Sunday, April 6, 2014

Pam Brown Authentic Local (SOI3 Modern Poets, 2010)

very slightly edited extract from a club sandwich review
by Les Wicks in Famous Reporter #42 , February, 2011

Late last year Pam Brown started a bushfire with her blog the deletions. She questioned the uncritical acclamation of what some claim is a "new Australian lyricism". Over the course of the weeks that followed we were treated to a rich discourse of wildly differing views often focusing on lazy reviewing, inherent conflicts of interest (particularly amongst academics and those who study with them), gender in the 21st century, the effect of campus based writing courses and where writers stand within the spectrum of the various camps. Many raised the point that most of us have a voice that has elements of the Lyric, L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E etc. Ours is a "mongrel" inheritance, we are free to pick whatever rags and ribbons that we like. Other disciplines are beginning to formally study intuition and I think this is the rudder to so much good poetry coming out now irrespective of the poet’s chosen platform. That combined with veracity; maybe even ferocity sees a vital, engaged and engaging book.

Reading Pam Brown's latest book Authentic Local is a kind of market experience; we're almost guided to that analogy with several references to shopping within the book. The reader wanders the aisles/laneways of the poems, picks treasures that personally resonate whilst wandering past other explorations with barely a nod. However, I'm almost sure the next along at that stall will pick up something quite different. This is a catalogue of concepts and experience.

The poet's voice, for so many decades so masterful, continues to enrich and astonish the reader through its deft use of deceptively simple language successively put up then burnt away by the incandescent.

in a gadda da vida
and other stormy music


a million droplets,
                                                                  Dry Tropics

a semi-droop enfolds
	the golden lens
of the globe
	in a halogen headlight
	caressing a shining
		chromium bullbar

Authentic Localhas much commentary on the quotidian, but is full of marvellous surprises. In 'Polka Squares' a film on climate change is described as "a snuff doco". Brown asserts
     I want to come back as
      a false witness
                                         Self-Denial Never Lasts Long

At her mention of having had 36 addresses, I found myself counting my own (24), this is a classic example of Brown’s deft explorations across language, enticing us into reflection and recollection.

	randomised,	double blinded
	dose and duration,
			pin drip red

	it worked
                            for the rat
                                                                     Pin Drip Red
Age, health and loss are all explored with a mix of white-light objectivity and vulnerability. She has a remarkable sense of play on various poetic styles.

A personal favourite is the final poem in the book: elegant, privately public, universal. She offers:
     knowing nothing,
     the true thoughts
     of an amateur thinker

     with identity
     this is all
     I have to work with

Return to Reviews or the deletions or Pam Brown site