Dr Stewart Brown PhD

Photograph of Dr Stewart Brown

Department of African Studies and Anthropology
Honorary Research Fellow

Contact details

Arts Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

For me the best part of living and working in Birmingham through the last two decades has been the sense of being in a genuinely multi-cultural city which, at all sorts of levels, celebrates and cherishes that cultural diversity. Few other cities in Europe have embraced the fact of such an ethnic, linguistic, religious and more broadly cultural encounter with such enthusiasm and panache. 

It is particularly appropriate that there should be a focus on African Studies in a city like Birmingham, and all of us working here try to contribute, in our various ways, to the celebration and critical contextualisation of the African and Caribbean aspects of the city’s cultural heritage.  

I have always thought of my role as being, essentially, to ‘spread the word’ about a body of literary work – African and Caribbean fiction and poetry – that until relatively recently has not had much attention paid to it. All my teaching, critical writing, making of anthologies, public speaking, organising of conferences and performances, etc. is essentially just spreading the word and sharing the good fortune of being able to access, discuss and engage with this exciting and challenging body of literature.


  • BA (Fine Art) CNAA
  • MA (African Studies) Sussex 
  • PhD (English) Wales [Aberystwyth]
  • Cert.Ed. Nottingham)




Born 1951 in Southampton, Stewart Brown studied art and literature at  Falmouth School of Art, the University  of Sussex and the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. He spent periods teaching in schools and universities in Jamaica, Nigeria, Wales and Barbados. Since 1988 he has taught in the Department of African Studies and Anthropology (formerly Centre of West African Studies) at the University of Birmingham, where, before retiring, he was Reader in Caribbean Literature and was for some years the Director of the Centre. He has travelled widely through West Africa and the Caribbean in relation to both his research and creative writing, and lectured for the British Council in both regions.


Stewart's research and teaching interests are in the fields of African literatures in English, Caribbean literature and in the 'cultural margins' of contemporary British literature – ‘black British’, ‘Anglo-Welsh’, ‘visual poetics’ (all the terms are disputed!). He has edited several major anthologies of African and Caribbean writing, including The Oxford Book of Caribbean Short Stories (2001) and The Oxford Book of Caribbean Poetry (2005). He has also edited critical studies of the great West Indian poets Derek Walcott, Kamau Brathwaite and Martin Carter. A collection of his essays on poetry, Tourist, Traveller, Troublemaker was published in 2007. 

He has recently been working on the literature of West Indian cricket, which will result in the publication of both a literary anthology and a collection of critical essays.

Other activities

For his work as a poet, Stewart received a Gregory Award in 1976 and has subsequently published eight collections of poetry, most recently Elsewhere: new and selected poems. His poems have been widely published in journals and anthologies internationally and he has given public readings from his work at many cultural events and literary festivals around the world.

In the 1970s he had several solo shows of paintings and constructions at galleries in Jamaica and the UK and although professionally diverted into Literature he continued to make visual images for his sanity's sake. In recent years he has been working on Babel, an ongoing series of collages, paintings, prints and installations derived from experiments with ‘visual language’. Versions of  Babel have subsequently been exhibited in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (2006), at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination, University of the West Indies, Barbados (2007), at The East African Publishing House in Dar es Salam in Tanzania (2009) and, most recently at the Drum Arts Centre in Birmingham (2010). 

For more details on - and images relating to - the Babel project and for examples of his poetry, see the Catalyst Press website. 


Critical writing

As author

  • 2007 Tourist, Traveller, Troublemaker : Essays on Poetry, Leeds, Peepal Tree Press.

As editor

  • 2006 Poems by Martin Carter, (co-ed with Ian McDonald), Oxford, Macmillan Caribbean.
  • 2001 Kiss and Quarrel: Yoruba/English: Strategies of Mediation, (ed.) Birmingham, CWAS African Studies Series.
  • 2000 ‘All Are Involved’: The Art of Martin Carter, (ed.)Leeds, Peepal Tree Press. 1995 The Art of Kamau Brathwaite, (ed.)Bridgend, Seren Books.
  • 1995 The Pressures of the Text: Orality, texts and the telling of tales, (ed.) Birmingham, CWAS African Studies Series.
  • 1991 The Art of Derek Walcott, (ed.) Bridgend, Seren Books.

Introductions and afterwords

  • 2009 ‘Stanley Graves in conversation’: Afterword to The Poems Man, by Stanley Graves, Leeds, Peepal Tree Press.
  • 2004 ‘Introduction’ to Words Need Love Too by Kamau Brathwaite, Cambridge, Salt Publishing.

