Poet. Author. Classicist.
I write poems and stories for people of all ages, often with a tinge of magic, science, or deep time.
I am delighted that Eagle Books, an imprint of Sophie Masson's Christmas Press, will publish my middle-grade fantasy adventure novel The Girl in the Mirror in 2019.
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." Geoffrey McSkimming called it "a beautiful volume ... from one of my favourite poets." 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. In The duties of a cat Jenny draws the audience in, as they identify with the contrary nature of the beast." More...
My poems have been published in journals and magazines including Going Down Swinging, Westerly, Australian Poetry Journal, The Pedestal Magazine, Strange Horizons and Gargouille as well as that wonderful 100-year-old institution The School Magazine. They have appeared in anthologies including Best Australian Fantasy and Horror Vol 1 (ed. Talie Helene and Liz Grzyb), The Stars Like Sand (ed. Tim Jones and PS Cottier), A Slow Combusting Hymn (ed. Kit Kelen and Jean Kent), Futuredaze (ed. Erin Underwood), Fae Visions of the Mediterranean (eds. Valeria Vitale and Djibril al-Ayad), and Poetry & Place (eds. Ashley Capes & Brooke Linford). More...
Find some of my poems online at Eureka Street, Backstory Journal or Strange Horizons.
My short stories have appeared in Cosmos, Penumbra, Aurealis, local and international anthologies for kids and adults, and The School Magazine. More...
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 and 2017. Read my poem "All the dead people", which received a Special Commendation in the WB Yeats Poetry Prize for Australia in May 2018.
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.
Read more about my work for kids!
THE LOYALTY OF CHICKENS
Melinda Smith launched my first full-length book of poetry in April 2017, The Loyalty of Chickens, from Piitt Street Poetry. Gwynneth Jones' gorgeous chickens glorify the front cover. We've carefully designed the collection to be suitable for readers from eleven to eleventy-one. Magdalena Ball says, "It’s rare to come across a collection that is suitable for such a broad age range, and yet Blackford... manages it perfectly... The Loyalty of Chickens is 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. The lovely imagistic ‘sweeping’ (‘the wind is sweeping / the tide out to sea’), is followed by ‘South Steyne’, which recalls childhood events from an amused adult perspective (‘The South Steyne ferry was heaven / for me, though doubtless hell for parents’), and then by ‘Some slight redemption’, a meditation on Coventry Cathedral as a monument ‘not to war / nor even peace / but to forgiveness’."
Read more about THE LOYALTY OF CHICKENS.
THE DUTIES OF A CAT
In late 2013, award-winning Sydney imprint Pitt Street Poetry published a pamphlet of my cat poems, The Duties of a Cat, with seven glorious drawings from Michael Robson. Much-awarded poet Judy Johnson said, "This is a lovely, complex and thought provoking little poetry book about the inner and outer lives of cats. I was struck by the nuance and complexity the author managed to bring to the poems–how they opened up from their particular descriptions of animal behaviour into the larger emotional world we all share. There is wonderful sound play in the poems which make them a joy to the inner ear as well as the eye. ... High quality cream paper and exquisite drawings by Michael Robson seem to further deepen and illuminate the text. Highly Recommended." Nebula-winner Eileen Gunn said, "What a lovely chapbook! Enchanting drawings and enchanting poems. A must-have book for people who must have cats!"
Read more about THE DUTIES OF A CAT.
My short stories for adults have appeared in magazines and journals including Cosmos, Penumbra and Aurealis, as well as in anthologies such as Jack Dann's Australian showcase anthology Dreaming Again. They have been published recently in Helios Quarterly, A Quiet Shelter There (a project to raise funds for an animal shelter), (ed. Gerri Leen), and Hear Me Roar!, (ed. Liz Grzyb). (Read an excellent review by Juliet Marillier.) Many of them have earned Honourable Mentions from Gardner Dozois, Ellen Datlow and Rich Horton.
Read more about my stories.
THE PRIESTESS AND THE SLAVE
Archaeology buff Eric T. Reynolds commissioned me to write The Priestess and the Slave, a historical novella set in fifth century BC Athens and Delphi, as the first in an innovative Hadley Rille Books series of archaeologically-accurate short novels about the daily lives of ancient people coping with real historical crises. It was published in April 2009.
The amazing Kate Forsyth wrote, "Completely fascinating - a vivid and evocative glimpse into the life of the past, with its terrors and joys so strange and yet so familiar," and the astonishing Alison Goodman said, "A compelling blend of vivid storytelling and meticulous research. Fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable."
Legendary sf feminist Pamela Sargent wrote on Goodreads, "This elegant short novel…tells the interwoven stories of Thrasulla, a Pythia who is one of the oracles of Apollo, and Harmonia, a slave in an Athenian household. The author, with degrees in Classics, brings authority and detail to this story of those so often neglected by history, those without power. Women in classical Greece led especially limited lives, but Jenny Blackford brings both suspense and compassion to Harmonia's tale, which is restricted entirely to her master's house, and to Thrasulla's, when she must confront the madness in a Spartan king and the greed of a sister priestess."
Read more about THE PRIESTESS AND THE SLAVE.