Dear Deliria by Pam Brown. Salt Publishing.

Reviewed by Naomi White
Pam Brown’s Dear Deliria, dating from 1!" to #""#, isn’t $hronologi$ally organi%ed or
grou&ed by original &ubli$ation, thus offering a survey of Brown’s wor' without bo(ing in
the &ie$es. Brown &ur&osely leaves out an introdu$tion, allowing her wor' to e(ist
without $ommentary. )his seems a&&ro&riate be$ause of the wor'’s fas$inatingly
autobiogra&hi$al feel. *n +,yes on Potatoes- she &ulls the reader into a glim&se of her
own life.
downloading /aurie’s &oems
&ages flutter off the &rinter tray
and get mi(ed u& with bits of Bolton’s.
* wal' out to loo' u& at the vast s'y
lit by a huge full moon the night
is tran0uil everyone’s indoors wat$hing
$ra& tv the muffled sounds of soa&s
1owever, unli'e many so2$alled $onfessional &oets, Brown doesn’t waste words. Rather,
she a&&ears an(ious in her &resentation of her life and thoughts. )he last stan%a of +)he
ing thing- is refreshing. +ta'ing so long 3 to write the boo'22 3 only to be 3 remaindered.-
Be$ause Brown writes about a &oet struggling to finish her own thoughts, her &oems are
a&&ealing and a$$essible. By outwardly loo'ing at herself from a reader’s &ers&e$tive,
Brown avoids &retension and dida$tism. )he normal$y and non2a$ademi$ s$ene of
+4ontreal,- in whi$h Brown writes, +* for$e myself to write this, 3 to stay awa'e while
doing so 3 in the &ubli$ library on Saturday afternoon,- offers a fresh alternative to the
stateliness of highbrow a$ademia.
Des&ite Brown’s resistan$e to being &egged as an a$ademi$, her &oems ma'e a $lear
statement about her self2&er$e&tion22as a &oet first, as a woman and 5ustralian se$ond.
1er audien$e seems to be at the forefront of her attention in many of her &oems, as in
+,yes on Potatoes-. +but should * $ontinue my &oem will be $onstru$ted 3 as 6funny’
li'e my in$lusion of some notes on a reading.- )his self2$ons$ious a&&eal to the reader
to withhold 7udgment on her wor' is engaging be$ause it &lays into the $onfessional feel
of Brown’s &oetry. 1er wor' also has a feminist slant, but the women she mentions in her
wor' are almost always &oets. 8or e(am&le, 5li$e Notley, li'e Brown, found a voi$e for
9the new woman9 in her own time, but her first aim was to ma'e a &oem rather than
&resent a &latform of so$ial reform. :nli'e Notley, however, Brown’s struggles do not
$ome from gender ine0uality, but from an internal struggle to find the language she feels
is ne$essary. *n +8ifty28ifty- she writes, +* am dimly 3 7ealous of 3 5li$e Notley 6who now
&ermanently lives 3 in Paris’; 3 something 3 * wish 3 my notes 3 might say.-
)he sub7e$t matter of Brown’s &oems is often entren$hed in the routines of everyday life.
She varies the setting, swit$hing between the suburban3urban and the &astoral, and she
refers to $ity life in +Sheer veneer.-
the biggest buildings
full of
$hinless wonders
who drown
in their own
useless evenings
they move
li'e $ows
in big tu(edos
1ere, Brown develo&s a $yni$al tone through her unflattering images. )he word
+wonders- dri&s with sar$asm and disdain, es&e$ially following the unattra$tive modifier
+$hinless.- *n the midst of the urban sub7e$t matter, she in$or&orates rural des$ri&tors,
su$h as des$ribing the businessmen as $ows. 5$$ording to <ohn =insella, in an interview
with Brown in <a$'et, +)he mundane and the illuminated mor&h together te(tually in
>Brown’s? wor' and the bri$'layer is not su&erior to the musi$ian, or vi$e versa.- Be$ause
the rural image of $ows and the urban image of tu(edos are e0ually un&leasant, Brown
does not setting one above the other.
)he mundane holds &ower for Brown, and she devotes a $onsiderable amount of time to
it. mo$'ing it, beautifying it, and showing it in her own daily life. +*n :ltimo- ta'es vivid
sna&shots of daily urban life, &laying with the notion of the value of everyday routine.
u& to the third floor
for a lean
@ a musing22
what $olour’s my &osture
what $olour’s my &osture
here’s the view
from the bal$ony 22
grey and dar'er grey
bri$' wall offi$e
windows $om&uter
s$reens @ tv s$reens
nearly always on
Brown finds energy in her use of dualites. She seems to struggle with o&&osing ideals of
urban and rural, a$ademi$ and domesti$, foreign and familiar. Not only does she &resent
o&&osing images, but her style $reates another layer of duality. *n +5 life trans$endent-
Brown uses alliteration to enhan$e the duality. +between si&s 3 of 3 &or&hyry &earl,-
+fa$similes 3 float around 3 the firmament,- +&la$e the &oem.- )hrough the re&etition in
sounds, she furthers the idea of doubleness in the &oem. )o stand out against the e$ho
of the alliteration, she also uses $ontrasting abstra$tions, su$h as + you are 3 glad and
sorry 3 all at on$e,- to em&hasi%e the tension between two o&&osites. )hrough this,
Brown avoids &la$ing 7udgment and is able to find beauty in the $ontrasting ideas.
)he intima$y and forward nature of Brown’s &oetry is immediately in$lusive. ,ven
re$reational readers of &oetry will find &leasure in Dear Deliria, but it is by no means
dumbed down or without dee&er literary merit. Rather, Brown finds a distin$t &la$e that
in$ludes all readers, inviting them into her &oems and, through her writing, her life.
)his review first a&&eared in Aerse, De$ember #""B