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The daughter of George Brown, an army warrant officer, and his wife Jeanette, Pam Brown was brought up by a great-aunt from the age of eighteen months until seven, because of her mother's illness. She then rejoined her family and lived on several Queensland army bases, finishing her schooling at Mitchelton High School, where she won a poetry prize in 1965.
Pam Brown became involved in the anti-Vietnam War protest movement, and at the age of twenty moved south, where she produced her first volume of poetry, Sureblock (1972). In the mid-1970s she was a bass player with the feminist rock band Clitoris Band. She always continued writing, supporting herself as, among other things, a screenprinter, postal worker, publishing assistant and teacher. In 1981 she moved from Sydney to Adelaide, where she worked at the Experimental Art Foundation, the Come Out youth arts festival and Artists' Week at the Adelaide Festival, 1982. She returned to Sydney in May 1982. She has lectured in film, video and studio research at the College of Fine Art, Sydney, and has worked at the Tin Sheds Art Workshop at Sydney University. In 1988 she produced As Much Trouble as Talking, co-written with Jan McKemmish, for a season at Belvoir St.Theatre and in 1989 she was Playwright-in-Residence at Sydney's Performance Space. She has also written for performance in collaboration with Elizabeth Drake, Carol Christie and Amanda Stewart.
In 1993 Brown was a guest of the Festival Franco-Anglais de Poesie in Paris, France and in 2001 she was a guest at the inaugural Internationales Literaturfestival Berlin in Germany. In 2001 she edited a series of four chapbooks for the independent Sydney publisher, Vagabond Press. She has written reviews and articles for various poetry journals and newspapers and her poetry has been widely published and reviewed in Europe and the United States. She has been poetry editor for Overland, associate editor of Jacket magazine, a contributing editor for the US-based literary annual Fulcrum and a member of the editorial advisory board for HOW2. Brown has given public readings of her work at numerous venues both in Australia and and has been a guest lecturer in various Australian institutions as well as in Hanoi, Vietnam and Potsdam, Germany.
'These offbeat, fragmentary yet often discursive poems were written over three years up to spring 2015. In part, they epitomize the absurdities of contemporary materialism. Pam Brown's well-practised scepticism dismantles monumental intent and splices the remains into a shrewd melange of imagery and thoughtful lyric complemented by playfulness. For Pam writing poetry is a habit, a disorganised ritual. Her poetic inventories begin in everyday bricolage. Real things interrupt the poems the same way thoughts and phrases do. You know - the fridge over there, the bus stop, surf music on a radio, a raisin squashed against a floor tile - always backgrounding a connection to the 'social' as the poems make political and personal associative links. Though disquiet is present it is usually temporary - an optimistic wit plays through this idiosyncratic poetry as a kind of placebo. But, in the end, Pam Brown simply lets the language do the work.' (Publication summary)
'"Pam Brown's work is fearless, acutely observant, witty and wry. She delights in the curiosities of the everyday, in notational sprezzatura, in the penetrating encapsulation of layers of time, chance and meaning with her twists of lexicon, diction and line break. This is a work of quotidian consternation, breaking through from irony to sheer fondness and painful shadows. She sees askew—and Home by Dark has its own poignant look at decades, bodies, and changes. Pam Brown is a wonderful writer, one of the scintillating wizards of Oz poetry." —Rachel Blau DuPlessis' (Publication summary)