The nature of Sydney and the nature in Sydney, these are the foundations for much of Michael Aiken’s plain-speaking poetry, a verse that can be spare or lush as the city itself or as the city requires.
Michael Aiken’s poems are minimalist in style and expansive in scope. He has the ability to infuse a poem with menace and tenderness, often within the same line, and he does so with a quiet yet potent confidence.
Sacred kingfisher in a dead gum
beats a butterfly to pieces
These poems reveal a fierce ability to take risks with shape and form, image and breath. Here is a poet prepared to look under the skin of common ground and to offer us amazement. — Anthony Lawrence
Aiken has carved out his own patch of ground to observe and reflect upon … the work … gets increasingly stronger as the pages get turned. The ‘Sydney’ sequence … is a great achievement. This book is held together by the recurrent trope of ‘the security man’, constantly vigilant, alert to all that passes, finding potential threat in the fragments (detritus) of city existence, and yet open to glimpses of beauty and wonder which occur: so many unexpected epiphanies. The natural world and its law-of-the-jungle amorality is a constant point of reference; a reminder of how thin a veneer civilisation really is. — John A Scott