Poet. Author. Classicist.
I write poems and stories for people of all ages, often with a tinge of magic, science, or deep time.
My new collection, The Alpaca Cantos, is just out. I am amazed by the beautiful object that Pitt Street Poetry has created. (Alison Goodman called it "absolutely gorgeous".) In these days of social distancing, the launch by eminent poet Judy Johnson is online-only, beautifully presented at the Rochford Street Review. I'm humbled by Judy's words: "Beyond her facility with craft, 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. In this way the words wrap themselves around the reader, delivered with the quietly coaxing voice of a natural born storyteller."
As part of the virtual launch, feel free to see me read the first poem in the collection, "Black ice night, frogmouth".
A few more lovely words about The Alpaca Cantos:
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."
Magdalena Ball says, "Jenny Blackford’s poetry is instantly engaging and beautifully grounded. She moves in close to her subjects and with wry and often whimsically humour, providing deep insight...The animals pepper the work in entirely natural ways, blurring the lines between home and the wild world."
And Mary Soon Lee says, "This is a small, beautiful book of poetry by Jenny Blackford, one of my favorite contemporary poets. The wording is precise, articulate, with clear beautiful phrases. The poems are by turns striking, humorous, gentle, moving. I loved the compassion with which individuals, human or otherwise, are evoked."
More about The Alpaca Cantos...
I am delighted that my middle-grade fantasy adventure novel The Girl in the Mirror is now out from Eagle Books! They describe it as "a mix of time slip, ghost story and mystery". According to Geoffrey McSkimming's endorsement, "Jenny Blackford has created a time-shifting, spine-tingling winner with The Girl in the Mirror."
There are three great reviews for The Girl in the Mirror already. On The Compulsive Reader, Magdalena Ball writes, "The Girl in the Mirror is a delightful book for readers of all ages." On BuzzWords, Karen Hendriks says "This is a gripping middle grade novel that is an original and captivating read." And on ReadPlus, Elizabeth Bondar says, "Beautifully written, this novel transcends the science-fiction genre."
More about The Girl in the Mirror...
Listen to my interview with Magdalena Ball about THE GIRL IN THE MIRROR and much 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 about The Loyalty of Chickens...
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 about The Duties of a Cat
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, and Australian and international anthologies. You can find some of my poems online at Eureka Street, Backstory Journal or Strange Horizons. More about my poems...
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 and Girls on Key - and, on 16 October, at the Sydney Poetry Lounge. Ask me!
My short stories have appeared in venues including Pulp Literature, Non-Binary Review, Cosmos, local and international anthologies for kids and adults, and The School Magazine. More about my short stories...
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 story 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.