Freegard, Janis

Freegard, Janis

Information

residence
Wellington
Primary publisher
Auckland University Press
Rights enquiries
Auckland University Press, phone: +64 9 373 7528; email: press@auckland.ac.nz; or email the author at janis.freegard@actrix.co.nz
Website
https://janisfreegard.com/

In Brief

Janis Freegard is a poet and fiction writer whose writing is imbued with scientific imagery and verbal playfulness. She won the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Award in 2001 for her story ‘Mill’. She has had numerous works published locally and internationally in magazines and anthologies. In 2008 she was one of three poets to feature in AUP New Poets 3 (Auckland University Press) and her debut poetry collection, Kingdom Animalia: the Escapades of Linnaeus, was published in 2011. Her debut novel, The Year of Falling, was published in 2015, as well as another collection of poetry The Glass Rooster.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Freegard, Janis (1963– ) is a poet and fiction writer who lives in Wellington. She studied botany and plant ecology at university and her writing is distinguished by its use of scientific imagery and its verbal playfulness. She received the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Award in 2001 for her story ‘Mill’. In 2002 she received a Creative New Zealand grant to develop her writing and since then has had numerous works published locally and internationally in magazines and anthologies such as The Listener, Landfall, Poetry NZ, JAAM, Best New Zealand Poems 2011, The North (UK) and Magma (UK).

In 2008 she was one of three poets to feature in AUP New Poets 3 (Auckland University Press). ‘Like prowling lemurs, Janis Freegard’s poems seem ever poised to spring into imagery, irony, comedy or absurdity,’ wrote Richard Reeve in his review of the collection in Landfall (May 2009).

Her debut poetry collection, Kingdom Animalia: the Escapades of Linnaeus, was published in 2011 by Auckland University Press. Reviewer Paula Green wrote that ‘Freegard has glued the breach between poetry and science with lyricism, inventiveness, research, playfulness and miniature bursts of storytelling’ (NZ Herald, November 2011). Another reviewer described the book as ‘an intriguing debut collection of lively and enjoyable poems’ (Sarah Jane Barnett, Landfall, November 2011).

Freegard's poetry chapbook, The Continuing Adventures of Alice Spider, was published by US-based publisher, Anomalous Press in 2013. Paula Green reviewed the book and wrote that it is 'a treasure box of sentences; economical, wry, agile. You could easily employ spider-like tropes to talk about the writing: the way it deftly weaves detail to unsettle the everyday. The way the poems spin a fine web that shimmer and shine with the glaze of a storyteller. The way the book as a whole embraces the simplicity and the beauty of a spider’s web. There is repetition. There is a love of language...'.

Her first novel, The Year of Falling, was published Mākaro Press in 2015. In his review in the NZ Herald, David Hill said ‘it's an immediately readable book. The crisp, crackly prose kicks things along. There are nice little leavenings of irony. Freegard controls a substantial cast adroitly, and makes you care about each one of them, even loathsome Randall and bubble-brained Bailey’ (NZ Herald, September, 2015). ‘Richly peopled and companioned by an absorbing plot, Janis Freegard's The Year of Falling is a superb first foray into novel writing’ is how Siobhan Harvey described it in the Dominion Post (Stuff, September, 2015).

Her collection of poems The Glass Rooster was published by the Auckland University Press in 2015. It was reviewed by Elizabeth Morton on Beattie’s Book Blog who described it as ‘poetry with ants in its pants. It will take you down roads less travelled, cart you to places on the outskirts of your comfort zone, plunge you subterranean, deliver you to the Sphinx’ (June 2016). In NZ Books, Charlotte Simmonds described it as ‘a strong, mature, vivid collection of poetry with warmth and impact.’

Freegard writes that she started work on Reading the Signs during the Ema Saiko Poetry Fellowship she held at NZ Pacific Studio in 2014. The poetry sequence in the book deals with loss and recovery, climate change and gender fluidity. It was published in 2020 by The Cuba Press.

On Poetry Shelf, Paul Green writes “It is warming to read, this book of dreaming, of signs, of being. I imagine it as a prism in the hand that shifts in the light.”

MEDIA LINKS AND CLIPS

  • Janis Freegard's website
  • Profile on the AUP website
  • Freegard's poem in Best New Zealand Poems 2011
  • RNZ's interview on her debut novel The Year of Falling
  • Freegard interviews three characters from her debut novel The Year of Falling
  • Several poems from The Glass Rooster, and a conversation about Animalia on RNZ

Updated July 2022.