Powell, Jenny

Powell, Jenny



In Brief

Jenny Powell is a poet, performance poet and creative writing tutor. She is a graduate of John Dolan's poetry class at Otago University, and her poetry has been published in a wide range of literary magazines. Powell's collections include Sweet Banana Wax Peppers (1998), Hats (2000), and Ticket Home (2012). As an artist interested in collaborative work, Powell has published Double Jointed (2003) with ten poets of her choice, and Locating the Madonna (2004) with poet Anna Jackson.


Powell, Jenny (1960- ) is primarily known as a poet, performance poet, creative writing tutor and literacy teacher.

Jenny Powell was born in Dunedin. After studying music in Wellington, Powell returned to Dunedin where she continues to live.

In 1996 she graduated from John Dolan's Poetry Class at Otago University. Jenny Powell (who also published as Jenny Powell-Chalmers) has been widely published in literary journals and anthologies, including Ambit, Sentinal Literary Quarterly, Orbit, The Guardian, Cordite, Cadenza, Landfall, Sport, Percutio, New New Zealand Poets and Wildes Licht.

She has twice been a finalist in the UK based Aesthetica Creative Works Competition, was short-listed for the 2009 UK Plough Poetry Prize, was a finalist in the 2011 Wales Poetry Competition, was a runner up in the 2010 UK Myslexia Poetry Competition, and was shortlisted for the 2012 Janet Frame Memorial Award.

Powell's collections from HeadworX publishers are Sweet Banana Wax Peppers (1998), Hats (2000), Four French Horns (2004), and Viet Nam: a poem journey (2010). Writing in New Zealand Books, Michael Harlow described Powell-Chalmers' first collection, Sweet Banana Wax Peppers, as, 'strikingly provocative and insightful’.

Ticket Home: Thirty Poems by Jenny Powell was released by Cold Hub Press in 2012, followed by Trouble (2014) and South D Poet Lorikeet (2017). Reviewing Trouble in Landfall NZ, Lynley Edmeades wrote 'Jenny Powell knows how to write a great poem; she knows lyricism and she writes with a cinematic theme and presence.'

Her cross-genre, true account of a woman who has no sense of her body, was published by Otago University Press in 2016. The Case of the Missing Body begins to be solved, when, on one extraordinary day, working in the gym with her physiotherapist, ‘Lily’ discovers she has shoulder blades.

Jenny Powell and Kay McKenzie Cooke have formed the touring partnership of J & K Rolling. They regularly tour the Otago/Southland hinterland, frequently targeting areas that have not had visiting poets. As well as giving readings, a primary aim of the project is to encourage local poets to read their own work.

As an artist interested in collaborative work, Powell has published Double Jointed (Inkweed, 2003) writing a series of 'duets' with ten poets. Locating the Madonna (Seraph Press, 2004) was written with poet Anna Jackson.

Montecillo Child, Powell’s performance piece for voices, images and soundscape had its debut season at Toitu Otago Settler’s Gallery in 2015. It was produced by Talking House as one of the Gallipoli centennial commemorations.

In collaboration with composer Kerian Varaine, film-maker Phoebe MacKenzie and animateur Simon O'Connor, Powell wrote and performed Alive in Berlin at the 2017 Dunedin Fringe Festival. A mix of spoken word - poetry, prose and one-person 'dialogues' - with projected images and new music compositions, the work explores ideas of displacement and uncertainty from shifting perspectives of time, place, events, memory and the psyche itself. Alive in Berlin was a finalist in the 2017 Dunedin Theatre Awards for Lighting and for Outstanding Written Text/Narrative/Libretto.

Jenny Powell and composer Anthony Ritchie were commissioned to write a vocal and instrumental piece to mark the 50th Anniversary of Saturday Morning Music Classes in Dunedin. ‘Toitu’s Song’ will be performed in the Dunedin Town Hall in 2018.


Updated July 2016.