A6 32pp ISBN 978-0-9808656-1-5
$9.90 including postage
Janet Jackson has written poetry since 1986, seeking poems that work whether declaimed loudly or whispered in the mind. She has published a full-length collection, Coracle (2009), and three previous chapbooks, In the church of my skull (2005), Listen (2006) and In whatever voice (2007). She has been publishing online since 2003. Her website Proximity is archived by the National Library of Australia’s Pandora project.
Janet also writes songs and various kinds of prose. She performs her words with attitude, soul, and sometimes guitar. She frequently guests at festivals and readings, including the 2010 Australian Poetry Centre festival at Goolwa, the 2009 Queensland Poetry Festival and Melbourne Overload 2007.
Janet's poems have appeared in many print and online media including Westerly, Mattoid, Blast, The West Australian, nthposition (UK) and Hamilton Stone Review (US).
She has been part of the international online poetry community since 1989 when she posted a couple of poems on the newsgroup rec.arts.poems and was immediately invited to join an online salon by American poet, translator and classicist Jon Corelis. She still hangs out with some of the poets from that group, and many others, in the international poetryetc discussion group established by John Kinsella.
Janet Jackson has a freelance professional arts practice. As well as writing, publishing and performing her own words, she enjoys teaching poetry, performance and creative writing to kids and adults. She takes commissions for poetry, prose, editing, manuscript production and self-publishing, and produces and MCs events. She coordinates Perth Poetry Club. She is a member of Australian Poetry’s National Advisory Council.
I want to lock my face cams
on your chocolate-cake eyes
ski your hardline nose with my q finger
swipe your plush-ice mouth with my spacebar trackpad thumb
examine with my i finger
the precious folds and little faint hairs
of your pinna
trickle my j finger down the long line
from the left hinge
and my f finger down the long line
from the right hinge
of your jaw
to the sharp tip of your chin
and breathe on you like I breathed
on my babies.
Make that word
— ‘sensual’ —
Touch Typist has sent you a Fluffy Kitten
for Valentine’s Day. Click to accept.
See some more of her poems at Poetry Magazine.
Of all the fine books of poetry published in the period under review, one of the most exciting is Janet Jackson's first major collection, Coracle. From the opening lines of the first poem, the reader is introduced to a powerful, resonant and poignantly moving voice:
'I am a woman and I speak. / I am a woman with lines on her face and I speak. / I am a woman with lines on her face and scars on her belly and I speak / with the voice of a mother...'
The incantatory tone is instantly mesmerising, reminding us of the oral origins of all poetry. Rhetorical repetition aside, Jackson’s poetry is lean and purposeful. Open the book anywhere and the reader will find things happening in the lines: 'give this iceheart your rags to shiver in'; 'Through the light she sees the islands'; 'Night is where we are'; 'May rains and sky-high stars dive into you'. There are many stunning poems here, wry and wistful, love poems with a heartbreaking absence of sentimentality, terrific poems of place and observation and understanding.
In these poems, life's sorrows and disappointments, even tragedies, are treated without self-pity:
'I have stilled my tongue / I have been silent so long / all my words come out white...' ('Damask')
Michael Longley wrote, 'If most people who called themselves poets were tightrope walkers they'd be dead.'
Janet Jackson is a poet who walks tightropes, and she's doing exceptionally well at both occupations.
Coracle is unreservedly recommended.
Shane McCauley in indigo