Jenny Blackford

 I write poems and stories for all ages, often with a tinge of magic. My stories and poems for kids often appear in the School Magazine, as well as in Australian and international anthologies. The appeal of my poems spans wide age groups; I’m thrilled that poems originally published in literary journals such as Westerly and Quadrant have been reprinted in the School Magazine.

My most recent book is The Loyalty of Chickens, launched in April 2017, with a beautiful cover illustration by Gwynneth Jones. It is a collection of poems for people 11 plus, published by award-winning Sydney press Pitt Street Poetry. The Loyalty of Chickens includes many poems that have appeared, or are forthcoming, in the School Magazine.

Before that, Pitt Street Poetry published an illustrated chapbook of my cat poems, The Duties of a Cat, which received a Highly Recommended rating in Reading Time. Elspeth Cameron called it “a small but utterly charming publication of beautifully crafted poems about cats.”

I also write YA historical fiction. Hadley Rille Books published my YA-crossover historical novel set in ancient Athens and Delphi, The Priestess and the Slave. Kate Forsyth called it “Completely fascinating – a vivid and evocative glimpse into the life of the past, with its terrors and joys so strange and yet so familiar.” Macquarie University’s scholarly journal Ancient History: Resources for Teachers wrote, “It is extraordinarily moving… A true ancient historical novel.”

My poetry workshops can help kids find metaphors and similes for paws and tails, or show how alliteration and assonance, rhyme and meter work in practice. I can also talk about what it was like to be a slave in 5th century BC Greece, or how the Pythia of Apollo prophesied at Delphi. I can be booked through Ford Street Publishing’s Creative Net.

Email, Twitter @dutiesofacat, website



Game of Cat and Dragon


The white cat coils at my feet

like an albino dragon –

smaller than most, perhaps,

and furrier,

but sharp enough of tooth

and admirably clawed.

(first published in The School Magazine)


Soft silk sack


Cat puddles

against the floor

his body flat as milk.


He sleeps as if the world’s

supplies of dreams

were running out.


Now on my lap

a soft silk sack of bones

turns, warm, against my thigh.


(first published in The School Magazine)


Mostly nameless colours


Mostly nameless colours,
Colours you’d like to see


– Robert Graves, “Welsh Incident”


Colours I’d like to see in next year’s car catalogue:

Cinnamon latte, baked pumpkin, varnished copper

Violet crumble, tomato soup, smurf

Azaleas in the snow


Mashed banana, mango ice cream, squashed lizard
Daddylonglegs, huntsman, redback shiny black

The monster under the bed


Big blue beetle, green bug, tree frog

Crescent moon glinting from an ancient katana beside a crater lake

Pond scum


Grey nurse, great white, hammerhead

Seaweed, seawrack, seaserpent

Mermaid belly


Dragon bone, dragon tooth, dragon scale

Black hole


(first published in Grievous Angel)