POETRY BOOKS BY JOHN JENKINS
Updated Feb 2022:
New! My 2022 poetry collection, The Sky Inside Us, has just been published by Ginninderra. Its 108 pages contains new and previously unpublished poems – many written (almost) yesterday. That said, a sparkling sprinkle date back to the 1960s and 1970s.
Here is an extract from the back page blurb: "In his eleventh poetry collection, John Jenkins displays a boldness and creative variety, across a wide sweep of subject matter, which should hold great appeal to readers... (as he) takes us on a rich and engaging journey, into the heart of modern Australian poetry."
(This volume also contains a wining poem from my local Shire of Nillumbik 2021 'Age-on-the-Page' Poetry Challenge, 'Independence Category'. See: https://www.nillumbik.vic.gov.au/Community/Older-people/Projects/Age-on-the-Page-poetry-challenge.)
Early days, but I will post links to reviews of The Sky Inside Us as they appear.
I am one of 35 verse novelists from Australia and Aotearoa-New Zealand interviewed by Linda Weste in her comprehensive, wide-ranging and inclusive book The Verse Novel Australian & New Zealand, from Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2022.
Here, Linda Weste.... "explores the uniqueness of storytelling through poetry and the genre of the verse novel".
And Weste also asks some pertinent questions about my own A Break in the Weather, pub. Modern Writing Press 2003, and its back-then ground-breaking subject matter of environmental catastrophe and climate change. (Scroll down below for more details on this earlier book of mine, plus a pdf download.)
P O E M S F A R A N D W I D E Now published!
Australian literary publisher Puncher & Wattmann has published my 2019 collection of poems, Poems Far and Wide.
Poems Far and Wide is now available through all good bookshops.
It is distributed nationally by New South Books:
The most recent review of this collection is by Devika Brendon on Rochford Street Review: https://rochfordstreetreview.com/2020/11/24/the-idea-of-a-chosen-plenitude-poems-far-and-wide-by-john-jenkins-reviewed-by-devika-brendon/
The terrific launch speech by Alex Skovron was also on Rochford Street Review: https://rochfordstreetreview.com/2019/10/01/delightfully-eclectic-alex-skovron-launches-poems-far-and-wide-by-john-jenkins/
And there is a review by Martin Duwell on his Australian Poetry Review website: http://www.australianpoetryreview.com.au/2019/10/john-jenkins-poems-far-wide/
Plus review by Jo French on page 26 of local paper, The Warrandyte Diary: http://warrandytediary.com.au/february-2020/ Or, more directly, click here: https://warrandytediary.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/FEBRUARY-2020-WEB-final.pdf
And here's a link to Readings Bookshops, Melbourne: https://www.readings.com.au/products/27273259/poems-far-and-wide
And another to Dymocks, Melbourne: https://www.dymocks.com.au/book/poems-far-and-wide-by-john-jenkins-9781925780123
Without being too cocky I believe this is a substantial collection, which includes many poems that have been previously published, anthologised, or have won - or shortlisted in - local and international competitions.
"This very lively collection contains a wide sweep of poems, many of them prize-winning, taking readers on a remarkable journey. Some look to the past, others to the future, but all are of their time: the reverberating now. The tone is contemporary and bold, while the poet’s sensibility tends to favour an eclectic inclusiveness. Uniformly, this wide-ranging and poetically engaging collection demands to be enjoyed."
I hope readers enjoy Poems Far and Wide.... just as much as I enjoyed putting it together.
Some poems date back a little, while others are very recent indeed! The tone is contemporary and bold. There are are some longer dramatic and narrative poems, and others more lyrical in essence.
There are poems very close to home, some are observations of the natural world, while others take readers to far-flung destinations around the globe. Some are dramatic, or the poetic equivalent of 'character studies', with reverberating psychological resonance. There are poems of fast-paced wit and humor, and others deadly serious. There are trance-like or dream-like poems too, and experiments in language – often contrasting with hard-nosed factual observation. I hope the wide-ranging ambition of this collection will be enjoyed.
