Steven Ford Brown

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Steven Ford Brown in 1983. Photo by Dennis Harper

Steven Ford Brown (born September 11, 1952, in Florence (Lauderdale County), Alabama, is a journalist, music critic, and translator, currently living in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Of French and Scottish descent, Brown is the son of Ford Brown, a sales executive who served as a U.S. Marine in the Pacific theater during World War II, and Gloria Peters. As a student at Huffman High School in the Birmingham suburbs, he became interested in the literature of the San Francisco the Beat Generation writers of the 1950s and 1960s, and music of the British Invasion bands of the era. He completed his bachelor's degree in English and Literature in 1983 at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and has also studied at the University of Houston and Harvard University's Extension School.

In 1973 Brown moved from the suburbs to Birmingham’s Southside. There he joined a loose congregation of artists, writers, and musicians who gathered and lived at the Cobb Lane Studios above the Cobb Lane Restaurant and other places in the Five Points South area. He began his writing career at the alternative newspaper The Paperman as a journalist, books and literary editor and music reviewer. He created and edited for the paper an original series of profiles of American artists and writers that included photographer Diane Arbus, writers John Beecher, Charles Bukowski, Allen Ginsberg, Richard Hugo, Diane Wakoski, and Poets against the Vietnam War.

Aura Literary Arts Review (1977)

Brown left The Paperman in 1975 to become editor of UAB's Aura Literary Arts Review. The same year he also founded Thunder City Press, which eventually became Ford-Brown & Co., Publishers, and published anthologies, broadsides, chapbooks, books, and magazines until 1995. In 1983, in conjunction with the Birmingham Public Library, he published Contemporary Literature in Birmingham: An Anthology, an edition that included poetry and fiction from contemporary Birmingham writers.

in 1980 Brown and writer Danny Gamble founded the "Old Town Music Hall Music and Reading" series, held thrice yearly at Drew Tombrello's Old Town Music Hall on Morris Avenue.

Edible Amazonia (2002)

In 1983, Brown moved to Houston, Texas. While in Texas he served as a board member of the Houston Poetry Festival. In 1984, Brown was appointed as Director of Research for the George Plimpton interview series, The Writer in Society, that appeared on Houston's PBS affiliate televison station and featured interviews with writers Maya Angelou, John Barth, Donald Barthelme and Bobbie Ann Mason. He edited Heart's Invention (1988), a book of literary criticism about the work of former Texas poet laureate Vassar Miller that featured an introductory essay by novelist Larry McMurtry. At the same time, Brown began translating the work of Spanish poet Ángel González leading to the publication of Astonishing World: The Selected Poems of Ángel González, 1956-1986 by Milkweed Editions in 1992. Astonishing World received a literary award in recogintion of the significance of the book from the Ministerio de Cultura in Madrid, Spain.

Brown has also translated works by Hispanic poets Nicomedes Suárez Araúz (Bolivia), Jorge Carrera Andrade (Ecuador), Ana Maria Fagundo (The Canary Islands), Juan Carlos Galeano (Colombia), and Pere Gimferrer (Catalonia). He edited a special issue of the Atlanta Review featuring contemporary poets from Latin America. A second special issue of The Atlanta Review featured poetry from the Basque, Castilian, Catalan and Galician regions of Spain. He has also been involved in Alan Cordle's "Foetry" campaign against corruption in the awarding of literary prizes.

After moving to Boston, Massachusetts in 1988, Brown worked at Harvard University and for a decade in the European Equities Banking and Insurance Department of the private investment firm Wellington Management LLP. He resigned in 2006 to live in Amsterdam, Netherlands and resume working as a writer and editor.

In Boston, Brown has served as a board member of the New England Poetry Club and been a featured writer for Boxing, Boston Music Spotlight, "Exploit Boston". He has also contributed essays, interviews, poetry and translations to The Christian Science Monitor, The Harvard Review, Poetry, Rolling Stone, Jacket (Australia) and Verse. His translations of Jorge Carrera Andrade were featured on the BBC’s Radio 4 literary Program The Verb. Invited Guest: An Anthology of Twentieth Century Southern Poetry(University of Virginia Press 2002)was named as one of The Best Books of The Year from a University Press by the American Library Association and the American Association of University Professors, and was featured on C-Span’s Booknotes TV program.

Brown was in residency at the Swedish Writers Union in Stockholm, Sweden in 2006, where he also spent time with Swedish writer Tomas Tranströmer. His translations and other publications have been supported by grants from the Spanish Cultural Ministry in 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. In 1982, the Birmingham Festival of Arts awarded him the "Silver Bowl" for his contributions to the literary arts of Birmingham.

Brown is the founder and managing director of The Official Website of Tomas Tranströmer, dedicated to the life and work of Tranströmer, winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize for Literature.


  • Brown, Steven Ford, ed. (1983) Contemporary Literature in Birmingham: An Anthology of Fiction and Poetry. Birmingham: Birmingham Public Library/Thunder City Press
  • Brown, Steven Ford, ed. (1993) Astonishing World: The Selected Poems of Ángel González, 1956-1986 Minneapolis, Minnesoata: Milkweed Editions.
  • Brown, Steven Ford, editor and translator (2002) Century of The Death of The Rose: The Selected Poems of Jorge Carrera Andrade. Montgomery: New South Books
  • Suárez Araúz, Nicomedes (2002) Edible Amazonia: Twenty Poems from God's Amazonian Recipe Book English translation by Steven Ford Brown. Fayetteville, New York: Bitter Oleander Press
  • Brown, Steven Ford, ed. (2003) One More River To Cross: The Selected Poems of John Beecher. Montgomery: New South Books
  • Brown, Steven Ford, editor and translator (2002) After Neruda, After Paz: 16 Latin American Poets. Atlanta, Georgia: Atlanta Review Press
  • Brown, Steven Ford, editor and translator (2003) 18 Contemporary Poets from Spain. Atlanta, Georgia: Atlanta Review Press
  • Andrade, Jorge Carrera (2007) Microgramas. English translation by Steven Ford Brown. Quito, Ecuador: Orogenia Corporacion Cultural


External links