Kurt Brown

Kurt Brown was the founding director of the Aspen Writers' Conference, now in its thirty-seventh year; founding director of Writers' Conferences & Centers (a national association of directors) now in its twentieth year; past editor of Aspen Anthology; and past president of the Aspen Writers' Foundation. He served on the board of Sarabande Books for many years, and is currently on the board of Poets House in New York.

His poems have appeared in many literary periodicals, including the Ontario Review, the Berkeley Poetry Review, the Southern Poetry Review, the Massachusetts Review, the Indiana Review, the Harvard Review, Ploughshares, Kansas Quarterly, Crazyhorse, and Rattapallax.

He was the editor of three annuals: The True Subject (Graywolf Press 1994), Writing it Down for James (Beacon Press 1995), and Facing the Lion (Beacon Press 1996) which gather outstanding lectures from writers' conferences and festivals as part of the Writers on Life & Craft Series. He is also the editor of Drive, They Said: Poems about Americans and Their Cars (1994), Verse & Universe: Poems About Science and Mathematics (1998), and co-editor with his wife, poet Laure-Anne Bosselaar, of Night Out: Poems About Hotels, Motels, Restaurants & Bars (1997), all from Milkweed Editions. In addition, he is the editor of The Measured Word: On Poetry & Science, from the University of Georgia Press in 2001, and a co-editor of the tribute anthology for the late William Matthews, Blues for Bill, published by University of Akron Press in 2005. He is also co-editor of Conversation Pieces: Poems that Talk to Other Poems, and Killer Verse: Poems of Murdera and Mayhem, both from Alfred A. Knopf (Everyman's Library Pocket Series, 2007).

He authored six chapbooks: The Lance & Rita Poems, which won the Sound Post Press competition in Columbia, Missouri (1994); Recension of the Biblical Watchdog, which won the Anamnesis Poetry Chapbook Competition (1997); A Voice in the Garden: Poems of Sandor Tack published by Beyond Baroque Literary / Arts Center (1998); Mammal News (Pudding House Press 2000); Fables from the Ark, which won the Woodland Press Poetry Chapbook Competition (2002), and Sincerest Flatteries: A Little Book of Imitations, published by Tuplelo Press in the Masters' Series (2007)

His first full-length collection of poems, Return of the Prodigals, was published by Four Way Books in 1999. A second collection, More Things in Heaven and Earth, was published by Four Way Books in 2002. A third collection, Fables from the Ark, which won the 2003 Custom Words Prize, was published by WordTech, and a fourth, Future Ship, was published by Red Hen Press in 2007, followed by a second volume, No Other Paradise, in 2010.

A book of translations, with his wife Laure-Anne Bosselaar, entitled The Plural of Happiness: Selected Poems of Herman de Coninck, was published in the Field Translation Series in 2006. He is currently working on translating a book-length selection of the poetry of Louis Aragon.

He taught poetry workshops and craft classes at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York for many years and was recently the McEver Visiting Chair in Writing at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Georgia and a visiting writer at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah.

All Books

No Other Paradise

Kurt Brown

Publication Date: April 1, 2010

$18.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-488-7


“‘I am going to keep death from entering this poem,’ Kurt Brown writes in No Other Paradise. These masterful poems are taut with the power of the unspoken. Their urgency is visceral. If the problem of our century is Hegel’s dilemma of cognition and the will—the more we know, the less we can act—Brown is searching for a knowledge so immediate, so free of rhetoric, that our scary responsibilities will open the world up rather than paralyzing us. With a clear eye, zapping wit, and a mind haunted by the unfathomable future, Brown is creating fascinating poetry whose horizons lie far beyond the self. No Other Paradise leaves us in that strangest, richest moment, the human present.”— D. Nurkse

“At the climax of Kurt Brown’s evocative meditations on everything from nature and news to baloney, there is his astonishing title poem. A walk through a teeming cityscape inhabited by the memorable likes of Miss Donna, “Mystical Astrologist,” this Whitmanesque celebration of the turbulent here-and-now powerfully conveys Brown’s vision of the fleeting, sensory moment, a view summed up in his echoing line: don’t let go.”— Kimiko Hahn

Future Ship

Kurt Brown

Publication Date: January 1, 2008

$17.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1597090728


The poems in Future Ship are largely autobiographical in the sense that they are based on personal experiences from childhood and adolescence when the personality is still in a molten form and being shaped by events and experiences that leave a lasting mark on the adult sensibility. The term “autobiographical” is slightly misleading, as any poet knows personal material exists to be molded and transformed according to the needs of the poem. So imagination is the midwife of the past, and whatever actually happened is colored by time, memory, and the exigencies of art. In order to access material which is essentially narrative in nature, and produce poetry rather than short fiction, it was necessary to adopt a form that allowed for flexibility both spacious enough to allow the narrative to develop, yet controlled enough to create some tension in the lines. So the form of alternating long lines with short lines was adopted to answer this requirement. The short lines are lines themselves, and not indented phrases clipped off the ends of the longer lines in order to fit into the marginal format of the page. After allowing the narrative to stretch out in the longer lines, the short lines are meant to act as pivots, or fulcrums, that propel the reader on to the each next long line. They are also meant to supply pauses, breathing spaces, in the extended narrative carried by the longer lines. Other poems in Future Ship are more traditional in lineation, but all the poems, in one way or another, are meant to serve the main theme of how the past informs the present, which then points directly toward the future the trope being a ship that arrives finally to voyage away containing all the accumulated facts, events, and characters that have marked a life. So the self is imagined as a kind of ark, bearing a lifetime’s experiences into the future. One hopes, of course, that the closer one gets to personal experience if it is real and honestly felt the more it will become universal and represent, in some way, the experience of others.