Author Tags: Art, Film, Poetry
Colin Browne co-founded the Kootenay School of Writing in 1985, as well as Praxis, a film script development workshop, in 1986. A year later he published a poetry book Abraham (Brick Books, 1987) about the Holy Land in the Middle East. Browne was shortlisted for the Governor General's Award for Poetry for his collection Ground Water (Talonbooks, 2002). A short film called Altar was made using text from the book. His collection of poetry, The Shovel (Talonbooks 2007) has been described by his publisher as a complex reckoning. "In exhuming the mesopelagic shades of the 20th century, The Shovel collapses, at last, the reigning fiction of time." The Properties (Talon 2012) was shortlisted for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize in 2013.
The publishers of Browne’s poetry collection The Hatch (Talonbooks, 2015) tell us that “Myth, history, and the present are contemporaneous in these poems; nothing is ever one thing, and nothing is itself for very long. Browne’s poems have regularly addressed landscape and the intersections of personal and public history; in The Hatch there is a rhythmic and political urgency in which the exchange of forms is lightning quick. This is a book of transformations.”
Every good story is an origin story, and Browne ranges through the fields of art history, literature, ethnology, and myth to discover who the Fungus Man was, and why he was the one responsible for human procreation in his book Entering Time: The Fungus Man Platters of Charles Edenshaw (Talonbooks 2016). In 2013 the Charles Edenshaw exhibition was displayed at the Vancouver Art Gallery, where three argillite platters carved by the Haida master depicted the Raven and Fungus Man. It was the mission of these two characters in the Haida epic poem “Raven Travelling” to enable men and women to go forth and multiply. In the exploration of these three platters Browne discovers a parallel history of modernism.
Browne is most widely known as a documentary filmmaker. His study called Running with the Fox, Riding with the Hounds explores the documentary impulse in Canadian film and poetry. One of his earlier projects was Hoppy, a film portrait of the Galiano Island children's book author and artist Elisabeth 'Hoppy' Hopkins, (1894-1991), author of the The Painted Cougar. He later directed a film about Vancouver jazz musician Linton Garner called Linton Garner: I Never Said Goodbye (2003). His other documentary films include Father and Son (1992) and White Lake (1989), which was nominated for a Canadian Film Award for Best Feature Length Documentary.
Browne has edited Writing magazine, taught at the School for Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University and undertaken a history of filmmaking, Motion Picture Production in British Columbia, 1849-1940: A Brief Historical Background and Catalogue (Museum of B.C., 1979), in which he identifies more than 1,000 films that were made in British Columbia prior to World War II.
In connection to an exhibition he curated at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2016 called I Had An Interesting French Artist To See Me This Summer: Emily Carr and Wolfgang Paalen in British Columbia, Colin Browne wrote the text for a book catalogue of the same name in which he recounts and explores the relationship between Carr and surrealist painter Wolfgang Paalen who was member of the Paris avant-garde in the 1930s. The pair met in the summer of 1939, when Carr was age 67 and living at 316 Beckley Street in Victoria. Paalen had travelled to North America with his wife, Alice Rahon, and their friend, Eva Sulzer. As an artist and collector, Paalen was keenly interested in the art and culture of indigenous peoples of North America, later settling in Mexico where he published an art journal Dyn in which he continued to investigate the integration of "the enormous treasure of Amerindian forms into the consciousness of modern art." The catalogue also records the correspondence between Paalen and West Coast collector William Arnold Newcombe (1884-1960) who served as go-between for Carr and Paalen. In a letter to a friend Carr wrote, "I can't get the surrealist point of view most of their subjects revolt me." But Paalen evidently saw similarities with Carr's approach the she failed to appreciate. Colin Browne's study examines the stylistic synchronicity of their paintings, evidenced by a melding of a painting by each artist to serve as the cover of the catalogue.
Governor General’s Award for Poetry, Finalist (2003) Ground Water
BC Book Prizes Dorothy Livesay Award for Poetry, Nominee (2003) Ground Water
ReLit Award for Poetry, Long-Listed (2003) Ground Water
BC Cultural Services Media Arts Award (1993)
Genie Award for Best Feature-Length Documentary, Nominee (1990) White Lake
Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
Motion Picture Production in British Columbia: 1898-1940
Motion Picture Production in British Columbia, 1849-1940: A Brief Historical Background and Catalogue (Museum of B.C., 1979)
Abraham (Brick Books, 1987)
Ground Water (Talonbooks, 2002)
The Shovel (Talonbooks 2007)
The Properties (Talonbooks 2012) $19.95 9780889226852
The Hatch (Talonbooks, 2015) $19.95 9780889229389
I Had An Interesting French Artist To See Me This Summer: Emily Carr and Wolfgang Paalen in British Columbia (Vancouver Art Gallery / Figure.1 2016) 978-1-927958-78-0 pbk $24.95
Entering Time: The Fungus Man Platters of Charles Edenshaw (Talonbooks 2017) $19.95, 978-1-77201-039-8
[BCBW 2017] "Poetry" "Film"
LINTON GARNER: I NEVER SAID GOODBYE
Vancouver International Film Festival
Sun Oct 5, 2003 Granville 7 Cinema 7
Wed Oct 8, 2003 Granville 7 Cinema 5
Colin Browne, author of Ground Water, nominated for the Governor General's Award for Poetry, is also a filmmaker who has written and directed a film about the life of the celebrated jazz musician Linton Garner, who played the last years of his long career in a club near Kitsilano Beach in Vancouver. During a career that spanned more than seven decades, Linton worked with innovators like Charlie Parker, Billy Eckstine and Dizzy Gillespie before making Vancouver his home in the early 1970s. When his younger brother Erroll, a keyboard prodigy, died suddenly the day before a planned visit in 1977, Linton decided that he would one day write a tribute. Through recollections of his early professional days, conversations with fellow musicians and footage from the 2002 Vancouver International Jazz Festival performance of I Never Said Goodbye, Linton emerges as a man of great warmth, humanity, sharp wit and immeasurable talent. 
Publisher's Promo (2012)
The texts in The Properties range from a twenty-first-century visitation by Herman Melville at a diner in New York City to an unknown history of the Lions Gate Bridge that begins in the Coast Salish village of Xwemelch’stn and ends with an assassination in Egypt. Igor Stravinsky, Sigmund Freud, Stefan Zweig, Duke Ellington, Jeanne d’Arc, Walter Guinness, George Bowering, André Breton (who sought out “the interior voice within each human being”) and more appear.