Steven Ford Brown

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Steven Ford Brown
SFB 1983 2 copy.jpg
Brown in 1983
Born (1952-09-11)September 11, 1952
Florence, Alabama, USA
Occupation Editor, Translator, Writer
Nationality American
Period 1973 -

Steven Ford Brown (born September 11, 1952) is an American journalist, music critic, publisher and translator in Boston, Massachusetts. Brown grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, and attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham. After moving to Boston he worked for several local universities. For almost a decade he worked in the European Equities Department of a private investment firm in Boston's Financial District. He resigned his position in January 2006 to travel and live in Europe and pursue a career as a music critic and journalist. In September 2011, he founded The Official Tomas Tranströmer Website and currently serves as the Managing Director.

Early life[edit]

Of French and Scottish descent, Steven Ford Brown was born in Florence, Alabama, to Ford Brown (a Marine veteran of World War II and a sales executive) and Gloria Peters (a housewife). The family eventually moved to Birmingham and he grew up in a suburb of the city. While attending Huffman High School he became interested in the poetry and music of Leonard Cohen[1] and the poetry of Richard Brautigan,[2] Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and other members of the Beat Generation.[3] During this time he was also influenced by the 1960s music of the San Francisco scene and the British Invasion bands. After high school he attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham[4] and the University of Houston.

Southside, journalism, music, publishing[edit]

In 1973 Brown moved to Birmingham’s Southside, a community just below Red Mountain[5] and ten minutes from the downtown area of Birmingham where the most violent confrontations of the Civil Rights[6] era took place. Not unlike New York City's Greenwich Village and San Francisco's Haight Ashbury during the 1960s, Southside, in stark contrast to the Civil Rights battleground in downtown Birmingham, was home to a tolerant alternative artistic, cultural and lifestyle scene.[7] The Southside community featured an alternative newspaper (The Paperman), a Buddhist styled natural foods store (Golden Temple Health Foods),[8] Society's Child, a folk music oriented coffeehouse, several communes, a headshop, a free medical clinic, the Charlemagne Record Exchange,[9] The Garages[10] art studios and the Red Mountain Alternative School.[11]

Brown began his literary affiliations on Southside by joining a loose congregation of artists, writers and musicians who gathered and lived at the Cobb Lane Studios, a collection of apartments and studios above the Cobb Lane Restaurant[12] on 20th Street. He began a writing career in earnest with The Paperman as an occasional journalist, books and literary editor and music reviewer. During this period on Southside he met poet John Beecher and his wife Barbara and also began a correspondence with John Martin, publisher of Black Sparrow Press,[13] and discovered Black Sparrow authors Charles Bukowski, Tom Clark, Jack Spicer and Diane Wakoski. He would eventually correspond for several years with Wakoski. He created and edited for the paper an original series of features and profiles of American artists and writers that included Diane Arbus, John Beecher, Charles Bukowski, Allen Ginsberg, Richard Hugo, Diane Wakoski and Poets against the Vietnam War.[14] As a rock music critic and journalist he was among the first to champion Buckingham Nicks, the debut album by Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks before they joined Fleetwood Mac. During this period he reviewed such recording artists as the Allman Brothers, Blondie, Bob Dylan, The Eagles, Marvin Gaye, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Gram Parsons, Jimmie Spheeris, Michael Stanley, Alex Taylor, Steve Winwood and Warren Zevon.

Publishing, Old Town Music Hall[edit]

The Blue House by Tomas Tranströmer, 1987

He left The Paperman in 1975 to become editor of Aura Literary Arts Review[15] at The University of Alabama at Birmingham, publishing work by Yukio Mishima (Japan), Diane Wakoski, and features on Robert Bly, Howard Nemerov, the American Prose Poem and Southern culture and literature.[16] The same year he also founded a small literary press, Thunder City Press,[17] which eventually became Ford-Brown & Co., Publishers, and continued to publish books until 1995. Over a twenty-year period his two publishing houses published anthologies, broadsides, chapbooks, books and magazines that included literary work by John Beecher, Richard Brautigan, Pier Giorgio DiCicco (Canada), Bei Dao (China), Mark Doty, Odysseus Elytis (Greece), Charles Gaines, Andrew Glaze, Günter Grass (Germany), Gail Godwin, Enrique Anderson Imbert (Argentina), Carolyn Kizer, John Logan, Larry McMurtry. Vassar Miller, Pablo Neruda (Chile), Sonia Sanchez, Gerald Stern, Georg Trakl (Austria), Tomas Tranströmer (Sweden), Yevgeny Yevtushenko (Russia) and Paul Zimmer.[18]

