Jennifer Maiden

W.H. Auden once rebuked Percy Shelley for characterising poets as ‘the unacknowledged legislators of the world’. To think this way is to confuse hard with soft power, coercion with persuasion. Poetry, as Auden famously wrote, ‘makes nothing happen’; he instead bestowed Shelley’s epithet upon ‘the secret police’. But in an age of surveillance and information warfare that has militarised the channels of everyday communication, the line between hard and soft becomes more difficult to draw. The very notion of a random or innocent signal seems laughably naïve as we are inundated by new suspicions and suspicions of news. But the state of mind in which there is always more meaning to be had is one that poetry invites us to inhabit. For Shelley, poems were ‘hieroglyphs’ and the poetic imagination an ‘imperial faculty, whose throne is curtained within the invisible nature of man’. Is the poet an agent, then, of this secretive control? Perhaps Shelley was on Auden’s side all along.

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When John Tranter reviewed Jennifer Maiden’s first collection, Tactics (1974), he noted its ‘brilliant yet difficult imagery’ and a style ‘so idiosyncratic and forceful in a sense it becomes the subject of her work’... 

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Jennifer Maiden’s first books, Tactics (1974) and The Problem of Evil (1975), introduced a fantastically complex and enquiring poetry, with strangely fragmentary assemblages of character wrought from conflict. Both books were partly inspired by television’s gory nightly footage of the Vietnam War ...

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Jill Jones reviews 'The Metronome' by Jennifer Maiden

Jill Jones
Thursday, 27 April 2017

Jennifer Maiden’s latest book, The Metronome, is essentially part of a series that could be dated to the appearance of Friendly Fire in 2005 ...

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From the cover of Jennifer Maiden's latest book (The Fox Petition, Giramondo, $24 pb, 96 pp, 9781922146946), a wood-cut fox stares the reader down. This foreign, seditious animal is the perfect emblem for Maiden's examination of the xenophobia, conformity, and general moral diminution that she sees around her. Giramondo have given Maiden the liberty of an a ...

Poem of the Week - Jennifer Maiden reads ‘Clare and Nauru’

Australian Book Review
Thursday, 28 January 2016

Our second 'Poem of the Week' for 2016 is 'Clare and Nauru' by Jennifer Maiden. ABR's Poetry Editor, Lisa Gorton, introduces Jennifer who then discusses and reads her poem.

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Jennifer Maiden’s eighteenth book of poetry bears yet another title punning on war (remember Tactics, The Problem of Evil, The Occupying Forces, The Border Loss, Acoustic Shadow, Friendly Fire). Her umbrella themes – politics, power, evil, the public and private selves, war, and the role of art – are back. The title is ...

'The Possibility of Loss' a new poem by Jennifer Maiden

Jennifer Maiden
Thursday, 26 March 2015

Obama has said that the person with whom he would most like to dine is Gandhi.


'White Cyclamen', a new poem by Jennifer Maiden

Jennifer Maiden
Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Nothing is whiter,
like clouds with the sun inside them.
Nothing is smoother,
like clouds and the moon beside them.

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Years ago when John Forbes praised
my later work, he said my Problem
of Evil was influenced by Tranter’s
Red Movie, and being younger and furiouser,
I rang Forbes and explained P. of E.

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