Andy Jackson writes about bodily difference and lives in Castlemaine. He has performed at dozens of events and festivals (including The Age Melbourne Writers Festival, Castlemaine State Festival, Brisbane Writers Festival, Prakriti Poetry Festival [in Chennai, India], Goa Literary & Arts Festival, Australian Poetry Festival, Queensland Poetry Festival, Clifden Arts Festival [Ireland], Newcastle Young Writers Festival and Overload Poetry Festival), had poems published in a variety of print and on-line journals, been awarded grants from the Australia Council and Arts Victoria, and been the recipient of an Australian Society of Authors mentorship. He has been awarded residencies from Victorian Writers Centre, Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre (Perth) and Asialink. He is also an infrequent collaborator with musicians, sound artists and other writers.
His first full-length collection of poems, Among the Regulars,was published by papertiger media in 2010 – this book was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Prize for Poetry (the Kenneth Slessor Prize) and Highly Commended in the Anne Elder Award. A collaborative puppetry-poetry performance with Rachael Wenona Guy entitled Ambiguous Mirrors won the City of Yarra Award for Most Innovative Work at the Overload Poetry Festival in 2009. He won the 2008 Arts ACT Rosemary Dobson Award for Best Unpublished Poem for Secessionist.
In 2013, with thanks to funding from Copyright Agency, he attended the Summer Writing Program at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University, Boulder, Colorado USA. Also in 2013, with funding from Arts Victoria and through Pozible, he performed Ambiguous Mirrors in Ireland with Rachael Guy.
Also in 2013, he won the Whitmore Press Manuscript Prize. The resulting collection of poems – the thin bridge – has just recently been released.
Another collection – Immune systems – a semi-fictional verse novella on medical tourism, coupled with a series of ghazals on India – was released by Transit Lounge in 2015.
In 2016, a chapbook – That knocking – was published by Little Windows.
In 2017, a further collaborative performance work with Rachael Guy and Leonie Van Eyk, Each Map of Scars, premiered at the Castlemaine State Festival. Featuring live performance, puppetry, stop-motion animation and poetry, this work was also performed at the Queensland Poetry Festival.
A new full-length collection of biographical poems of people with Marfan Syndrome – Music our bodies can’t hold – has just been released through Hunter Publishers.
Andy has the genetic condition Marfan Syndrome.
So scholarly without the vanity, the poems feel as intimate as if you had naturally written them and dreamt them up all by yourself, no doubt of it. In a way, they are conversational, but mostly they are reflective and witness-poetics that are composed in order to get what foulness you have to look at, and what inspiration. Let us hope that Andy Jackson scores every prize there is for poetry, not just in Australia, where poetry seems not all that possible due to our ministers not reading any of it, but in every country where art is seen as higher than the latest machine-gunning.
This is a poetry in which seemingly contradictory attributes are embodied. Lyric beauty combines with an unflinching gaze, self-assuredness with vulnerability, awareness of minute bodily gesture with existentialist questionings… ‘Among the Regulars’ is a distinctive, impressive and thought-provoking collection. By asking the reader to step into the body of another, it challenges us to consider the impact of assumptions of ‘normality’ on the individual. Ultimately though, it is the presence of Jackson himself breathing through the lines which makes this such a moving work.
With an authorial intensity to match [Jill] Jones, Andy Jackson’s that knocking delivers the most knockout opening of a poem I’ve read this year… Staccato lines crack, cajole and wound the textual body back into the physical… Poetry of such a brutal order might nearly be up to facing the ‘truth’.
As director of the festival, all poets are my favourite children, but a special mention needs to go to Andy Jackson who along with Genevieve and her trusty harp Jezebel, and David Splatt on saw, absolutely knocked the socks off the punters at the Edinburgh Castle. Coburg never sounded so good.
Heartbreaking but controlled… parables, hymns and moving observations of relationships between people and then between the poet and himself or him-selves… Poem upon poem, the reader is confronted by the political and private (one is the other, here), then forcefully invited to take notice of those things from which we often shy away. It combines passion, originality and a control of form. He eloquently, emotionally tells his own story while never letting these strong emotions override the poetry – he is in total control of his matter. It is an intelligent but accessible collection.
A polished and assured collection, so radiant with insight and sureness of touch that it’s impossible to remain unmoved. Andy Jackson has the uncanny knack of seeing humanity, like a burning filament, underneath what appears at first mundane. His poems, like beautifully shaped pieces of music, change melody and cadence but always resonate, coming to us out of pools of silence to show us the pathos in difficult conversations, late night drinks with friends, sexuality, grief, and an extraordinarily acute awareness of physicality and mortality. They’re poems that disarm you with their gentleness while refusing to flinch from what’s there.
Compassion is, and has always been, the distinguishing feature of Andy Jackson’s work… [a compassion which is] hard-won rather than casual; unflinching rather than sentimental.