John Brandi, Madhya Pradesh, India 2009
November 5, 1943 |
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Occupation||Poet, Travel Writer, Painter, Educator|
“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.”
Brandi is a native of southern California. He studied art and anthropology at California State University, Northridge, and graduated in 1965; while there, he met poets Jack Hirschman and Eric Barker, as well as singer Pete Seeger, who encouraged him towards social work. From 1966 to 1968 he lived in Ecuador as a Peace Corps volunteer, working with Quechua-speaking 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. After his travels in South America, he returned to the United States, protested the war in Vietnam, moved to Alaska, then to Mexico, and finally to the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. He met Beat Generation poets Gary Snyder, Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, and a key member of the San Francisco Renaissance, David Meltzer, who published his first collection of prose poems, Desde Alla. In 1971 Brandi moved to New Mexico, built a hand-hewn cabin in a remote canyon, and founded Tooth of Time Books, which published the first books of several poets who would become internationally recognized.
During his early years in southwestern United States, Brandi traveled with Japanese poet Nanao Sakaki, compiled That Back Road In, and earned a living by teaching as an itinerant poet. In 1980 he received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for Poetry. He has remained a resident of New Mexico, and continues to teach as an itinerant poet, supported by numerous grants from state arts councils, the Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry, and the Just Buffalo World of Voices.
In the 1960s Brandi traveled the Americas from southern Chile to Alaska; in 1979, he traveled to India to retrace his father’s journey as an army soldier in the India-Burma Theater. He has since visited Nepal, Ladakh, Sikkim, southeast Asia, China, Cuba, and Indonesia.
As a poet, Brandi owes much to the Beat tradition, and to poets as diverse as Federico García Lorca and the Japanese haiku masters. As a painter, his mixed media work, often integrating words and paint, is bright with expressionist colors, while his more subtle haiga paintings draw on Asian influences. Brandi's paintings are specifically informed, as is much of his writing, by his world journeys. He was introduced to the art of traveling by his parents, who drove him through California’s diverse landscapes, gave him a box of paints, and encouraged him to sketch and write what he saw and experienced.
John Brandi’s numerous publications include poetry, travel essays, limited-edition letterpress books, hand-colored broadsides, and modern American haiku. He has lectured at the Palace of the Governors Museum, Santa Fe, at Idyllwild Arts, California, and has been a guide and lecturer for university students studying in Bali and in Mexico.
- The World, the World (White Pine, 2013)
- Facing High Water (White Pine, 2008)
- In What Disappears (White Pine, 2003)
- Visits to the City of Light (Mother’s Milk, 2000)
- Heartbeat Geography: Selected & Uncollected Poems (White Pine, 1995)
- Shadow Play: poems 1987-1991 (Light and Dust, 1992)
- Hymn for a Night Feast: poems 1979-1986 (Holy Cow!, 1989)
- That Back Road In (Wingbow, 1985)
- Cloud Pavilion (Bancroft Library Press, 2013)
- Staff in Hand, Wind in Pines (Tangram, 2008)
- Water Shining Beyond the Fields (Tres Chicas Books, 2006)
- One Cup and Another (Tangram, 2004)
- Empty Moon / Bellyfull: Haiku from India and Nepal. Pilgrims (India) 2001.
- No Other Business Here: a Haiku Correspondence (with Steve Sanfield; La Alameda, 1999)
- Weeding the Cosmos (La Alameda, 1994)
- That Crow That Visited Was Flying Backwards (Tooth of Time, 1982)
- Reflections in the Lizard’s Eye: Notes from the High Desert (Western Edge, 2000)
- A Question of Journey (Asia Edition: Book Faith, India, 1999)
- A Question of Journey (Light & Dust, 1995)
- In the Desert we do not Count the Days (Holy Cow!, 1991)
- Diary from a Journey to the Middle of the World (The Figures, 1980)
- Desde Alla (Tree/Christopher’s, 1971)
- The Unswept Path: Contemporary American Haiku (with Dennis Maloney; White Pine, 2005)
- Chimborazo: Life on the Haciendas of Ecuador (Akwesasne Notes, 1976)
- Dog Blue Day: Writing from the Penitentiary of New Mexico (Tooth of Time, 1985)
- An Eye Through the Wall: Mexican Poetry 1970-1985 (Tooth of Time, 1986)
- 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 Award - Mexican Poetry (1985)
- Just Buffalo Literary Center Writer-in-Residence Award (1988)
- Just Buffalo / White Pine Press World of Voices residency award (2004)
- Official Website
- Brandi's poems in the Summer 2001 issue of The Drunken Boat
- Glyph Poems
- World of VoicesComplete Readers Resource Guide for Teachers
- Link to Celestial Graffiti collected by Ira Cohen
- Works by or about John Brandi in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- quoted from Jack Hirschman’s preface to Visits to the City of Light (Mother’s Milk Press, 2000) as stated on the following site http://www.pilgrimsbooks.com/poetry.html#anchor721165
- Nanao Sakaki
- Santiago, Soledad (April 13–17, 2007), "Broadsided by Deja Vu" (– Scholar search), Pasatiempo, The New Mexican [dead link]