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Winner of the Kenneth Slessor Poetry Prize 2004. Pam Brown’s poems are insomniacs in the sense that Rimbaud might have given the term: they are totally awake at all times. Zero slack, zero fuzz. Just total, delirious, desirous, and indelible attention to the real situations we find ourselves, implausibly but inextricably, thrown into.
Though it is the case that most people hold their own truths to be self-evident and their own deliria to be very dear indeed, it takes a poet of Brown’s caliber to break those narcissistic “holds” and release us into the lucid delights of a consciousness that long ago “lost all interest / in repetition” and set about building its singular sensations into fragilely-poised assemblages held together only but totally by the crazy glue of a bricoleur’s imagination.
Brown’s poetry addresses us with an uncanny intimacy that fast becomes addictive. There is no choosing between her poems, because each one has the air about it of an irreplaceable friend: just the one, in fact, whom you'd find yourself happiest to see at just the occasion the poem simultaneously makes and marks.
Her powers of observation recall James Schuyler at his most crystalline; her line matches William Carlos Williams at his highest and most surprising resolutions; and her stabbing vernacular wit and gift for the well-timed exclamation recalls Frank O’Hara in his giddier – high on translated Mayakovsky – moments.
That her poetry composes itself in such company, and brings Alice Notley, Nina Hagen, Eileen Myles, Patti Smith and others into the semiotic chorus to boot, gives to every page of her writing the kind of accompaniment that an intense café conversation between lovers – concentrated by their desire but not yet alone in it – might have.
A quick wit in love at the thick of things: it’s what we’ve needed from poetry all along, and it’s what we find in Pam Brown’s Dear Deliria.
Steve Evans, University of Maine
‘Brown is an immensely interesting poet … because of an intellectual quality about her work that is a strange mix of lyricism and critique. … Perhaps it is no surprise that the sub-genre that is so often tiresome in the hands of many professional poets – the travel poem. of the things-I-saw-when-at-the-Oz-Council-flat-in-Paris poem – is, in Brown’s hands, the source of some of the best pieces in Dear Deliria.’ —David McCooey, Australian Book Review
‘The sound of Australian demotic, worked by a poetic lapidarist of mandarin-like reserve and refinement fuels these poems on interesting journeys to nowhere. Bon mots weave through the text like skateboarders through a plaza. Pam Brown’s poetry could convince you that ‘nowhere’ is the only place to be.’ —Kerry Leves, Australian Book Review
‘Pam Brown’s school of poetry, if one can call it that, might be described as ‘narrative imagism’, an amalgam of the modernists’ accentuation of the image and a postmodern talkiness that is itself the basis for a curriculum.’ —Susan M. Schultz, Heat
‘Pam Brown’s poems buzz with wit; she is the sharpest and yet the most gracious of us all. For her the dance of the intellect is more than a figure of speech. She is the Mina Loy for the twenty-first century.’ —Laurie Duggan
‘Brown wavers between “thing” and “think” emphasizing the material in language, even as she builds meditations with it – on work, postcoloniality, and Patti Smith … Born out of “this/ shambling/ contingency” it feels “Good to be back” – where contingency finds its momentary, certain beauty.’ —Susan M. Schultz