Judy Brown was born in Cheshire and grew up in Northumberland and Cumbria. She studied English at Cambridge and Newcastle and has worked as a lawyer in London and Hong Kong. She now works part-time and lives in South London and in Derbyshire.
Judy’s first collection, Loudness (Seren, 2011) has just been published and was shortlisted for the Forward/Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection.
Her earlier pamphlet, Pillars of Salt (Templar Poetry) was a winner in Templar’s first pamphlet competition. Judy won the Manchester Poetry Prize in 2010, the Poetry London Competition in 2009 and the Poetry Society’s Hamish Canham Prize in 2005. Her poems have also appeared in The Guardian, the Forward Books of Poetry 2006 and 2012 and the anthologies Best British Poetry 2011 (Salt, 2011) and Identity Parade: New British and Irish Poets (Bloodaxe, 2010) (both edited by Roddy Lumsden).
“Judy Brown’s beautiful first collection of poetry is called Loudness. A straightforward manner and a gift for ironic humour belie the artful complexities and the exacting observations evident in her work.
Titles like ‘The ExPats’, ‘The P45’, ‘The Crash’, kick start edgy narratives featuring characters who will suffer for their modern sins. Alternatively there are also disquisitions on colour, perception, ex-angels, spontaneous combustion and other mysterious phenomena. This baroque quality, along with her sudden modulations of tone and register, and a keenly sensuous appreciation of the physical world, is reminiscent of the metaphysical poets. She is an outstanding and original new voice in modern poetry.”
Pillars of Salt reviewed
“The poems are layered with intricate, precise observations, often from surprising and innovative perspectives… There is a seriousness of craft here, but the poetry is not without humour; a quiet irony or a dark thread of mischief often lurks just below the surface …”
– Jan Fortune-Wood, Envoi (Issue 146)
“In Pillars of Salt … – a collection of poems on subjects as ostensibly diverse as eating chocolate on the London Eye, Italian renaissance art, balding and email messages, and which range in diction from meditative musing through knowing irony to dream logic and the inner pride of dogs – it’s hard to pin down exactly what characterises a Judy Brown poem.
Her writing is direct and sensuous, alive to colour, touch, and above all, sound.”
– Kate Bingham, Poetry London (Autumn 2007)
“Her work is accomplished, showing real confidence. On occasion she dares to end her poems with oblique and knowing patter … Brown writes wittily about domestic situations … and what pushes her work about the crowd is a deft handling of registers …”
– Andrew Neilson, Magma (Summer 2007)
After bad news, and its pulled-back fist,
flows in a sound that’s not a sound. It’s not
the brain’s tide beating blood in propped
and shored-up workings, not the tapestried
texture of attended silence, the goffering
of quiet air folding and unfolding
in a house where nothing is happening.
After bad news, you tell the seconds,
hungry for the hurrying thunder
that never comes. Instead, a chemical fizz
fills the ears, before the descaling. An angel
rides the stirrup and anvil, spurring on the drum,
works like wild weather in wet sheets,
flapping and cracking the body’s flat muscles.
Long after the bad news, when it’s bedded in,
you notice most clearly the mild loudness
of the not-so-old man in the foot tunnel,
drumming and drumming and biting his mouth.
The posed coins in his blue cloth
are tiny, like a cast handful of earbones.
from Loudness (Seren, 2011).
Read more of Judy’s work at poetry p f.