Jean Bleakney (née Kerr)
was born in Newry in 1956. Since 1991, she has worked part-time at a garden
centre in Carryduff, Belfast. She studied biochemistry at Queen’s University
Belfast and worked in medical research for eight years. Following the birth of
her second child, she chose to stay at home.
Fear and loathing of housework triggered an interest in gardening and, much to her surprise, the language of gardening. Having exhausted the appropriate section of the local library, she discovered, a few stacks along, Wendy Cope’s 'Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis'. Interest piqued, she began putting words together and, in 1993, she started attending the weekly writing workshop at Queen’s.
Her first collection of poems, The Ripple Tank Experiment, was published in 1999, followed by The Poet’s Ivy (2003) and Ions (2011). Her poems have appeared in various magazines including Poetry Ireland Review, The Rialto, THE SHOp, Metre, TLS and The Yellow Nib. Also online at several sites including Poetry Proper Vol, 2 , Poetry International and From The Fishouse.
She has appeared in many
The New North: Contemporary Poetry from Northern Ireland (2008) and (2011)
Magnetic North: The Emerging Poets (2006)
The New Irish Poets (2004)
The Blackbird’s Nest (2003)
A Conversation Piece: Poetry and Art (2002)
She was interviewed by John Brown for In The Chair: Interviews with Poets from Northern Ireland (2002).
Her poem 'Be Careful of the Lilies' was discussed in depth by John Redmond in the chapter entitled 'Diction' of his 'How To Write a Poem' (Wiley-Blackwell, 2005). The poem has also featured on the Speech and Drama Syllabus of the Royal Irish Academy of Music.