True Thoughts follows the success of Pam Brown’s last major collection Dear Deliria published in late 2002 and awarded the NSW Premier’s Prize for Poetry in 2004.
This new work collects twenty-three poems written between 2002 and 2007 in a period of global instability and military irruption. Even so, this collection of deceptively minimalist poems is anchored in the everyday and moderated by a self-conscious slant to it. The poems move with a clear agency through many realms, both actual and metaphysical. The actual includes sharply delineated streetscapes, imagined havens, distant places, encounters with friends, ideas, history, and a kind of fragmented urbanity. The metaphysical engages multilayered states of being and, sometimes, simple moods.
Brown’s writing is deftly ironic, and affects a sense of the ludicrous in the face of mortality, as the poems attempt to fathom the question ‘how to live?’ alongside the larger one ‘how to live now?’
‘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 revving it with glee, skill and a wry look at the road – language, poetry – ahead and behind.
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’
’ —Michael Brennan
‘There are many ways to peel an onion: sharp knife and tears; under water like your mother taught you; surreptitiously, creeping in, layer by layer; or with sunglasses on. And cunning poet Pam Brown knows them all. There they are, those devastatingly onion-like little poems, with furled skins and layers, offering up biting street-scapes and cafés, half-remembered far-away places, distant friends, rock & roll, and lost, ordinary cities; that deceptive, seemingly autobiographical voice cruising between wit, boredom, disillusion, nostalgia, paranoia, irony. Always irony. Always the slippery poetics of knowledges warping, even as the poet obsessively scans the texts for narrative.’ —Lyn McCredden
‘Brown’s poems are like single channels that can transmit more than one signal simultaneously. The poems are streams of data and highly arranged works.’ —David McCooey