** Poems Far and Wide includes two first-prize winners, of both an international literary award and leading Australian poetry competition; plus eleven poems that have placed or been highly commended, commended or shortlisted in major awards. There is a referncce to one of its prize winners here: https://stillcraic.blogspot.com/2015/03/
*Puncher & Wattmann is one of Australia's leading literary publishers, so I am in excellent company. To date, they have published more than 150 titles, with more on the way. They deserve support from all serious readers.
Published in 2021:
A Half-Baked Fruitcake Of Nuts and Nonsense
Silly stuff for kids of all ages
During a Covid lockdown in my corner of the world, I was amazed to discover that I could draw. I had never tried before. Never! But I just started, and kept going. That said, I did know how to write silly rhymes! So I put the two together, my nonsense rhymes and new silly scribbles, then published this little book.
Here listed are the online bookstores now selling it: https://booko.com.au/9781922465658/A-Half-Baked-Fruitcake-of-Nuts-and-Nonsense-Silly-stuff-for-kids-of-all-ages
Over the past decades I have written nine previous books of poetry, including Growing up With Mr Menzies, published in 2008 by John Leonard Press. Download sections here: https://webarchive.nla.gov.au/awa/20190305182307/https://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poets/jenkins-john
Also, Ethos Books, Singapore, incuded the poem I Can Read Now, from Growing up With Mr Menzies, in their 2013 anthology of poetry, Little Things, see: https://www.ethosbooks.com.sg/products/little-things-an-anthology-of-poetry?_pos=1&_sid=e74ab2819&_ss=r
In December 2008, Morag Fraser, in Australian Book Review, named Growing up With Mr Menzies as one of her top three Australian books of the year.
As posted above, I am one of 35 verse novelists from Australia and Aotearoa-New Zealand interviewed by Linda Weste in her comprehensive, wide-ranging and inclusive book The Verse Novel Australian & New Zealand, from Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2022. In this study, Weste also asks some pertinent questions about my A Break in the Weather, pub. Modern Writing Press 2003, and its back-then ground-breaking subject matter of environmental catastrophe and climate change. This book was dumbly attacked by climate change denying trolls and reviewers when it first appeared. Nowadays, how things have changed!
NB. You can downbload a pdf file of A Break in the Weather here: http://johnjenkins.com.au/images/PDFs/A-Break-in-the-Weather.pdf
In addition, I have co-written eight titles with the Adelaide-based poet Ken Bolton, and our Selected collaborations is anticipated to appear from Puncher & Wattmann in July 2022. I will update this post when the book becomes available.
I have also co-edited (along with various co-editors) three anthologies of poetry: in years 1974, 1975 and 2007, and been frequently anthologised.
My 2003 collection, Dark River, published by Five Islands Press, was included on a special episode of ABC Radio National's excellent Poetica program, and you can download the audio of this complete episode here:
To Download a free pdf of this book: https://www.johnjenkins.com.au/images/PDFs/Dark-River.pdf
You can also see some of the book's contents here:
Dark River is listed in the Five Islands catalogue (scroll to year 2003):
Another early book, Blind Spot (1977), is freely downloadable here: https://www.johnjenkins.com.au/images/PDFs/Blind-Spot.pdf
And so too is The Wild White Sea (1990), here: http://johnjenkins.com.au/images/PDFs/Wild-white-sea.pdf
And talking of seas, so too is The Inland Sea (1984):
Finally, my very early book, Zone of the White Wolf and Other Landscapes (1974)... Well, I have re-designed the cover (see opposite), and also taken out all the illustrations, which I never liked, and also re-written one short prose poem, titled Ending (tones) which - by indirectly evoking and satirising Western cultural violence of the mid-70s - may have also suggested some sort of personal absorption, or even easy tolerance of it, which was exactly opposite my position.
