James Brown’s poems have been widely published in New Zealand and overseas. He describes himself as 'a Sunday poet who fell in with the wrong crowd'.
His most recent book is Selected Poems (2020). Previous books include Floods Another Chamber (2017); Warm Auditorium (2012); The Year of the Bicycle (2006), which was a finalist in the Montana New Zealand Book Awards 2007; Favourite Monsters (2002); Lemon; and Go Round Power Please (1996), which won the Best First Book Award for Poetry. His poems are widely anthologised and frequently appear in the annual online anthology Best New Zealand Poems.
James has been the recipient of several writing fellowships, including the 1994 Louis Johnson New Writers Bursary and a share of the 2000 Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowship. In 2001 he was the Canterbury University Writer in Residence, and in 2002 he was one of four New Zealand writers shortlisted for the inaugural Prize in Modern Letters. James was the Victoria University of Wellington Writer in Residence in 2004.
He edited The Nature of Things: Poems from the New Zealand Landscape (Craig Potton, 2005), the literary magazine Sport from 1993 to 2000, andBest New Zealand Poems 2008.
More recently, in 2018, James created what he calls 'a transcribed poem' out of Herbert Morrison's famous radio commentary of the Hindenburg disaster: 'Hindenburg: a transcribed poem'.
James lives in Wellington with his partner and two daughters. He works as an editor and teaches the Poetry Workshop at the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University of Wellington.
Praise for Selected Poems (2020)
'Apart from the reflexive self-deprecation of the schoolboy nerd, two other things struck me as I worked through and around and back through this book. How gifted Brown is at the craft of poetry, the game of word and sounds on the page that are tidy and tight and clever and cool. And also how he lifts aside that cleverness to show us the tender inner self, the moist soft core of James Brown and his world.' —Anna Livesey, Academy of New Zealand Literature
Praise for Warm Auditorium (2012)
‘The finding of poetry in unlikely places expands our concept of what poetry is – if a poem can be found in the heart of an ATM, where can it not be found? . . . engaging, funny, sometimes maddening, and for all their anti-poetry interventions, oddly lyrical.’ —Tim Upperton, New Zealand Listener
Praise for Lemon (1999)
‘This year’s most fabulous book cover encloses what is, for me, possibly the year’s best New Zealand book. James Brown’s latest book of poems, Lemon, has teeth and claws, poetic sensibility, and stimulating peculiarities.’ —Elizabeth Knox, New Zealand Listener
‘You may not be using it to blond your hair this summer, but James Brown’s Lemon is remarkably versatile. These poems are political and personal and cryptic and funny and strange, and their freshness is guaranteed.’ —Kate Camp, New Zealand Listener