John Brandi (Poet)

John Brandi in 2015. Photo by Achillon. Licensed under Creative Commons, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

John Brandi (born November 5, 1943) is an American poet and artist.


Brandi was born in Los Angeles, California.

He studied art and anthropology at California State University, Northridge, where he met poets Jack Hirschman and Eric Barker, as well as singer Pete Seeger, who encouraged him towards social work. Brandi graduated in 1965.

As a Peace Corps volunteer, he lived from 1966 to 1968 in Ecuador, where he worked with Quechua farmers in their struggle for land rights. In the Andes he began publishing his poems in hand-sewn mimeograph editions, a trend that preceded the alternative press movement.

Returning to the United States, he protested the war in Vietnam, moved to Alaska, then Mexico, and finally to California's Sierra Nevada mountains, where he met poet and environmental activist Gary Snyder.

In 1971 a key member of the San Francisco Renaissance, David Meltzer, published Brandi's debut collection of prose poems, Desde Alla. That same year, Brandi left California for New Mexico, built a hand-hewn cabin in the northern mountains, and founded Tooth of Time Books, a small press devoted to poetry.

During his early years in the American Southwest, John Brandi traveled with Japanese poet Nanao Sakaki,[1] compiled That Back Road In, and began teaching as an itinerate poet in Poetry-in-the-Schools programs throughout the western U.S. and Alaska. In 1979 he made the first of many excursions to India and the Himalayas to retrace his father's journey as a soldier in the India-Burma Theater. An elegy for his father and a tribute to poet Nanao Sakaki were included in his book Reflections in the Lizard’s Eye: Notes from the high desert.

Brandi has remained a resident of New Mexico, where he continues his rural lifestyle. An ardent traveler, he has sought source and renewal in the geography and peoples of the American Southwest and in distant lands. He has given readings of his poetry throughout the U.S. and overseas, including venues in Paris, Kyoto, Guadalajara and northern India. He has been a guide and lecturer for university students studying in Mexico, Java and Bali. In 2007 he co-curated “Jack Kerouac and the Writer’s Life,” an exhibit at the Palace of the Governor's, Santa Fe, New Mexico. In 2009 he gave the keynote address for the Haiku North America conference in Ottawa, Canada, followed by lectures at Punjab University, India, the University of California Bancroft Library, the New Mexico History Museum, and the Upaya Zen Center.


Brandi owes much as a poet to his predecessors of the Beat tradition, and to poets as diverse as Federico García Lorca and the Japanese haiku master tsuo Basho. Brandi's writing has been published both in trade and small-press editions, with noteworthy contributions in the realm of illustrated, hand-colored books printed on hand-operated presses. As a visual artist, his mixed-media paintings are enhanced with earth pigments, collage and plant dyes. He was introduced to the world of art and travel by his parents who gave him a notebook and pencils as a young boy, walked him through the Sierra Nevada meadows, encouraged him to observe keenly, draw, and write what he experienced.[3]

Brandi's many books, published in the U.S. and India, include poetry, travel vignettes, essays, modern American haiku and haibun. A complete selection of his publications may be found in the UC Berkeley Special Collections, Brown University Library, University at Buffalo Special Collections, and at the Fray Angélico Chávez History Library, Santa Fe, NM.[2]

San Francisco Poet Laureate Jack Hirschman has said of Brandi: "He has been an open roader for much of his life and like his two great forebears, Whitman and Neruda, has named the minute particulars, the details of his sojournings … infusing them with a whole gamut of feelings— compassionate, mischievous, loving and righteous. It's what's made his poetry one of the solid bodies of work that's emerged from the North American West since the '60s."[3]


In 1980 Brandi received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship for poetry.


  • Portland State University Poetry Prize, (1972)
  • National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship, (1980)
  • NEA Grants as Editor of Tooth of Time Books, (1980–86)
  • State Arts Councils Poetry-in-the-Schools Awards: Alaska, Arkansas, New Mexico, Montana, Nevada (1973–1993)
  • Witter Bynner Foundation Translation Grants - Mexican Poetry (1985), Japanese Poetry (2016)
  • Just Buffalo Literary Center Writer-in-Residence Award (1988)
  • Just Buffalo / White Pine Press World of Voices residency award (2004)
  • The Haiku Foundation Touchstone Distinguished Books Award (2017)