With Birmingham writer Danny Gamble[19] in 1980 he founded the Old Town Music and Reading series on Morris Avenue[20] off of 20th Street North in downtown Birmingham. The founding of this performance series was the culmination of a number of years of sponsorship by Brown of conferences, readings and music performances by Birmingham artists. Brown and Gamble coordinated with Drew Tombrello,[21] owner of The Old Town Music Hall, to present performances to packed audiences three times a year. Performers included many local musician and writers, such as The Broken Hearts, Johnny Coley, Lolly Lee, Charles Muse, The Ray Reach Group, Dale Short, Michael Swindle and Macey Taylor. There were also periodic performances and readings by such notable musicians and writers as Mose Allison, Michael Harper, Philip Levine, Larry Levis, Shirley Williams and Larry Jon Wilson.[22]

Influences and Creative Work[edit]

As he began his mature work his creative influences included Robert Bly, Leonard Cohen, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and Diane Wakoski. "Deep image" poets such as Bly, Federico García Lorca, Pablo Neruda, Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer and Wakoski had a particularly important impact on his poetry and creative outlook. His own published work since then has included essays, interviews, poetry and translations that have appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, The Harvard Review, Poetry, Rolling Stone, Jacket (Australia), Verse and on the BBC Radio literary program The Verb[23] He also edited One More River to Cross: The Selected Poems of John Beecher (introduction by Studs Terkel), and co-edited Invited Guest: An Anthology of Twentieth Century Southern Poetry with David Rigsbee, which was selected as one of the "Best of the Best from the University Presses" and featured on C-SPAN's "Book TV". He served as Director of Research[24] for the George Plimpton[25] interview series, The Writer in Society, which appeared on the Channel 8 PBS[26] affiliate in Houston, Texas, and featured interviews with Maya Angelou, John Barth, Donald Barthelme and Bobbie Anne Mason. His own research for the series was on the short fiction and novels of Barthelme.

Translations: Ángel González, Jorge Carrera Andrade[edit]

Cover of Edible Amazonia: Twenty-One Poems From God’s Amazonian Recipe Book

After moving to Texas, Brown began translating the work of Spanish poet Ángel González which resulted in the publication of Astonishing World: The Selected Poems of Ángel González, 1956-1986 (Milkweed Editions, 1992).[27] His other books of translations include Nicomedes Suarez Arauz' Edible Amazonia: Twenty-One Poems From God’s Amazonian Recipe Book,[28] Jorge Carrera Andrade's Century of the Death of the Rose[29] and Microgramas, and Juan Carlos Galeano's Amazonia. He also edited two special issues of the Atlanta Review[30] of poetry from Latin America and Spain (the Spanish issue included English translations of poets who wrote in their native languages of Basque, Castilian Spanish, Catalan and Galician). His most recent book, Microgramas, by Jorge Carrera Andrade was published in 2007 in an exclusive limited bilingual Spanish-English edition by Orogenia Corporacion Cultural[31] in Quito, Ecuador, with distribution limited to South America.


In 2004 Brown became active with the website,[32] a movement started by Alan Cordle[33] that criticized the incestuousness of American MFA literary programs and corruption in literary contests, particularly at the University of Georgia Contemporary Poetry Series, University of Iowa fiction and poetry contests and the University of North Texas Vassar Miller Prize contest.[34] His efforts were primarily centered at the University of Iowa Press Poetry and Fiction Prize contests and the University of North Texas Vassar Miller Poetry Prize. He also provided background interviews for major articles on Alan Cordle and the movement that appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education[35] and The Los Angeles Times.[36] In 2005 an interview of Brown, “ And What Academia Doesn't Want You to Know About the Creative Writing Industry,” appeared in VOX, an experimental literary journal based in Oxford, Mississippi, and was later reprinted in Left Curve,[37] a literary journal based in San Francisco.

