Jennifer Maiden was born in 1949 in Penrith, New South Wales, where she still lives. After starting to publish in the late 1960s, she took a BA at Macquarie University, and has been an active presence in the Sydney literary scene for the past four decades. Her first UK publication, Intimate Geography: Selected Poems 1991-2010 (Bloodaxe Books, 2012) draws on four collections: Acoustic Shadow (Penguin Australia, 1993), Mines (Paper Bark, 1999), Friendly Fire (Giramondo, 2005) and Pirate Rain (Giramondo, 2010). She has published 15 other books of poetry in Australia along with two novels, the second of which, Play With Knives, was translated into German as Ein Messer im Haus (dtv, 1994). A new, revised edition of Play With Knives was published online as a free download by Quemar Press in 2016, followed by its previously unpublished sequel, Play With Knives: Two: Complicity, and a new verse and prose novel, Play With Knives: Three: George and Clare and the Grey Hat Hacker.
Her collection Liquid Nitrogen (Giramondo, 2012) won the C.J. Dennis Prize for Poetry and the overall Victorian Literary Award, and was shortlisted for the International Griffin Poetry Prize, the Australian Prime Minister's Awards, and the Judith Wright Calanthe Award. A chapbook of some of her new poems, The Violence of Waiting, was published by Vagabond Press in November, 2013. Drones and Phantoms, was published by Giramondo in 2014, and won the 2015 ALS Gold Medal. The Fox Petition followed from Giramondo in 2015. Her latest collection, The Metronome, was published as an ebook by Quemar Press in November 2016 with print publication following from Giramondo in February 2017.
Among her many accolades are the NSW Premier's Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry (she is the only writer to have won this three times, most recently for Pirate Rain), the C.J. Dennis Prize for Poetry, the Harri Jones Memorial Prize, the H.M. Butterly-F.Earle Hooper Award (University of Sydney), the Grenfell Henry Lawson Festival Prize, the FAW Christopher Brennan Award for lifetime achievement in poetry, Melbourne Age Poetry Book of the Year (twice), and Melbourne Age Book of the Year.
As well as writing and running writers' workshops with a variety of literary, community and educational organisations, she has co-written (with Margaret Cunningham) a manual of questions to facilitate writing by torture and trauma victims. She has had residencies at the Australian National University, the University of Western Sydney, Springwood High School and the New South Wales Torture and Trauma Rehabilitation Service, and has been awarded several Fellowships by the Australia Council.