David Brooks

novelist, poet and essayist

Category: Uncategorized

Recent and Forthcoming

Turin: Approaching Animals, published by Brandl&Schlesinger (Australia) and Blue Books (USA and world, forthcoming)

Animal Dreams, 17 essays on contemporary literature, thought and policy, published by Sydney University Press, 2021.

The Grass Library will shortly appear in a North American edition, published by Ashland Creek Press (Oregon).

‘Writing Animals’ (essay) was published in the November/December 2019 ‘Activism’ issue of the Kenyon Review  (USA) edited by John Kinsella and Rita Dove.

‘The Rats of Lord Howe: What kind of Biodiversity is Achieved through Biocide?’ (essay) appeared on the ABC Religion and Ethics page on July 12, 2019.

The Pozzo Sonnet: Rilke and the Killing of the Doves’ (essay) was published in Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus, ed. Hannah Vandegrift Eldridge and Luke Fischer (Oxford University Press, 2019).

KANGAROOS – the 100 DAYS PROJECT: Over a period of one hundred days in late 2017 and early 2018 David wrote and/or curated 100 posts concerning the historical treatment of kangaroos and the predicament of kangaroos in contemporary Australia. These posts, and some exquisite photography, can be accessed here.


vienna 015 crop

In 2018 David retired, after almost twenty years, from his position as co-editor of Southerly. His former colleagues at the journal organised a festschrift. Edited by Elizabeth McMahon and Michelle Hamadache, this appeared, late in 2018, as Southerly 78/1. It includes essays and memoirs by Judith Beveridge, Tim Curnow, Michelle Hamadache, Vrasidas Karalis, Aashish Kaul, John Kinsella, Uli Krahn, Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, and M.G. Michael, and poetry and fiction by Michelle Cahill, Michael Crane, Brook Emery, Kevin Hart, John Scott, Christine Townend, John Watson and others. Copies can be ordered and its table of contents sampled at http://southerlyjournal.com.au/store/


Open House CD

CD Cover crop

Drums Records in Melbourne have just (April 2019) released a CD of David reading poems from his 2015 collection Open House. Copies can supposedly be ordered from [ http://drumsrecords.godaddysites.com ] (good luck with that!).


The Grass Library


David’s The Grass Library will be officially released by Brandl & Schlesinger on August 1. The publishers have described the book as ‘A philosophical and poetic journey recounting the author’s relationship with his four sheep and other animals in his home in the Blue Mountains. Both memoir and eloquent testament to animal rights.’

Early readers have been very enthusiastic:

Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, author of When Elephants Weep, has said that it is One of the most beautifully written books about animals I have ever read. I know of nothing else like it published in this or any other country. Deep, sensitive, charming, instructive and above all, humble. I cannot imagine anyone reading it without coming away in some profound sense altered.

Geordie Williamson has called it a beautiful meditation on animality … a very special and important book.

and Christine Townend, founder of Animal Liberation, has said that it is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the minds of non-human animals.

Advance/review copies can be ordered from [ https://www.brandl.com.au/ ]


‘A Critique of Pure Reason’ (essay)

‘A Critique of Pure Reason’ was published on-line by the ABC’s Religion and Ethics Report in late December 2018. The essay comprises four sections from Turin: Approaching Animals, a set of meditations approaching completion. It was accompanied by the ABC’s re-publication, with a new commentary, of David’s poem ‘Silent Night’, and a one-hour conversation, broadcast on Radio National on Christmas morning, between David, Scott Stephens, and Danielle Celermajer.

The essay may be read at:

[ https://www.abc.net.au/religion/critique-of-pure-reason-about-animals/10615560 ].

‘Silent Night’ may be read at:

[ https://www.abc.net.au/religion/silent-night-a-poem-for-christmas-eve/10641718 ].

The interview/conversation may be heard at:

[ https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/breakfast/0710-0800/10611988 ].


Recent Interviews

ABC Radio National, ‘Late Night Live’ with Philip Adams, 21 September 2011


ABC Classic FM, ‘Mornings’ with Margaret Throsby, 3 November 2011


The Sons of Clovis

(from the press release)

The Sons of Clovis is an astounding literary history that will challenge almost everything you think you know about Australia’s most famous literary hoax, the Ern Malley affair, and the motivations of its creators.

More than 20 years in the writing, acclaimed Australian novelist, poet and scholar, David Brooks, has produced what will be the most talked about literary book of 2011.

David Brooks had long harboured suspicions about the Ern Malley Hoax; to his expert eye as an accomplished poet and scholar of literature something about the whole affair just didn’t ring true. So when he inadvertently discovered evidence of a precedent for Ern Malley in the Adoré Floupette poetry hoax of 1885, Brooks embarked on a quest to reveal the real story behind Australia’s most famous literary scandal. What he discovered not only challenges every accepted belief about the hoaxers, motivations and inspiration, but charts the much neglected contribution of the French Symbolist movement to Australian poetry. In the mid 1940s, writers James McAuley and Harold Stewart submitted a series of poems to a magazine of experimental poetry, Angry Penguins, under the fictitious name Ern Malley. They claimed to want to demonstrate their disdain for experimental poetry by writing deliberately bad verse, hastily concocted by lifting lines from whatever came to hand a dictionary, a report on mosquito breeding grounds, Shakespeare blended with self-conscious hints at meaning. With the inclusion in their submission of an invented and tragic biography of ‘Ern Malley’ supplied by his fictitious sister ‘Ethel’, the hoax was complete.

In a flurry of excitement, the poems were published in a special edition proclaiming the discovery of an important new Australian voice. When the hoax was exposed, it occupied the front page of newspapers around the nation, and made international headlines. It is still Australia’s best-known and most talked about literary hoax, the inspiration not only of Peter Carey’s My Life as a Fake, but of works by such artists as Sidney Nolan and Gary Shead, and of innumerable poetic tributes around the globe.

The Sons of Clovis is not just a fresh look at the Ern Malley deception. It is also a compelling study of literary hoaxes, both Australian and international, and a wide-ranging journey through literature, culture, philosophy and poetics: how Ern’s French ancestor changed literary history; his Irish and Austrian cousins; Gwen Harwood’s infamous Bulletin sonnets; American poets on the loose in wartime Sydney and Melbourne; Frank O’Hara and James McAuley on the island of Manus, and so much more. Written in an engaging narrative style, this fascinating and revelatory book combines the authority of an academic classic with the narrative tension of a thriller.