Books by Jill Jones
Dark Bright Doors
Wakefield Press, Adelaide, 2010
Available from Wakefield Press
Dark Bright Doors raises questions of the self, as well as the ecology of place and language. This is Jones at her most versatile and idiosyncratic, at times a little wild and dark. The poems are intimate, sharp, self-critical and very present.
What the critics have said about Dark Bright Doors:
"Jill Jones’s sparse lyrics, most barely filling a page, are warm, wondrous and sensual. From [the] opening image it is clear that these poems will be dark, sinuous, unsettling and enigmatic. The volume does not disappoint. It gleams. ... This is not transparent poetry. It is intelligent and elusive as well as allusive ... Portraying a dysfunctional and disquieting dystopia, Jones’s poetry is both symptomatic of and diagnostic of this fallen realm we inhabit: the Twenty-First Century. ... Yet here and there are glimpses of tranquillity ... revelling in colour, form, plane, angle and light. I cannot speak highly enough of Jill Jones’s work. She is quite simply one of the best poets writing in Australia today, and her poetry deserves a wide audience – indeed, it demands to be read." - Alison Clifton, M/C Review, May 2010
"This is a dark commanding work. ... Dark Bright Doors seemingly tremors with possibilities, glimmering at the edges of beautiful thoughts and weathered philosophies, making the dark unknown heart of the self all that more beguiling, if only for an instant." - Scott-Patrick Mitchell, Out in Perth, 2010
"The self, as it locates itself within Jones’ work, is not one which strives to be in the present — because it wants to be — not zen striving — but because it feels obligated to be. The poetic self which stabilizes within a grasp of objects in the material world is here transformed to one which loses grip on those objects and all personal connections. The book’s enscription states “Contact/is/the art” and each poem reaches toward that contact. Some fail (intentionally — these are brilliant poems) and others begin to make their way toward a resolution in that which is beyond the poet." - Chad Scheel, Jacket 40, July 2010
"This collection continues an experimental tradition in contemporary poetry that refuses some of post-modernism’s past binaries and opens up poetry’s radar as a par exemplar for registering life’s and language’s atmospherics, ensuring (to borrow from another book title) that everything is illuminated." - Keri Glastonbury, Mascara Literary Review, Issue 8, October 2010
"... haunted by the same brutal truths about love and hope and the wedges that age, distance and human frailty drive between them. Dark Bright Doors exudes wide-eyed angst and a sense of discovery that's hard to put across in prose." - Hamesh Wyatt, Otago Daily Times, 19 June 2010
"... explores the landscapes of the self and how they interface with place and language. Like the title, the book is a confluence of light and dark."- The Northern Star, Mar 27, 2010
Salt Publishing, Cambridge, 2005
The Age Poetry Book of the Year 2005
& Kenneth Slessor Poetry Prize 2006
The poems in Broken/Open are markings through continuous topographies: streets, shores, bodies. They use the soundtracks of modern lives to negotiate difficult harbours and debatable terrains. They are shards, borrowings and reshapings of forms, overheard dialogue and writings and art by others, signs and relics of the concrete world, tensions in a moment.
What critics said
"In the last few years, Australian poet Jill Jones has emerged as a writer of extraordinary fluency and richness. These new poems, often trance-like and fragmentary, grow from a deep sense of temporal process and the mobility of feeling. They capture the quick and the pulse of the world around them. ... What results is a poetry both subtle and very beautiful, both inward and intensely aware of the objective world." - Martin Harrison
"What I have loved especially in Jones' poetry, and find again over and over in this collection, is the way she uses poetry to create a free self - positive, humane, fully exposed to life. It is at this level that I think of her work as having a spiritual kinship to Frank O'Hara and early Ashbery that beautiful rich innocence in which, using a contemporary unpretentious vocabulary, they were able to state the passionate exposure of living in a post-religious, post-grandiose world. Like Montale, another kindred spirit, Jones intuits that the tragic, the beautiful, the truly important will find their expression here in our everydayness." - Peter Boyle, The Famous Reporter
"The result is poetry of unsettling mystery and beauty. The art of this book lies in the precision with which it renders the glassiness of things, the shatterings, without having to say so - passionate and parodic at once, as cool as all get out." - Barry Hill, The Australian
"... acutely aware of the slipperiness of language, of the impossibility of denoting meaning, of putting into words sketching a broken world through sometimes cryptic, sometimes jubilant annotations." - Gig Ryan, Australian Book Review
"Jill Jones' poems are trusting, human and exact. They anticipate possibility, the invisible, sometimes abrupt edges of comprehension, while inviting alert contact with the material world. This work is sharp, sassy and maturely anti-romantic, sorting the strengths of contemporary Australian poetry."- Peter Minter
"There is simultaneously an awareness of the interconnectedness of life and the needs of language, a poetry where emotion is integrated with the quiet power of the intelligence behind them. This is a wonderful book full of cadence and meaning, rich and complex. I enjoyed it immensely and continue to enjoy it. Buy it and don't leave it on your bookshelf. Broken/Open is about the struggle and radiance of living a life." - Angela Gardner, foam:e
