Brekke fled from occupied Norway to Sweden in 1940, when he was 17 years old. He made his literary debut in 1942, with the poetry collection Av din jord er vi til (From thy soil we exist). His first novel was På flukt (On the run, 1946).
Brekke has been called the father of modernism in Norway.
He was awarded the Norwegian Critics Prize for Literature in 1972 for the poetry collection Aftenen er stille (Quiet is the evening). As a young refugee Brekke became familiar with modern Swedish poetry.
He returned to Norway in 1945, and issued the collection. The novel is describing a failed attempt to reach England during the war.
Later collections are, and
Brekke"s contributions to modernist poetry in the 1960s are the collection Det skjeve smil i rosa (1965), poetry combined with political sarcasm, and Granatmannen kommer (poems and other texts, 1968). Late in his life he released the two collections Men barnet i meg spør (1992) and Ostinato (1994, posthumous). Brekke was soon noticed for his orientation towards modern European poetry, both as poet and critic.
He asked for a renewal of Norwegian poetry, and spread knowledge of foreign literature through translations of English modernist writers like T.S.Eliot, and also Indian and Japanese poetry.
In the mid 1950s Brekke participated in the debate on lyrical form, and opposed André Bjerke and Arnulf Øverland in the so-called Glossolalia debate. The travel book is written after a visit to India in 1960, where Brekke was faced with poverty and hunger in the third world, and became aware of the underlying conflicts between rich and poor nations.