Andy Jackson

Andy was one of the first people to give me the encouragement to keep writing when he judged one of my poems in a competition in 2010. Since then I’ve tracked his career as a poet and it’s clear that it continues to be a rich and full one. It’s exciting to see that his next collection will be published by Whitmore Press and it is a beautiful book to hold and to read and savour. The poems featured here give you a sneak preview of the works in The Thin Bridge which gives you an insight into how it is to love and live with a rare physical condition that informs a whole being and creative life.

As winner of the Whitmore Press Manuscript Prize, The Thin Bridge will be launched by Dr Kevin Brophy – poet, writer, academic, on Friday 5 September at Collected Works, First Floor, Nicholas Building, 37 Swanston Street, Melbourne. 6 for 6.30pm. Andy’s blog is at

Two portraits, no black rectangle

In a basement – Relax, he says, so I
hide the tension somewhere in the stomach.

Move your hands away from your sides, thanks.
This isn’t about aesthetics, but diagnosis.

Can you move your boxers down just a little?
What does it matter what I felt?

Lift your chin up.  That’s it.  Just one more.
There were plenty more, but who’d prefer

the truth to relief?  Years later,
my file arrives with a thump on the mat.

I’d remembered a black rectangle that wasn’t there.
In the photo, my face is visible and a touch out of focus.


Hugo Williams wrote, Given that poems themselves are metaphors,
I find overt metaphors more and more embarrassing in poems,

                        which is interesting because it seems to
he’s also talking about photography,

clocks, chairs, a green lake somewhere, memory
and association, the unstoppable neural flares and leaps –

the white space
of the mind which can never be empty.


This is different, singular
or trying its best to be – lenses facing off

at close range.  Camera-sound,
an automatic sprinkler.  I squint into

a brilliant sun that loves
and ignores us.  One of the garden’s pigeons

tilts her quizzical silver head.
In the beds, the fresh stink of fertiliser.

I remember now the continual labour.
Lines dug into soil.  This face

that looks back at the world that is making it.
The background is a blur.

 First appeared in Land Before Lines (photographic portraits of poets by Nicholas Walton-Healey, 2014)

Fact and resistance

The monthly open mic begins with two bearded men
wheeling Clancy of the Overflow through the room,
the audience mostly chairs.  In the Lancefield Mercury,
I read how Dennis Edwards plans to return to Nui Dat.

In ’69, kept awake by heat and detonations, they build
playground equipment for the local orphanages.  Later,
teachers and nuns are raped and killed by the Viet Cong.
Horse with No Name.  Dirty Old Town.  A song I don’t know.

The guitarists swap mics.  A cough-induced stumbled chord,
their laughter fills the room.  Elderly parents settle
the restless hands of their two disabled adult daughters.
All day, the tables are cleared and wiped clean.

Outside town, small herds of cattle feast on drought grass.
Stones and boulders sit arranged on nearby hillsides
as if miraculous, but what isn’t a collision of fact
and resistance?  Even home, even breath.

First appeared in Unusual Work, (PiO) 2012


Andy Jackson’s collection Among the regulars (papertiger media 2010) was shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Prize and Highly Commended in the Anne Elder Award. His new collection the thin bridge won the 2013 Whitmore Press Manuscript Prize and has just been released. He has performed at literary events and arts festivals in Australia, India, USA and Ireland, and his poetry has been featured on Radio Australia, 3CR, 3RRR-FM, Radio National’s Poetica, and at the Melbourne Museum. Andy and Rachael Guy won the Most Innovative Work award at the 2009 Overload Poetry Festival for their poetry-puppetry collaboration Ambiguous Mirrors. He is currently working on a series of portrait poems of other people with Marfan Syndrome.

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