2011 • $3
Design by Eric Butler

Tonto’s Revenge, composed of poems written by Adam Aitken during his term as Distinguished Visiting Writer at the University of Hawai?i at M?noa, is something of a Thai-Australian version of Ed Dorn’s Gunslinger. The poet, masquerading sometimes as Tonto, sometimes as Charlie Chan, meets a Sheriff; they face off over everything from tourism to nostalgia to departmental hiring. Along the way, the poet meets the Rabbit Lady of Honolulu, laments the death of Danno (James MacArthur of the original Hawai?i Five-0), and gathers in many of Honolulu’s voices off buses and from the city parks burgeoning with homeless persons. “You want to shout Fuck Tourism,” Aitken writes, “but that would be nostalgic.”

from “The Day Danno Died”:

The day Danno died
some old senators
and heroes of Pearl Harbour
last surviving ones
cried. They knew Danno
had done a lot for these islands.

The day Danno died
someone’s father entered
Harry’s Music Store
and bought his son
a Ukelele.

At Smiley’s Nails
someone mentioned in passing
that Danno had died.

Somehow, at Jimmy’s
Television Sales & Services
the owner thought
TV will never be the same,
now that Danno’s died.


Read more about Aitken’s work on the TinFish Editor’s Blog.

Read Susan Schultz’s interview with Aitken.

Read Schultz’s commentary on Aitken’s Cambodia poems in Jacket2.

Read Michelle Cahill’s review of Aitken’s Eighth Habitation (Giramondo, 2009) in Jacket.

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