'Zone' is now available as a download: see 'Zone' (PDF)
Meanwhile, here is the revised Ending (tones):
Starlings sit hunched upon the bare wires outside my window, now the angel has stilled these clouds in quietude. The bridge we remembered still rattles, bulging heavenward, but orchards and gardens have turned to seed in my mouth. Patience then - the thin heart you promised, caught in amber, fossilized, or set inside the crucifix you hold in your hand mon ami. Did the glass break as you said, or do strange doors still shuffle in the wind over the old amusement piers on the strand?
Remember - the temples along the quayside which coveted their mirrors, bottles, and jewelled censors? Their sullen alphabet of reverberate domes? Riverside Park has left you sheathed in the wind, though we still look for pearls in the grass; like Ramses who ruled his two Egypts with sharp hawk's eyes. (I have placed his two severed claws in a deep, hand-carved wooden bowl, stiff amidst dried rushes and everlastings.)
But new waves gyrate now upon the soppy grate of Autumn; the tides are tied to smaller horizons. My dreams were left unfulfilled in late September, while you feathered your mind in hair of silk and glass. Little rose, your soft mouth is lined with fur and straw, and is the world's glove and stable in this Autumn of grieving dust.
You took only the quietest doves into your hands then, granting them the deepest caress, to feel the tiny pulse tick in the throat, and small bones beneath their flesh. They were so vulnerable. Your cold songs flow across your thighs. Little rose, the world's skin in thin, nicked and budded, a soft edge for …
… crepuscular twilights, and the red heart of evening. Now Autumn holds you, and night and the stars conspire with the sensual lips of ancient mouths. And their forests - whispering in your hair!
Moonlight edges over the black rivers where the men of these cities uniform their young, instructing them in foreign lands. Even poets have revived the art of killing here, as pale bodies of the homeless litter the midnight streets, amidst the ravening beaks of winter starlings. Does my wayfarer then know that his laughter must break over an ocean of wasted spumes? He alights upon the world's shore, empty of promises. A razor is close to his heart. A keen edge - it will wound the false masks of kindness, the patriot’s sneer. The altars of this city drift with dark perfume - musk, death, and the blown rose. Feel the scarlet itch of fire between tangled nerves. Exquisite killers, you have scored these white fields in lymph and blood. A landscape of stunted salt bushes allays your ghosts, as alleyways of metropolis would harbour your bruised hands.
How shall we survive this news, make the near far again, and the far near? The boy soldier from below the soil, he rose to fight a sky of thunder. The whores were once simple village girls, their tears are endless. The fire rained down, and bitter chemicals scolded earth. Now murderers strut with surety through the plagues and frosts of this anniversary year.
Deceptive distances sound in loud bells beyond the headland; rounded in an open pink bell-throat, in raw meat, and caporal. We retreat into this smothered mood, into a distance between each thought and feeling. Stars aspire above the mast spikes, over mulled and leaden water. Harbour lights confusing the waves with composite shadows of spar and hull. The sea is burdened with vestiges of distant land; its steady rumours unclasp each bitter hand.
Smouldering wrecks on sunset. Fires burn behind shattered windows. The landscape has frozen into stone, and widows must grieve from the tiered windows of paradise.
Only the sea. The quiet. The unhindered shoreline. This stillness we have reached; the unforeseen crossing of a double star.
Black priests and fat nuns rant in solemn dormitories. Their faces will shine like empty lanterns in the dark. Only this ghostly billowing of clouds, the sun's bloody glory, and the darkest veins of manhood, as day expires. We will awake upon that other shore, and sing the chaos; as a transient unison of breathing stars.
Today, we hear only endings, tones. Go back. Rewrite the songs forced on us at bayonet point. Strip away the tears, the years, and tear the plunderers down, the sly, the slippery, the little sharks of night. Turn upon all those heartless ones, to live and breath again. Caste off their cruelty and doubt, before they steal your voice forever.
And, on a lighter, concrete note, here are two little sections of a longer poem from Zone, titled Open Sequence: