After leaving school at the age of 13, Jennifer Maiden worked at a number of jobs before earning a Bachelor of Arts from Macquarie University. A professional writer, she has also taught creative writing. Maiden has been poet-in-residence at ANU and the University of Western Sydney.
Maiden has published in a number of genres, including poetry, short stories, novels, radio scripts, children's literature and plays. Her paintings have appeared on covers of some of her books of poetry. She has contributed to numerous Australian and international publications, such as the Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, Overland, Hecate, Poetry Australia and London Magazine.
Maiden's poetry encompasses a wide range of subject matter, from the experiences of daily life and family relationships, to feminism and international politics. Often complex and intense, much of her poetry challenges the reader to follow subtle uses of figurative language, and sudden changes of direction in the narrative. A. D. Hope has praised Maiden's poetry, asserting on the cover of her Selected Poems that her work displays "great originality of line and image". Her poem 'The Consort' has been set to music by Mark C. Pollard.
In addition to the awards she has won for specific works, Maiden has also received the English Association Prize, Harri Jones Memorial Prize and the Grenfell Henry Lawson Festival of Arts Award in 1979. She has also been the recipient of several Literature Board Grants.
'The Metronome is the third in Giramondo's series of annual poetry collections by award-winning poet Jennifer Maiden, addressing political and social issues of the moment, particularly here the tension caused by the election of the US president. Building on the two previous collections Drones and Phantoms and The Fox Petition, The Metronome features intimate conversations about power and policy between contemporary figures and their historical counterparts, the patriots Jeremy Corbyn and Constance Markievicz on a walk in the Scottish Highlands, Governor Bligh and his namesake Wiliam Bligh Turnbull discussing the difference between temper and temperament, Eleanor Roosevelt counselling Hillary Clinton on the use of violence, Jane Austen and Tanya Plibersek talking about sense and sensibility in Sydney's Botanical Gardens. Throughout, we admire Maiden's ability to read the faces and gestures of public figures, the strength of her women, her magical settings, and the rhythmical beat of the poetic metronome, offering reassurance and continuity in a period of austerity and fear. Jennifer Maiden's collections have won the NSW and Victorian Premier's Poetry Prizes, the Age Poetry Book of the Year, and the Victorian Premier's Award for Literature, the richest literary prize in Australia.'
'New poems by Australia's foremost political poet, written in response to the social crises that confront us now.
'Jennifer Maiden's new collection deals with xenophobia and the rejection of otherness, whether immigrant or domestic. It takes as its emblem the fox, representing our fear of the introduced and ill-reputed, but its title also refers to the petition of the great Whig statesman, Charles James Fox, for the rights of all people, including freedom of speech and habeas corpus. Fox himself is the subject of some of the poems, while others focus on the crisis in Greece, Hillary Clinton and Eleanor Roosevelt reflecting on poverty and human rights in Iowa, and the development of Julie Bishop in relation to the vulnerability and sensibility engendered by politics and crisis. There is a dialogue between Obama and Gandhi on the methods needed to ensure political results, Kevin Rudd tries to explain Manus Island to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Keith Murdoch and his son Rupert discuss their attempts at idealism in the glass penthouse apartment of the latter.' (Publication summary)
'Winner of the Victorian Premier's Literature Award, the richest literary prize in Australia Shortlisted for the international Griffin Poetry Prize Drones and Phantoms is a powerful successor to Maiden's prize-winning collection Liquid Nitrogen, and again features her unique interweaving of the personal and the political, in the use of intimate and public poetic modes within each poem and within the collection as a whole. The poems are in fact conversations, not only between the poet and the reader, but between historical and political figures, such as Princess Diana and Mother Teresa, Tanya Pliberesek and Jane Austen, Mandela and Obama, Queen Victoria and Tony Abbott, Kevin Rudd and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who come to life in Maiden's poems to discuss their anxieties and ethical insecurities. There are also poems on the Cypriot financial crisis, Jimmy Hoffa, Judith Wright, Julia Gillard, the Copenhagen giraffe killing and Russian power in the Crimea. Maiden is unique both for the interrogative power of her poems, and the sense of vulnerability they express, in their subjects, and in the poet herself.' (Publication summary)