Awards and Grants[edit]

His translations and other publications have been supported by grants from the Spanish Cultural Ministry (Madrid, Spain), the National Endowment for the Arts, the Linn-Henley Charitable Trust, the Cultural Office of the Swedish Embassy in New York City and the Texas Commission for the Arts. The Birmingham Festival of Arts awarded him the Silver Bowl for his contributions to the literary arts of Birmingham, Alabama.

Boston and Music Journalism[edit]

He currently lives in Boston, Massachusetts while occasionally traveling in Europe, particularly Amsterdam, Barcelona, London and Stockholm. As a staff writer for Boston Music Spotlight[38] Brown published interviews (with Boston Phoenix music critic Brett Milano[39] and musician Barry Tashian[40] of 1960s Boston rock group Barry & The Remains) and essays on the history of the Boston rock music scene, particularly focused on the Boston-Cambridge folk-rock music era of the 1960s in Harvard Square through the Boston punk rock era of the 1970s. In late 2010 he joined the website Exploit Boston![41] as a contributing writer, publishing an interview with folk singer Elizabeth Butters[42] He has also published reviews of Scottish music group Camera Obscura, Leonard Cohen and a survey of the significant bands that made up San Francisco music scene of the 1960s.

Europe and Sports Journalism[edit]

Brown has been a featured writer at Boxing and written feature articles on boxers Chris Byrd, Bernard Hopkins and Wladimir Klitschko, the Ukrainian heavyweight champion. He published an essay, “The Saban Way,”[43] just prior to the 2010 BCS National Championship Game predicting Alabama's win over the University of Texas football team. Since 2006 he has frequently traveled to Amsterdam, Netherlands, living in the Rembrantplein, Vondelpark and Westerpark areas In 2006 he was in residence at the Swedish Writers Union in Stockholm.



  • The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry, edited by Ilya Kaminsky and Susan Harris, Ecco. 2010
  • Modern World Literature, edited by Holt Mcdougal, Houghton Mifflin, 2006
  • The Gift of Experience: The Atlanta Review 10th Anniversary Anthology, edited by Daniel Shapiro, Atlanta Review Press, 2005
  • Verse 20th Anniversary Issue, edited by Henry Hart, Verse Books, 2005
  • What Have You Lost?, edited by Naomi Shihab Nye, Green Willow Books, 2001
  • The PIP Anthology of World Poetry of the Twentieth Century, edited by Douglas Messerli, Green Integer Books, 2000
  • The Same Sky: A Collection of Poems from Around the World, edited by Naomi Shihab Nye, Aladdin Books, 1996
  • The Vintage Book of Contemporary World Poetry, edited by J.D. McClatchy, Vintage Books, 1996
  • Beyond The Red, White & Blue: A Student's Introduction to American Studies, edited by Lewis Carlson, James M. Ferrei, Kendall Hunt Publishing, 1993
  • Carrying The Darkness: American Indochina – The Poetry of the Vietnam War, Avon Books, edited by W.D. Erhart, 1985
  • Contemporary Literature in Birmingham: An Anthology of Fiction and Poetry, Birmingham Public Library/Thunder City Press, edited by Steven Ford Brown, 1983



  • (2007) Microgramas, Jorge Carrera Andrade (as translator), Orogenia Corporacion Cultural: Quito, Ecuador (poetry)

United States

  • (2014) Boston Stories, The Lion Publishing Group (fiction)
  • (2013) Brautiganesque: Growing Flowers By Moonlight, Lorca House Publishers (poetry)
  • (2013) Amazonia, prose poems by Juan Carlos Galeano (as translator), Lorca House Publishers (poetry)
  • (2011) Microgramas, Jorge Carrera Andrade (as translator) with artwork by Sandra C. Fernandez, Austin, Texas
  • (2003) One More River To Cross: The Selected Poems of John Beecher, preface by Studs Terkel (as editor), New South Books (poetry)
  • (2002) Century of The Death of The Rose: The Selected Poems of Jorge Carrera Andrade (as translator), New South Books (poetry)
  • (2002) Edible Amazonia: Twenty Poems From God's Amazonian Recipe Book, Nicomedes Suarez Arauz (as translator), Bitter Oleander Press (poetry)
  • (2001) Invited Guest: An Anthology of Twentieth Century Southern Poetry (as co-editor with David Rigsbee), University of Virginia Press (literary criticism, poetry)
  • (1993) Astonishing World: The Selected Poems of Ángel González, 1956-1986 (as translator), Milkweed Editions (poetry)
  • (1988) Heart's Invention: On the Poetry of Vassar Miller, introduction by Larry McMurtry (as editor), Ford-Brown & Co., Publishers (literary criticism, poetry)
  • (1988) Contemporary Literature in Birmingham: An Anthology (as editor), Birmingham Public Library/Thunder City Press (fiction and poetry)

