Actions & Travels: How Poetry Works

Anna Jackson

Author: Anna Jackson
Format: Paperback, Ebook
Published: 10 March 2022
Pages: 312
Specs: 13.0cm x 19.8cm
ISBN: 9781869409180

Available in Ebook


A brilliant introduction to how poetry works through one hundred poems.

Through illuminating readings of one hundred poems – from Catullus to Alice Oswald, Shakespeare to Hera Lindsay Bird – Actions & Travels is an engaging introduction to how poetry works. Ten chapters look at simplicity and resonance, imagery and form, letters and odes, and much more. In Actions & Travels Anna Jackson explains how we can all read (and even write) poetry.

See Anna's reading list for Actions & Travels over on her website:



Anna Jackson is a New Zealand poet who grew up in Auckland and now lives in Island Bay, Wellington. She has a DPhil from Oxford and is an associate professor in English literature at Victoria University of Wellington.

Anna made her poetry debut in AUP New Poets 1 before publishing six collections with Auckland University Press. Her most recent book, Pasture and Flock: New and Selected Poems, gathers work from her previous collections as well as twenty-five new poems. The book includes poems from Catullus for Children and I, Clodia, the two collections that engage with the work of Catullus, as well as poems about badminton, billiards, salty hair, takahē, head lice, indexing, proof-reading, hens, truth and beauty.

As a scholar, Anna Jackson is the author of Diary Poetics: Form and Style in Writers’ Diaries 1915–1962 (Routledge, 2010) and, with Charles Ferrall, Juvenile Literature and British Society, 1850–1950: The Age of Adolescence (Routledge, 2009).



‘From a thoughtful and zestful poet, Actions & Travels is an open-minded look at one of humanity’s dazzling arts. Every sentence brims over with Anna Jackson’s informed love of poetry, its fun and its gravity, its wildness and its variety. Ranging from the ancient to the tweeted, she helps novices without sounding like a primer, and tosses the experts bones to quarrel over. If you read just one book about poetry this year, this should be the one.’ — Michael Hulse

‘In Actions & Travels, Anna Jackson hosts a literary dinner party that takes place both on the page and online. As she seats poets from different times and places next to one another and deftly draws them into conversation about their dress codes, values and behaviour, we find ourselves part of one big family arguing and communing in the eternal now of poetry.

If you’ve ever questioned what poems are up to when they “wax poetical”, or wondered what Keats and Hera Lindsay Bird would say to each other if they actually met, or what would happen if Patricia Lockwood and Tayi Tibble traded jokes on Twitter, this book is for you.

But really, anyone who reads poems or wants to write them will benefit from eavesdropping on the lively and engaging dialogues in Actions & Travels, and trying out the writing prompts that follow.’  — Chris Price



'It is accessible, yet superbly researched; straightforward, yet deeply based in emotional connectivity. As a reader of poetry, this is only going to serve to enhance the experience, and for those who do not currently know the idyllic state that one can be transported to through the reading of poetry (as with the appreciation of any art form), they can find an entry point through the explanations this book.' — Chris Reed for NZ Booklovers


'What Jackson wants, as I see it, is not to argue for her readings or her distinctions and groupings as fundamental or unassailable—simply reasonable and appreciative. What I think she wants most is for readers, whatever they decide about a given poem, to be touched by poetry and to engage with it.' — Brian Walpert for the Academy of New Zealand Literature