Home > Poets > Harrison, Jennifer

Jennifer Harrison (1955 – )

Jennifer Harrison was born in Liverpool, in Sydney's western suburbs, in 1955. She studied medicine at the University of New South Wales, graduating in 1979, and subsequently trained in psychiatry. She spent time in Boston, USA, where she began writing poetry. Since the 1990s she has lived in Melbourne, where she has practised as a child psychiatrist specialising in developmental disorders.

Harrison began publishing her poetry in the mid-1990s. Her first collection, Michelangelo's Prisoners (1995), won the FAW Anne Elder award. The following year, she published a collaboratively-written collection of "composite poems" with fellow Melbourne poets Graham Henderson and K. F. Pearson, and a second solo volume, Cambramatta/Cudmirrah, a collection of poems in which Harrison reflects on the  places where she grew up, exploring the connections between place, poetry and memory. Her third collection, Dear B (1998), contains a number of extended sequences dealing with both her own experience of illness, and her work as a psychiatrist, while her next major collection, Folly and Grief (2006), explores the traditions of the Commedia dell'arte, and contemporary street performance.

Harrison has been an active member of the Melbourne poetry community, convening the "Writers at the Water Rat" series of readings, and co-editing (with Phil Ilton) a subsequent anthology, Said the Rat! Writers at the Water Rat! 2000-2002 (2003). With Sydney-based poet Kate Waterhouse, she edited an anthology of recent poetry about mothers and children, Motherlode: Australian Women's Poetry 1986-2008 (2009). In 2010, Harrison published a collection of new and selected poems, Columbine.

Poetry Collections

Michaelangelo's Prisoners (Collingwood, Vic: Australian Scholarly Publishing and Black Pepper, 1995).

[with Graham Henderson and K. F. Pearson], Mosaics and Mirrors: composite poems (Fitzroy North: Black Pepper, 1996).

Cabramatta/Cudmirrah (Fitzroy North: Black Pepper, 1996).

Dear B (Fitzroy North: Black Pepper, 1998).

Changzhuo's Bees: and other poems (Warners Bay: Picaro Press, 2004).

Folly and Grief (Fitzroy North: Black Pepper, 2006). http://walleahpress.com.au/FR34Harrison.html

Columbine: New and Selected Poems (Fitzroy North: Black Pepper, 2010).

Suggested Further Reading

Liz Hall-Downs, 'Globalisation and Globe-Trotting,' Ulitarra no.16 (2000), pp. 150-54.

Mark O'Flynn, 'Review: Jennifer Harrison's Folly and Grief,' Famous Reporter no. 34 (2006), pp. 18-21.

Peter Rose, 'Public Connotations,' Australian Book Review no. 212 (1999), pp. 35-36.

Peter Rose, 'Drifting in the Margins,' Australian Book Review no. 188 (1997), pp. 44-45.

Jennifer Strauss, [untitled review], Australian Book Review no. 174 (1995), pp. 52-55.