Pamela Brown

Pamela Brown was born in Victoria, Australia in 1948. She grew up on military bases in Toowoomba and Brisbane, Queensland. Since 1968, she has mainly lived in Sydney with stints in the MacDonald Valley, the Blue & Dandenong Mountains, and Adelaide, where she worked with the Experimental Art Foundation (EAF). In the 1970s and 1980s Brown was involved in left-wing political activities. She earned a living in various ways and has been a silkscreenprinter, rock musician, and a film and video maker. In 1991 she taught Australian poetry at the Foreign Language University in Hanoi, Vietnam. She also taught Writing, Multimedia and Film-making. Since 1990 she has worked in the Life Sciences Library at the University of Sydney, and since 1997 she has been poetry editor for the Australian magazine »Overland«.

Since 1971 Brown has published a number of books of poetry and prose. She also writes reviews, essays, and has written screenplays and performance texts. Translations of her works have appeared in France, Italy, Croatia and Vietnam. »Being a poet in these late capitalist times is like using an hourglass rather than a digital watch« is how Brown once described her work. Many of her poems were written as a form of political protest and stand for a rejection of linearity: »I like to undermine (sneak up on) certainty, authority, power, and I never know if it works. After the A-bomb, linearity just has to be anachronistic.« The Australian’s poetry is marked by precise observations of her feelings and of her urban surroundings. Her style varies between extremely short lines, which often consist of only one word, and long, almost narrative structures. She describes her development towards the abstract thus: »Once we had ideas and then tried to find the vocabulary. Now I’m more interested in the vocabulary and finding the ideas to fit that.« Topics revealed by this search have a poetical tradition: love, death, everyday life, cities, travelling, art, literature. Her rich vocabulary often oriented to colloquial speech and the expressiveness of her melancholy on the one hand and ironic-parodistic pictures on the other hand, can’t help but strike as rather unusual.

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