comments - The Age
Poetry Book of the Year 2005:
"Broken/Open courts the great themes of modern poetry notwithstanding Jill Jones' obvious affiliation with "language poetry", a practice often implying the abandonment of traditional subject and object relations and the dislocation of syntax and grammar. In her case the celebration of language itself is variously grafted to her poems of romantic love, the experience of nature, evocations of the city. Writing that calls attention to itself by deformation of narrative or extreme elision often jeopardises the beauty of shape, sound and perception, yet many of these poems are riveting examples of poetry's pure pleasure." Kris Hemensley
Slessor Poetry Prize 2006:
"In Broken/Open the poems often open with sharp, pithy statements, for these are lyrics which move in a tense, terse fast-lane. And this is interesting because of the intimacy of tones involved is almost too over the top at times, as if Jill Jones knew you personally and expected you to travel with her (an adventurous reader will always accept such an invitation). At 144 pages some poets' 'Collected Poems' are this size, so Jones has little problem in marshalling her fecundity and this is aided by the sheer variety of what she writes about (for these are solid, meaningful poems that certainly have subject matter). The best work is towards the end of the book: love, longing, physical craving, celebration of nature, the meaningfulness and meaninglessness of life are particularly captured in this group of poems. Early in her career she hitched her star the wonderful 'Go anywhere, write on anything, in any style' tradition and this still very much sustains her."
& Radiance: Ten Commentaries
Wild Honey Press, 2004
What critics said
"Struggle & radiance brings together the sharp humour of a mature (anti-)romanticism with an understanding of poetry's struggle with the boundaries between language, self and our relationships with others in the world. It is a poetry that dramatises the desire to know, to share experience, while simultaneously being acutely aware of the limitations of communication, the impasse of reference." - Peter Minter
"The title of Jill Jones new chapbook of poems, Struggle & radiance evokes a measure of transcendence in our 24/7, 7/11 times. ... This is the negative domestic, the domestic taken out onto the streets- to ironise large claims, and to emphasise the power and importance of small ones. ... [Jones] holds the world up like a fly wing to the light in a form of nationalism we can actually digest and prosper on. These are ambitious poems, if not obviously so." - Michael Farrell
"Stunning artwork on cover, a rectangle of splashes, dashes, swirls of color, which might best be described with a fragment of the poetry as "beyond the difference/ trapped in vision" ("I. A Vision"). ... This is a poet with not only ear and eye fully committed to work together in/on the poem, but the entire body of being is ever present, fully an art, then, not only committing distinctly differing parts to the whole, but of engaged commitment to the larger social body of ideas, not least of which that of self-reflective questions of temporal presence, transcendence and influenced by cultural habituation." - Christine Murray
"The striking consistency in these poems is the subtle authority of the narrator. Reading and re-reading these poems, I increasingly gained a sense of the speaker and beheld a measured, composed voice, an unwavering character amid turmoil and modern refractions. Although I personally do not subscribe to the theories of post modernism, I perceived that the speaker approaches the poeticised world in such a manner. For those who are so inclined, there will be plenty to ruminate upon and empathise with in this volume. Still, there was something curious about this book, deceptively hidden beyond the fingernail-thin spine. Each time I opened the book, it was as though I was reading the poems for the first time. This is certainly a kaleidoscopic quality that contemporary poetry can have, though generally at not such short intervals between readings. Perhaps it was my state of mind at the time of reading, or perhaps the aforementioned silences allowed for renewed meaning." - Maria Christoforatos, Cordite Poetry Review
Screens Jets Heaven: New & Selected Poems
Salt Publishing, Cambridge, 2002
2003 Kenneth Slessor Poetry Prize, NSW Premier's
Screens Jets Heaven contains selections from Jill Jones' first three books plus a number of new and uncollected poems.
the 2003 Kenneth Slessor Poetry Prize judges said about Screens Jets
"This collection contains a selection of poems from Jill Jones's previously published books, The Mask and the Jagged Star (1992), Flagging Down Time (1993), and The Book of Possibilities (1997), and is followed by a solid selection of new and uncollected poems, 'Screens Jets Heaven' - the title of the book.
One of the strengths of the book is its sense of wholeness. Throughout the collection there is an involvement with the nature and quality of urban and inner suburban existence - as represented by the city of Sydney. The poet's persona observes, engages with, absorbs, scrutinizes and reflects on, often meditatively, contemporary urban existence, in all its various tempers and tones. Jones is concerned with both the physical material level and the more subtle levels of feeling and inner consciousness. Her poetry is often a poetry of atmospheres - physical, emotional, etheric. The breadth of her vision encompasses, moves through, the grit and clamour of the streets and neighbourhood, the traffic of both road and air, the harbour, the city office block, work life, the life of the home, the passions of the heart.
