Pam Brown

The reader of Stasis Shuffle is immediately confronted with the collection’s naming convention. Titles of poems and sections are parenthesised, for example, ‘(best before)’, ‘(weevils)’, ‘(& then). More than simple stylisation, this convention suggests that every poem is a fragment, a meander through consciousness. The first poem, ‘(best before)’, begins ‘liberated / from the drudgery / of usefulness’, a quote from Walter Benjamin. From there, Stasis Shuffle wanders flâneur-style through language, politics, and many different kinds of plant life. The central arc of Stasis Shuffle, however, is its self-consciousness about subjectivity and process. ‘(best before)’ asks ‘is your slowly accreting poem / morphing into a larger cloud yet’? As the collection unfolds, poems begin to comment on themselves and the writing process.

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Endings & Spacings by Pam Brown & >>> & || (accelerations and inertias) by Dan Disney

by
January–February 2022, no. 439

‘Endings & Spacings’ opens with a confession: after several decades of ‘making connections / through strings of words’, Pam Brown is no closer to answering the question, ‘what does a poet / do’? In interviews, Brown tends to describe writing poetry as a kind of ‘benign compulsion’, an engagement with the world that must be critical to be interesting but that ‘can’t answer questions any better than anything else’, as she asserted in Meanjin in 2001 and has resolutely maintained ever since. In her latest collection, Endings & Spacings, even this benign compulsion – ‘dwindling now’ – comes under threat, its benignity troubled by the resemblance between arranging lines on the page and the curation of fragments in a virtual ‘museum / of imperial plunder’.

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Sydney-based poet and editor Toby Fitch has spent much of the last decade traversing the field of radical French modernist poets, especially Arthur Rimbaud and Guillaume Apollinaire. That engagement ignited Fitch’s imagination. He began inverting, recombining, mistranslating, and mimicking their techniques in his own poetry. In his new collection, Sydney Spleen, he has made a sophisticated, fresh move that enhances his signature playfulness and tongue-in-cheek poetic antics.

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A few pages into this collection we read the line: ‘all of it is lies’. ‘It’ signals the irritation that motivates much of Pam Brown’s writing in click here for what we do. Memory, in these poems, is a problem. Brown’s is very much a poetry of movement: she desires to stay light and mobile, not to be detained by memory ...

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ABR: Which poets have most influenced you? PB: Influence is transient – it changes all the time. I can’t always pinpoint it directly or say which poets might be most influential on my poems. From the mid-1960s I read everything – the French, the Dadaists, the Eastern Europeans, Vladimir Mayakovsky. Gertrude Stein reigned supreme for me ...

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I love the whole world
          she said,
  without sounding
   corporate

           (Agnes Martin
                          said it) ...

to think the
       future

                               I've
&nb ...

on the first night
coo coo cooroo
falsetto blues singer

       blinded by the hurt
       coz I'm
       blinded by the hurt

troubled refrain 
slowly building
backing singers

       it's intersubjective
 &nb ...

Pam Brown

Pam Brown is a dedicated professional amateur who has published many books, chapbooks and an e-book. She has been actively involved in a diverse gamut of poetic activity since the 1970s. P ...

for C.                 
                                        d, undrilled
                                     rock
    Had it been
wanted                       how had  

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