External links[edit]

Sports Journalism


  • "Friday Night Fights: Chris Byrd vs Shaun George or The Magic, Science and Voodoo of Matchmaking" (Boxing Herald, August 7, 2008)

College Football

Music Reviews and interviews

Professional Website and Brown Interviews

Jorge Carrera Andrade

Tomas Tranströmer



  1. ^ 2007 Leonard Cohen Homepage
  2. ^ Richard Brautigan Archive
  3. ^ The Beat Generation Archives
  4. ^ University of Alabama at Birmingham People: University of Alabama at Birmingham Alumni, Richard M. Scrushy, Larry Langford, Regina Benjamin, Steven Ford Brown
  5. ^ Red Mountain History
  6. ^ Birmingham, Alabama at
  7. ^ “Different Types of People Thrown Together on Southside,” Barbara Carson, Birmingham Post-Herald, October 6, 1971
  8. ^ The Golden Temple Health Foods and Cafe
  9. ^ Charlemagne Record Exchange
  10. ^ The Garages Cafe
  11. ^ "Red Mountain School History: The Big Bang Lives On, Alan Greenberg", August 2008
  12. ^ "Cobb Lane Restaurant in Birmingham to close Jan. 31", The Birmingham News, January 24, 2009
  13. ^ Black Sparrow Press
  14. ^ "Poetry and Vietnam," John Clark Pratt, Modern American Poetry
  15. ^ Aura Literary Arts webpage
  16. ^ “Aura is Miraculous, Often Quite Wonderful,” Paul T. Hornak, The Birmingham News, February 12, 1978
  17. ^ “Thunder City Press Launches,” Dale Short, The Birmingham News, December 21, 1975
  18. ^ “Thunder City Press Grows Since 1975,” Greater Birmingham Arts Alliance Quarterly, Volume 1, Number 2, Spring 1983
  19. ^ The Alabama Writers Forum
  20. ^ Morris Avenue Historic District
  21. ^ " 'Dylan: A Bard's Eye View' at Actors Alley," T. H. McCulloh, The Los Angeles Times, December 27, 1989
  22. ^ “Bar Art: Sharing Life: Music, Poetry Fulfill Afternoon,” Charlie Burtram, The Birmingham News, August 30, 1980
  23. ^ The BBC Radio 3 The Verb.
  24. ^ "Somerville Writer Steven Ford Brown Explores the Punks Among the Brahmins," The Somerville News, July 8, 2009
  25. ^ George Plimpton: Man of Letters, Man of Action website
  26. ^ Channel 8 Houston PBS
  27. ^ Astonishing World: The Selected Poems of Angel Gonzalez, 1956-1986, edited by Steven Ford Brown, Milkweed Editions
  28. ^ Bitter Oleander Press
  29. ^ NewSouth Books
  30. ^ Atlanta Review
  31. ^ Orogenia Corporacion Cultural website
  32. ^ Archive
  33. ^ Alan Cordle Blog
  34. ^ Foetry Vassar Miller Prize Archive
  35. ^ "Rhyme & Unreason" by Thomas Bartlett, The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 20, 2005
  36. ^ " In Search of Poetic Justice" by Tomas Alex Tizon, Los Angeles Times, June 17, 2005
  37. ^ “ And What Academia Doesn't Want You to Know About the Creative Writing Industry,” by Louis E. Bourgeois, Left Curve, Number 30
  38. ^ The Official Boston Music Spotlight website
  39. ^ The Official Brett Milano website
  40. ^ The Official Barry Tashian website
  41. ^ The Official Exploit Boston! website
  42. ^ “Ready to Hang Her Hat on a Star: The Elizabeth Butters Interview,” by Steven Ford Brown, Exploit Boston!, December 14, 2010
  43. ^ “The Saban Way: Alabama Will Beat Texas in Rose Bowl,” by Steven Ford Brown, January 6, 2010