Poet. Author. Classicist.
I write poems and stories for people of all ages, often with a tinge of magic, science, or deep time. And cats.
I still can't quite believe that my poem 'Eleven Exhibits in a Better Natural History Museum, London', published in Strange Horizons, won the Long Poem Category of the 2021 Rhysling awards, run by the SFPA.
My new junior novel Fil and Harry was released in May 2021. It's published by Armidale-based Christmas Press, just like the award-winning The Girl in the Mirror. The fantastic cover and internal illustrations are by Kristin Devine.
There's a great advance review in Books + Publishing: "Fil & Harry is a gentle novel with short, accessible chapters and some excellent vocabulary-building words for emerging readers to discover. It’s perfect for readers aged seven and up."
There are lots more review extracts on the Fil and Harry page. And there's scads of fascinating information, interviews, videos, activities pages and even Teachers' Notes on the United Publishers of Armidale site.
I am delighted and excited that my middle-grade mystery novel The Girl in the Mirror (published by Eagle Books) won the 2020 Davitt Award for Best Children's Crime Novel.
What the judges said: “Separated by more than a hundred years, and brought together through a mysterious mirror, Maddie and Clarissa ... band together to defeat a creeping evil that threatens the lives of their families.... Jenny Blackford has captured the pains of early adolescence – loneliness, fear, uncertainty – in a gripping mystery that is perfectly pitched to the middle readers who will love it.” More...
My third poetry collection, The Alpaca Cantos, came out from Pitt Street Poetry in March 2020. In these days of social distancing, the launch by eminent poet Judy Johnson was online-only, beautifully presented at the Rochford Street Review. I'm humbled by Judy's words: "What attracts me particularly is that rarer quality: the generosity of her vision combined with an ability to stand aside rather than taking centre stage, despite the often confessional first person narration."
Feel free to watch the video where I read the first poem in the collection, "Black ice night, frogmouth". It was reprinted in Best Australian Science Writing 2020.
Alison Goodman says, "Jenny Blackford's poetry creates a unique commentary on life, sometimes sweet, sometimes dark, but always with a delicate touch full of insight and emotion." And Mary Soon Lee says, "This is a small, beautiful book of poetry by Jenny Blackford, one of my favorite contemporary poets... I loved the compassion with which individuals, human or otherwise, are evoked." More...
In April 2017, Melinda Smith launched my first full-length book of poetry, The Loyalty of Chickens, from Pitt Street Poetry. Look at the cover image on the left for Gwynneth Jones' gorgeous chickens. The book is designed to be suitable for readers from eleven all the way up. Magdalena Ball called it "an utterly delightful book." Jonathan Shaw says, "One of the attractive features of this book is the way poems that are eminently suitable for children are mixed in with poems of mature sensibility, with no sense of incongruity." More...
In late 2013, Pitt Street Poetry published an illustrated pamphlet of my cat poems, The Duties of a Cat. Judy Johnson "was struck by the nuance and complexity the author managed to bring to the poems." Rhyllis Bignell on ReadPlus writes, "Jenny Blackford's poems capture the quintessential feline nature, the sensory overload, the joy of ownership that is a cat's life. She has an almost secret understanding, eloquently portrayed through her carefully chosen stanzas." More...
My poems and stories have been published in journals and anthologies including Going Down Swinging, Westerly, Strange Horizons and Cosmos as well as that wonderful 100-year-old institution The School Magazine, and Australian and international anthologies. You can find some of my poems online at Eureka Street, Backstory Journal or Strange Horizons.
I'm always excited to read my poems in public. I have been featured poet at fabulous venues including La Mama Poetica, The Dan, The Press Book Cafe, Poetry in the Pub, Girls on Key and the Sydney Poetry Lounge. Ask me!
Hadley Rille Books commissioned me to write The Priestess and the Slave, a historical novella set in 5th century BC Athens and Delphi, in 2009. Kate Forsyth called it "Completely fascinating - a vivid and evocative glimpse into the life of the past, with its terrors and joys so strange and yet so familiar." More...
My poetry prizes include first place in the New England Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Poetry 2017, the Connemara Mussel Festival Poetry Competition 2016, and the Humorous Verse section of the Henry Lawson awards in both 2014 and 2017. I won third prize in the prestigious ACU Prize for Literature 2014, and more poems were shortlisted for it in 2015, 2017 and 2019.
In November 2016, I won two prizes in the Sisters in Crime Australia Scarlet Stiletto Short Story Awards for my story "Cooking up a Murder": a mystery set in clasical Delphi, with an amateur sleuth who happens to be a Pythia of Apollo. If that makes you curious, read my blog post, or buy a copy of the Scarlet Stilettos anthology. The story was reprinted in the 2017 Award Winning Australian Writing.
I love to write for kids as well as adults. My poems and stories for kids have been published in the School Magazine, Our Home is Dirt by Sea: Australian Poetry for Australian Kids, Stories for Nine Year Olds and other wonderful places. Kids aged 11 plus should enjoy my poetry books The Loyalty of Chickens and The Duties of a Cat. And The Girl in the Mirror is a spooky time-slip adventure just for kids!
Read more about my work for kids!
Listen to my slimy poem "slithering", read by Geoffrey McSkimming on the School Magazine Youtube channel.
Listen to my spooky poem "one small advantage", read by Geoffrey McSkimming on the School Magazine Youtube channel.