She is an inclusive, expansive poet: nature (both terrestrial and celestial), the behaviours of the elements and the weather, the various affects of night and day are integrated within her human, psychic landscapes/thoughtscapes. While she acknowledges the flaws and shadows inherent in existence - her poems often emanating a melancholic aura - a guardedly affirmative perspective ultimately emerges from this book. Lucid, clear imagery, succinct and measured phrasing, and a distinctively quiet, calm, exact and almost mellifluous rhythm in her poetic voice will impress a reader of her work."
What critics said
"Jill Jones' poetry is both juicy and intimate. But underneath its lovely Sydney tang of sun and harbour is a dark destabilising smell of trouble. This is a complex and fascinating book." Dorothy Porter
"her best work has a surrealist, transformative energy ... and her work as a whole is marked by a kind of hopeful melancholy. ... She looks with clarity - with neither coldness nor sentimentality - at desire, longing and loss." David McCooey, Australian Book Review
"a rich, essentially celebratory snapshot of urban life, truly lived. ... The new and uncollected segment has fine work. 'In The Deep Sepulchre of Dance' leaves you sweaty. I've found it hard to leave the page at the end of "This Business of Love', 'Rust', 'Sulphur' and 'Screens, Jets, Heaven'." Les Wicks, The Famous Reporter
"Jones' poems are energised by an engagement with the thresholds where the public and the private, the social and domestic, the political and the personal meet. ... the rhythms and cadences finding resonance in the intricate connections of thought and image ... certainly one of our best practitioners of the meditative urban lyric, playing the range of both the soft and hard pedals." Judith Beveridge, Southerly
Book of Possibilities
Hale & Iremonger, Sydney, 1997
Shortlisted for National Book Council Awards 1997, The Age Poetry Book of the Year 1997 and Adelaide Festival Awards 1998.
critics said about The
Book of Possibilities:
"... her vision is impeccable. Like other contemporary poets liberated from bardic pronouncement, Jones invites the reader to share in the speculative processes of discovery ..." Lyn Jacobs, Heat
"... an engaging and distinctive lyricism, full of deft insight and quiet charm, strong, and elegantly and gracefully articulated." Judith Beveridge
"Jones' work is intellectually sharp, extending itself, but always accessible. It's tough, lyrical, fibrous and delicate." Lynette Kirby, Australian Book Review
"Jones' work is so easy on the eye and senses, you wonder what tricks she has just slipped through your inattentive gaps, because you know she has disturbed you in the most devious sort of way. Her style is one of the waiting thunderstorm amidst the tight stasis of before-rain." Bev Braune, Australian Women's Book Review
" ...explores the boundaries of inner and outer experience, the shifting approximations of fact and possibility ... the journeys we take with Jones are always made complex ...Jones pursues the border between action and observation, the flux between contact and meaning ... maps the possibilities for interaction and contact that space may hold. ... There are many ways to live, even if it is only in dream, and no matter what happens the risks are still taken." MTC Cronin, Cordite
Five Islands Press, Wollongong, 1993
critics said about Flagging
"one of the most exciting voices in contemporary Australian poetry ... a rich layering of image and idea, an archaeology of fiercely intellectual, and poignantly vulnerable insight and juxtaposition ..." Rose Lucas, Australian Women's Book Review
"With 'Flagging Down Time', Jill Jones strengthens her reputation as one of those poets who is beginning to move Australian poetry into new directions - towards a greater trust than ever in the poet's own responses, a quietening of judgemental implications, and a desire to be able to articulate positive emotion, to find ways of exploring the rhapsodic." Martin Langford, Southerly
"... complex and intelligent. ... This is considered, controlled, speculative poetry ..." David Gilbey, Linq
Mask and the Jagged Star
Hazard Press, Christchurch, 1992
Winner, 1993 Mary Gilmore Award.
Commended, 1993 Ann Elder Award.
critics said about The
Mask and the Jagged Star:
"urban evocations both heartfelt and gritty ... " Alan Wearne, The Age
"... an acutely observing eye and attention to form ... a formidable new voice." Catherine Bateson, Australian Womens' Book Review
"Jill Jones writes with convincing paranoia - an outsider who knows what it feels like to be inside." Kevin Brophy, Going Down Swinging
"This is a rewarding book by a poet who knows it is a poet's job to define 'a language for each morning, like this one'." John Davies, Southerly
"There is something peculiarily Australian about [the] elevation of 'ordinariness' and Jones, at her best, does it well. At times, however, she also subverts the tradition, embracing new features into [the] familiar Australian tradition." Mark Roberts, Scarp
"... a singular voice, able to transform and give significance to the minute details of daily life." James Norcliffe, Christchurch Star
"...a lively and engaging poet" Frank Harper, Bay of Plenty Times