Neil Aitken is the author of two books of poetry, Babbage’s Dream, a semi-finalist for the Anthony Hecht Prize, and The Lost Country of Sight, winner of the 2007 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry. His chapbook, Leviathan, won the 2017 Elgin Prize for Science Fiction Poetry. Of Chinese, Scottish, and English descent, Neil was born in Vancouver, BC, and grew up in Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, and various parts of the western United States and Canada before moving to the United States to pursue an undergraduate degree in computer science. He holds both a multi-genre MFA in Creative Writing from the University of California, Riverside and a PhD in Literature & Creative Writing from the University of Southern California. He is the founding editor of Boxcar Poetry Review, curator of Have Book Will Travel, and co-director of De-Canon. His own poems have appeared in The Adroit Journal, American Literary Review, The Collagist, Crab Orchard Review, Ninth Letter, Southern Poetry Review, and elsewhere.
In addition to writing poetry, Neil also works on literary translations of contemporary Chinese poetry and was awarded the 2011 DJS Translation Prize for his work. He has also written a libretto for a short opera produced by LA Opera and is working on Mothertongue, a longer libretto for a full-length opera with a planned 2026 debut. Other pursuits include creating literary podcasts, YouTube content, interactive fiction games, and content for the tabletop roleplaying game community.
In 2019, he moved back to Canada and lived in Regina, Saskatchewan (2019-2023), where he served as the Virtual Writer-in-Residence for the Saskatchewan Writers' Guild in 2020, and as the 2021-2022 Writer-in-Residence for the Regina Public Library. He now serves as the International Regional Chair for Kundiman (www.kundiman.org). He moved to Vancouver, BC in 2023 and is presently pursuing a Master's in Library and Information Science at UBC.