Brooks was born in Canberra. He graduated from the Australian National University in 1974. He married Alison Summers in 1975. Brooks and Summers then studied abroad, receiving M.A. degrees from the University of Toronto. Brooks completed his Ph.D from the University of Toronto after returning to Australia in 1981 while teaching at the Royal Military College, Duntroon, Canberra.
In 1982 he began teaching at the University of Western Australia in Perth, where he met the poet Nicolette Stasko, who became his partner for the next 20 years. In 1986 he returned to the Australian National University as a lecturer, a post he held for the next four years.
He is a co-editor, along with Elizabeth McMahon, for Southerly, Australia's oldest literary magazine.
He is a vegan.
His novel The Fern Tattoo was shortlisted for the 2008 Miles Franklin Award.
- Five Poems (1973-76). Toronto: Dreadnaught, 1981.
- The Cold Front. Sydney: Hale & Iremonger, 1983.
- The Dead. Sydney: Vagabound Press, 1999.
- Walking to Point Clear: Poems 1983-2002. Blackheath, NSW: Brandl & Schlesinger, 2005.
- Urban Elegies. Woodford, NSW: Island Press (Australia), 2007.
- The Balcony. St. Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 2008.
- The House of Balthus. St. Leonard's, NSW: Allen and Unwin, 1995.
- The Fern Tattoo. St. Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 2007.
- The Umbrella Club. St. Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 2009.
- The Conversation. St. Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 2012.
- The Book of Sei, and other stories. Sydney: Hale & Iremonger, 1985.
- published in UK as The Book of Sei. London: Faber & Faber, 1988.
- Sheep and the Diva. Ringwood, Vic: McPhee Gribble, 1990.
- Black Sea. Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1997.
- The Necessary Jungle: Literature and excess. Ringwood, Vic: McPhee Gribble, 1995.
- De/scription: The Balthus notebook. Sydney: Vagabond Press, 2000.
- A Town like Mparntwe: A guide to the dreaming tracks and sites of Alice Springs. Alice Springs, NT: Jukurrpa Books, 2003.
- The Sons of Clovis: Ern Malley, Adoré Floupette and a Secret History of Australian Poetry, Brisbane: University of Queensland Press, 2011.
- NewSouth: Australian poetry of the late 1970's: A selection. Toronto: Dreadnaught, 1980.
- Poetry and Gender: Statements and essays in Australian women's poetry and poetics (edited with Brenda Walker). St. Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1989.
- A.D. Hope, Selected Poems. Sydney: HarperCollins/A&R, 1991.
- The Double Looking Glass: New and Classic Essays on the Poetry of A. D. Hope. St. Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 2000.
- A.D. Hope, Selected Poetry and Prose. Rushcutters Bay, NSW: Halstead Press, 2000.
- The Best Australian Poetry 2008. St. Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 2008.
- David Brooks (Australia, 1953) at Poetry International (profile & 18 poems)
- David Brooks at PoemHunter (25 poems)
- David Brooks Official website
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