Pam Brown
(Australia, 1948)   
Pam Brown

Born in Victoria, growing up mainly in Queensland, Pam Brown has lived in Sydney since 1968. She has made her living variously and has taught writing, multi-media studies and filmmaking. Until 2007 she spent sixteen years engaging in the pleasures of classification as an employee in the life sciences library at the University of Sydney. She has been a poetry editor for various publications and is currently associate editor for Jacket2 magazine.

Since 1971, Pam Brown has published fourteen books and four chapbooks of poetry and prose, including This World. This Place, 50-50, Text thing and most recently Dear Deliria, which won the 2004 NSW Premier’s Award for Poetry. She has also written reviews, articles, film scripts and performance texts. Brown was the poetry editor of the national literary quarterly Overland magazine from 1997 to 2002. She is currently a contributing editor for the US-based literary annual Fulcrum and the online journal HOW. She has been a guest of the Festival Franco-Anglais de Poésie in Paris, France and the Berlin International Literature Festival in Germany. In 2003 she lived for six months in the Australia Council poets’ flat in Rome, Italy. During that time she was also a guest at the Australian Studies Centre at the University of Barcelona in Spain.

Pam Brown’s work reads like a particle map, a range of trajectories arcing off into open space, determining that space through movement, velocity and the inertia created, at times shocking associated bodies (poetic, politic, cultural, critical) into action and reaction. Her voice has maintained a consistent edge and vitality, and perhaps peculiarly enough for one often at odds with the lyric, or at least the lyrical, it has remained her voice. There is a distinctive intimacy to Brown’s work; a familiar persona at play, not just tinkering with the engine of language but opening the throttle and reving it with glee, skill and a wry look at the road – language, poetry – ahead and behind (‘those afternoons/ were arvos,/ when a tranny was a radio,/ smash repairs/ were panel-beating.).

Her work is local, takes on the hue and scape of her surroundings, shaded by an acute awareness of the shifting way language changes and so changes those surrounds, how fads fade and the dialect reflects the analect:

    20th century

    When the couch became a sofa
    We sat down in front of pay-TV
    & replaced our ‘hmmm’ with ‘wow’ –

    It’s all just clothes, makeup and hair.
    And as we were the tootlers
    we tootled along to the popular
    anytime anyplace big brown & orange
    inflatable bouncy castle to contest
    the awards for untrammeled enthusiasm.
(from Dear Deliria)

Brown’s gift for pastiche accompanies the possibility that the self is never anything much more than a daily work of bricolage. For that knowledge, Brown’s poetry never fails to give – and give generously with great humour and acuity – a critically appraised delight in the world. There is a ferocity to her wit guided by a gracious, ironic and optimistic self, at ease with the oddness of the world, deftly responding to the ever-surprising “ludicrous pageant/ of history” as with the critical faculties that engages it:

    in another time,
    over a light lunch
    Professor Jacques
    told me to expect
    a monograph
    on same-day service
    & I confided, as an editor,
    (as I am)
    that my main endeavour,
    aiming high,
    was to find,
    within a regularly
    stupefying wodge
    of writings,
    witty poems about, say,
    we smiled –
    “writing is such
      a mad game”
    he whispered.
(‘Aiming high’ from Dear Deliria)

© Michael Brennan

Ultradian rhythm
Do what
In Europe
This is all


Sureblock (1972)
Cocabola’s Funny Picture Book (1973)
Automatic Sad (1974)
Correspondences (1979)
Cafe Sport (1979)
Country & Eastern (1980)
Small Blue View (1982)
Selected Poems 1971-82 (1984)
Keep It Quiet (1987)
New & Selected Poems (1990)
This World. This Place. (1994)
Little Droppings (1994)
50-50 (1997)
My Lightweight Intentions (1998)
Drifting topoi (2000)
eleven 747 poems (2002)
Text thing (2002)
Dear Deliria (2003)
Let’s Get Lost (with Ken Bolton & Laurie Duggan) (2005)
Peel Me A Zibibbo (2006)
farout_library_software (with Maged Zaher) (2007)
True Thoughts (2008)                       
Authentic Local  (2010)
the meh of  z  z  z  z  (2010)
Sentimental (2010)
In My Phone (2011)

Pam Brown’s homepage

Pam Brown's blog:
David McCooey reviews 'Text thing' and 'Dear Deliria' in Australian Book Review:

Brian Henry reviews 'Dear Deliria' in Jacket magazine:

Naomi White reviews 'Dear Deliria' in Verse magazine :
Tim Wright Reviews ‘True Thoughts’ in Mascara Literary Review:
Ken Bolton reviews ‘True Thoughts’ in Southerly
Carl Harrison-Ford talks about ‘True Thoughts’ at Hat Hill Gallery:


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