Anna Jackson is a New Zealand poet and academic, partner of artist Simon Edmonds and mother of children, Johnny and Elvira. Her poetry was first published in book form in AUP New Poets 1 (AUP, 1999). Since, Jackson has published five collections of poetry and a book of poetic collaboration with Dunedin poet, Jenny Powell-Chalmers, as well as authoring and co-editing numerous works of literary criticism, guest-editing New Zealand magazines and contributing everything from essays on children’s literature and poetics, to short fiction and book reviews for journals and anthologies in New Zealand and overseas. Of Jackson’s poetry, literary critic David Larsen writing in The Dominion Post declares, “You could see these poems as bone carvings made from the remains of short stories: gripping narratives reduced to the purest, most elegant minimum.”
Gripping narratives indeed, Jackson’s poems are enriched with an eclectic array of themes, most notably the domestic, familial, childhood, imagination, the creation and dissemination of oral narratives, and the symbioses between physical and psychological journeying. Describing the formation of her first solo collection, The Long Road to Teatime, whose titular poem appears here, Jackson says, “I am mother, daughter, sister, sister-in-law, friend, niece, cousin, granddaughter, and also reader. The stories I tell and am told translate and are translated through stories I read, in the newspaper, in the library, in prose and poetry, The long road to teatime is a long road to literary history, that goes back to the moment in evolutionary history when our babies first cried out to us to sing. We sang to them of family.” Jackson’s reference to family is telling, for her most powerful poems (‘The Long Road to Teatime’ for instance) cast her children, partner and friends as protagonists in epic narratives which quarry the author’s wide-ranging literary interests and allusions. Her reading of this poem, gentle but rousing, deepens the impact of the work upon the reader.
As an academic, Jackson has had an equally extensive career. She completed an MA at the University of Auckland (NZ) before undertaking a D Phil at Oxford University. Her thesis ‘A Poetics of the Diary’ examines diarian-writing by Katharine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf and others. Jackson has lectured at the University of Otago (NZ), the University of Auckland, Oxford University and Victoria, the University of Wellington (NZ), where she’s currently Senior Lecturer in the Department of English, Film, Theatre and Media Studies.
1999 Louis Johnson New Writers Bursary
2001 Waikato University Writer in Residence
2002 Montana New Zealand Book Awards (poetry shortlist), The Pastoral Kitchen
2012 New Zealand Post Book Awards (poetry finalist), Thicket