David Brooks was born in Canberra but spent his earliest years in Greece and Yugoslavia, where his father was an immigration officer. At the Australian National University (1971-74) he was involved with Canberra Poetry magazine and in hand-press printing (he co-founded Open Door Press).
From 1975-1980, while pursuing his MA and PhD at the University of Toronto, he was overseas editor for New Poetry. His early poetry was published in the U.S. and Canada and he made extensive contacts with poets in both countries, working at different times with Galway Kinnell, Mark Strand, and the Czech Nobel laureate Czeslaw Milosz.
His first collection of poetry, The Cold Front (1983), was short-listed for the N.S.W. Premier’s Prize and won the Anne Elder Award. His first collection of short fiction, The Book of Sei (1985), was heralded in the National Times as the most impressive debut in Australian short fiction since Peter Carey’s The Fat Man in History. His acclaimed first novel, The House of Balthus (1995), was short-listed for the National Book Award and his second, The Fern Tattoo, for the 2008 Miles Franklin and Colin Roderick awards. Returning to poetry after an interval of twenty-two years, he has published three further collections, Walking to Point Clear (2005; short-listed for the Adelaide Festival Prize), Urban Elegies (2007), and The Balcony (2008; shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s and ACT Judith Wright awards), a collection of love poetry which the Sydney Morning Herald called ‘an electric performance’.
In 2008 he also published The Golden Boat, selected poems of Srecko Kosovel (‘the Slovenian Rimbaud’) translated with Bert Pribac (SALT, U.K.), and in 2009 a third novel, The Umbrella Club (University of Queensland Press; shortlisted for the Christina Stead award). In September 2011, he published The Sons of Clovis (also UQP), an extensive re-examination of the Ern Malley Hoax and its place in the long history of French influence in Australian poetry. His most recent work is the acclaimed novella The Conversation (UQP, 2012; see under ‘News’). He has also edited the Selected Poems and Selected Poetry & Prose of A.D. Hope (1992 and 2000, respectively).
A photographer, vegan and animal rights activist, he spends a small part of each year in a village in Istria (he is married to the Slovenian photographer and translator Teja Pribac), and the rest in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. Until early 2013 he taught Australian Literature and directed the graduate writing program at the University of Sydney, to which he is now attached as an Honorary Associate Professor. He is the co-editor, with Elizabeth McMahon, of the literary journal Southerly.