  • Poem Afternoon in a Square of Guadalajara. San Francisco: Maya, 1970.
  • Emptylots: Poems of Venice and L.A.. Monterey, CA: Nail Press, 1971.
  • Field Notes from Alaska: Prosepoem texts ripped from jottings & diaries. Benicia, CA: Nail Press, 1971.
  • One Week of Mornings at Dry Creek. Santa Barbara, CA: Christopher Books, 1971.
  • Desde Alla. Santa Barbara, CA: Christopher Books, 1971.
  • A Partial Exploration of Palo Flechado Canyon. Monterrey, CA: Nail Press, 1973.
  • Turning Thirty: Poem. Placitas, NM: Duende Press, 1974.
  • From the Seat of a Farmall SuperA Tractor. [Santa Barbara, CA?]: Christopher's Books / [Guadalupita, NM?]: Nail Press, 1974.
  • Firebook. Virgin River, UT: Smokey the Bear Press, 1974.
  • Narrowgauge to Riobamba. Santa Barbara, CA: Christopher's Books, 1975.
  • Skyhorse / Pink Cottonwood. Guadalupita, NM: Tooth of Time, 1980.
  • Zuleikha's Book. Santa Barbara, CA: Doggerel Press, 1983.
  • That Back Road In. Berkeley, CA: Wingbow Press, 1985.
  • Hymn for a Night Feast: Poems 1979-1986. Stevens Point, WI: Holy Cow! Press, 1988.
  • Shadow Play: Poems, 1987-1991. Kenosha, WI: Light & Dust / Tooth of Time, 1992.
  • Heartbeat Geography: Selected & uncollected poems. Fredonia, NY: White Pine, 1995.
  • Unmasking the Fire: Bali journals (with Renee Gregorio). Farmington, NM: Yoo Hoo Press, 2000.
  • In What Disappears. Buffalo, NY: White Pine Press, 2003.
  • Cuba Journals (with Renee Gregorio). Las Placitas & El Rito, NM: [2003?]
  • Steaying on Course. Berkeley, CA: Tangram, 2007.
  • Facing High Water. Buffalo, NY: White Pine Press, 2008.
  • Other Roads. Berkeley, CA: Tangram, 2009.
  • Road to the Cloud's House (with Renee Gregorio). Albuquerque, NM: La Alameda Press, 2009.
  • The World, the World. Buffalo, NY: White Pine Press, 2013,
  • Pa'Siempre: Cuba Poems (with Renée Gregorio). El Rito, NM: Tres Chicas Books, 2016.

Haiku and haibunEdit

  • That Crow That Visited Was Flying Backwards. Santa Fe, NM: Tooth of Time, 1982.
  • Weeding the Cosmos: Selected haiku. Albuquerque, NM: La Alameda, 1994.
  • Stone Garland: A haiku journey, nothern Vietnam. Corrales, NM: Tooth of Time, 2000.
  • Empty Moon, Belly full: Haiku from India and Nepal. Varanasi, Kathmandu: Pilgrims, 2000.
  • Angkor Wat: A haibun journey. privately printed, 2003.
  • One Cup and Another. Berkeley, CA: Tangram, 2004.
  • Water Shining Beyond the Fields: Haibun travels southeast Asia. El Rito, NM: Tres Chicas Books, 2006.
  • Staff in Hand, Wind in Pines. Berkeley, CA: Tangram, 2008.
  • Seeding the Cosmos: New and selected haiku. Albuquerque, NM: La Alameda, 2010.
  • Blue Sky Ringing. Chandigath, India: Punjabi Haiku Forum, 2010
  • Cloud Pavilion: A Kyoto suite. Berkeley, CA: Bancroft Library Press, 2013.
  • Into the Dream Maze. Santa Fe, NM: Press at the Palace of the Governors, 2015.
  • At It Again: New and selected haiku. Tooth of Time, 2015.[4]

Short fictionsEdit

  • Desde Alla (prose poems). Tree Books, 1971.[5]
  • Diary from a Journey to the Middle of the World. Berkeley, CA: The Figures, 1980.
  • The Cowboy from Phantom Banks, and other stories from southeastern New Mexico. Point Reyes Station, CA: Floating Island Publications, 1982.
  • In the Desert We Do Not Count the Days: Stories and illustrations. Duluth, MN: Holy Cow! Press, 1991.
  • A Question of Journey: Travel episodes, India, Nepal, Thailand & Bali. Kenosha, WI: Light & Dust Books, 1995; New Delhi: Book Faith India, 1999.
  • Reflections in the Lizard's Eye: Notes from the high desert. Santa Fe, NM: Western Edge Press, 2000.
  • Visits to the City of Light. Mother's Milk Press, 2000.


  • Eye Through the Wall: Mexican poetry, 1970-1985 (Tooth of Time, 1985.[6]
  • Shiki Masaoka A House By Itself: Selected haiku, Masaoka Shiki. Buffalo, NY: White Pine, 2017.


  • Chimborazo: Life on the haciendas of highland Ecuador. Rooseveltown, NY: Akwesasne Notes, 1976.
  • Dog Blue Day: An anthology of writing from the penitentiary of New Mexico. Santa Fe, NM: Tooth of Time, 1985.
  • The Unswept Path: Contemporary American haiku (edited with Dennis Maloney). Buffalo, NY: White Pine Press, 2005.


  • Postage Due: The continuing poetic correspondence of John Brandi & Steve Sanfield, 2007-2011 (with Steve Sanfield; edited by Gerald Reddan). Backlog / Trooth of Time Books, 2011.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[7]

See alsoEdit


  1. [1]
  2. Santiago, Soledad (April 13–17, 2007), "Broadsided by Deja Vu" (– Scholar search), Pasatiempo, The New Mexican, archived from the original on October 13, 2007, 
  3. quoted from Jack Hirschman's preface to Visits to the City of Light (2000), ]
  4. At It Again: New and selected haiku, Google Books. Web, May 25, 2019.
  5. Desde Alla, Web, May 25, 2019.
  6. Eye Through the Wall: Mexican poetry, 1970-1985, Barnes & Noble. Web, May 25, 2019.
  7. Search results = au:John Brnadi, WorldCat, OCLC, Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, May 23, 2019.

External linksEdit

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