I’ve moved and travelled so much this past three years that my little black notebook has become my desk. I put everything in it—whole drafts of poems, notes on the novel, simple observations—and carry it everywhere. This is my new desk here in Vancouver. I like the dark brown wood though it’s usually covered with stacks of paper, reference books and stray notes so it’s not always visible. I keep odd things about mostly because they amuse me (the paper doll of the philosopher Nietzsche) or because I think they’re beautiful: a wood cut from Indonesia, a globe, and some jarred roses that Glenn gave me which still—years later—smell amazingly like roses-plus-berries on those rare occasions when I open the jar. The laptop is new, the dog whose photograph is on my screensaver (Cooper) is also new as are the shelves above on which we’ve put photos of my University of Edinburgh graduation and a vineyard Glenn and I cycled through in Burgundy last year. The old corkscrews and antique cameras are Glenn’s. The ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ poster I bought in England after seeing it in Sarah Water’s Guardian desk photo. I met Sarah once and quite liked her and was having a difficult time in my novel so, inspired by why she had the poster, I bought one and now dutifully use it as a reminder to just work and work (and work) away.
In Edinburgh our flat was on the Royal Mile and my desk window looked down onto a lovely medieval courtyard and onto a window where the philosopher Hume once lived and wrote. The desk and chair were awful and I typed so much I sometimes got back spasms but what a view! This fall I’ll be writer-in-residence at Memorial University in St John’s Newfoundland. I’ve sublet a seismology professor’s condo right in the city-centre and even though I’m there to write I have no idea about the desk or the view. So much moving about means a desk like this one: one that waits for me every morning along with good ole Nietzsche in his plaid pants (an odd choice really, because I’m a Heideggerean) is a luxury. I love its stability and its size (so much space on which to scatter the writerly bits!) but for now a pen and a notebook and somewhere to plug in the Mac will have to do.
Aislinn Hunter is the author of two books of poetry and two books of fiction, all of which have been shortlisted for, or have won national awards. She currently divides her time between Vancouver and Edinburgh where she is is doing her DPhil at The University of Edinburgh. In the fall 2008 she will be writer-in-residence at Memorial University in St John's Newfoundland—working away on a new book of poems.