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John William Brown is a poet, painter and performer based in Norwich. He has published in various anthologies and has produced a chapbook of his drawings and poems, Private View (1997). He was joint editor of the now defunct magazine for marginalised persons, State of Mind (2004-6).

John co-wrote with the writer-comedian Paul Knight, the verse-prose multimedia performance, Life of Grimm, (A Modern Fairy Tale), for the Norwich Fringe Festival 2010. He has recently completed a sonnet-play about The Great War, Fragments of Fragments, to be premiered at the Norwich Fringe 2014.


taut drawing from notebook © john william brown 2013

there have been only two points in my life
when i became aware of namelessness
the first occasion filled my mind with “if”
the second time i smiled with pointlessness

i live my life in taut reality
a tightrope life of in between and why
suspending disbelief and corporality
its been so long now since i have been i

© john william brown 2013



74 Poster for Anti-ATOS/DWP Demonstration Dec.2012 by john william brown

silently they come and go
faceless nameless bureaucrats
they judge who will live or die
culling the disabled poor

this has all been done before
in some other time and place
making evil dumb banal
culling the disabled poor

faceless evil nameless dumb
making who will live or die
silently banal they come
culling the disabled poor

and dumb in some other place
all this has been done before
making evil banal time
culling the disabled poor

faceless they go silently
nameless they who live or die
bureaucrats will come and judge
culling the disabled poor

From The Last Book (Part IV) © john william brown 2014


Raindrops on the Wensum. Photo © john william brown 2013

sometimes in a worn and crumpled bed
alive to new ideas and old regrets
each isolated passion of the mind
experiencing each nuanced sense of self

sometimes on a warm and blustery day
indifferent to the canopy of trees
the female jogger in her music world
the ever-present eye cc tv

sometimes seated by a river’s edge
the traffic reaching from the other shore
watching raindrops mimicking the fish
to be alive is simply just enough

From the series At The Margin © john william brown 2011)

wild peacocks (jiapur)

abstract oil painting showing wild expressive strokes of colour

wild peacocks painting © john william brown 2006

and then
on the mountain road
cutting shrub
and parched bark
the blanched trees
an auto-rickshaw chugged
up the rocky
and gradual incline

then there
on the edge of a bend
spluttered held still
summit fortress
way up above
amber fort
a sheer drop below

in the morning heat
we gazed down
through a frame
of sparse trees
at water-palace
on a blaze of
bright pollen-green

once more
on our cliff-hewn way
kumesh the driver
drove on
passed an outcrop
of ragged red pine
and there in between
through a grey haze of dust
agitated and wild
peacocks fled.

From Part IV of Exile Quartet - Return To Exile 2013

Remember Afghanistan

Remember Afghanistan. Drawing © john william brown 1980 & 2014

He remembered Coca Cola's road,
it ran half way up to Kabul,
the other half, all Russian slabs,
did not match up to Coke's smooth run.

Upon an older dusty road
a water-melon truck crushed by -
a peasant passed fat melons through
the windows of the ancient bus.

And he recalled herbaceous plants
as bright as bright and crimson red
that curved away in curling waves,
as crinkly as a curly kale.

And there were mountains, dragon-backed,
that slumbered in the evening sun
and desert winds that seared his skin
while tribesmen sat around and sang.

Above a distant mountain range
he saw two eagles circling round -
then, photos of some land-mined kids
and graves of crude carved latticed wood.

© john william brown 1996 & 2014
From Private View chapbook © john william brown 1997 & 2014

Disabled Gandhi

(Commissioned by DANDIFEST)

Some Of Our Dead. Photo © Ann Nicholls 2013

I’ve always tried to turn the other cheek,
But with ten thousand dead that’s getting hard,
And, dead, simply to keep the figures neat;
That gives new meaning to the bottom-line.
Computer tick-boxes keep the sick barred,
While politicians tell them, they’re in health
And can’t have payments they’ve paid in through time;
National Health Service: now private wealth.

I’ve always tried to think the best of all;
The worst, too, have basic humanity;
These humane tenets are on which I call
But even my compassion’s wearing thin;
My patience, too, when I see poverty
Used as a tool to beat the weak and poor,
All forced to work for moneys we paid in
For the event, when wolves were at the door.

I’ve sought non-violence rather than to,
Unnecessarily, cause death and pain;
Mahatma was my guide-light, through and through;
Yet, he said, be violent if you’re that sick,
Than hide behind cloaks of non-violent shame;
If that is in your heart, then that is true!
Disabled Gandhi, get your walking stick!
Time now, perhaps, to crack a head or two!

© john william brown 2014