Literary anthologies

  • 2011 The Bowling was Superfine: West Indian Writers on West Indian Cricket, (co-ed with Ian McDonald) Leeds, Peepal Tree Press. 
  • 2005 The Oxford Book of Caribbean Poetry, (co-ed with Mark McWatt) Oxford, OUP. 
  • 2001 The Oxford Book of Caribbean Short Stories (co-ed. with John Wickham), Oxford, OUP. 
  • 1997 African New Voices: an anthology of contemporary prose and poetry, (ed.) Harlow, Longman. 1995 Caribbean New Voices: an anthology of contemporary prose and poetry, (ed.) Harlow, Longman.
  • 1992 The Heinemann Book of Caribbean Poetry, (co-ed. with Ian McDonald), Oxford, Heinemann.
  • 1992 Caribbean Poetry Now,(Revised, 2nd edition) (ed.) Sevenoaks, Edward Arnold.
  • 1990 Caribbean New Wave: the contemporary short story, (ed.) Oxford, Heinemann.
  • 1990 Voiceprint: oral and related poetries of the Caribbean, (co-ed. with Gordon Rohlehr and Mervyn Morris), Harlow, Longman.
  • 1984 Caribbean Poetry Now, (ed.) Sevenoaks, Hodder & Stoughton Elsewhere: New and Selected Poems, Leeds, Peepal Tree Press.
  • 1989 Lugard’s Bridge, Bridgend, Seren Books. 1986 Zinder, Bridgend, Poetry Wales Press.
  • 1985 The Perfume of Decay, Hatch End, Poet & Printer.
  • 1982 Mekin Foolishness, Diego Martin,Trinidad, The New Voices.
  • 1979 Specimens, Knotting, The Sceptre Press.
  • 1977 Room Service, Falmouth, Falmouth School of Art Publications.
  • 1975 Beasts, Walton-on-Thames, Outposts Publications

Chapters and essays in edited books

  • 2009 ‘Things Fall Apart: poetry as counter-commentary, perhaps’ in When Things Came Together: Studies on Chinua Achebe, D. Burness, I. Mata & V. Hartnack (Eds.), Lisbon, Faculty of Letters, University of Lisbon, p.70-74.
  • 2008 ‘Martin Carter: The Poems Man’ in Black Literature Criticism: classic and emerging authors since 1950, edited by Jelena O. Krstovic, Farmington Hills, MI, USA. Gale. 
  • 2004. ‘Sun Poem - The Rainbow Sign’ in The Critical Response to Kamau Braithwaite, E Williams (Editor), Westport, Greenwood Press, p.137-146.
  • 2004 "Incalculable Flotsam": Frank Collymore salvaging poetry from the sea in Remembering the Sea: an introduction to Frank A. Collymore, P.W. Nanton (Editor), Bridgetown, Central Bank of Barbados, p.54-76.
  • 2003 ‘The Apprentice: 25 poems, Epitaph for the Young, Poems and In a Green Night’ (In Derek Walcott (Blooms Modern Critical Views Series), H Bloom (Editor), Philadelphia, Chelsea House Publishers, p.79-99.
  • 2003 ‘Still Daring the Beast: Niyi Osundare and contemporary Nigerian Poetry’ in The People's Poet: Emerging perspectives on Niyi Osundare, A-R Na'Allah (Editor), Trenton, NJ, Africa World Press, 97-114.
  • 1995 ‘Between me and thee is a great gulf fixed’: The Crusoe Presence in Walcott’s early poetry’ in Robinson Crusoe: Myths and Metamorphoses, eds. Lieve Spaas and Brian Stimpson, Basingstoke, Macmillan, p.210-224 

Essays and articles in journals and magazines

  • 2006 ‘The Fifth Figure: Jean Binta Breeze in conversation’ in Wasafiri Vol.21., no.3, p.43-49
  • 2006 ‘The truth of craft: the poetry of Martin Carter’ in The Caribbean Review of Books , New Vol.1., no.7, Feb p.28-31. 
  • 2006 ‘Peace an’ Love: a context to ‘Whales’’ in Caribbean Dispatches, ed. Jane Bryce, Basingstoke, Macmillan p.27-32.
  • 2006 ‘Amryl Johnson: her poetry mapped the space between two cultures’ in Dialogue: a journal for cultural literacy, vol.1. no.2. p.73-75.
  • 2005 ‘Another Music: Poetry in West Africa’, Poetry Wales, 40, no.3, p.45-58.