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John Brandi: California Poets Part 5, Five Poems

John Brandi

December 22nd, 2022

Californian Poets: Part V

John Brandi

Five Poems

Terra Nova

The horizon undone.

A bodice of butterflies

heather and pine.

No track of another, no trace.

The trail loops upward

over pebbled ravines, into the arc

of a circling hawk.

Above beech, chestnut, oak

thin ribbons of road, carts, taverns

the greasing of axels, and today’s purchase

of oil and flour,

a cobalt sky bends

to meet a band of fossil rock

—home of Apollo’s sunbeams

veins of melancholy

salt of poetry.

Monte Pollino


Plein Air

On the Corso, hide and seek goddesses

stroll the lordly warmth of Napoli, designer shades

net leggings, volume bras.

Where to set my easel?

On Toledo? Next to Virgil

in red plastic specs and silver shoes, dressed to retire

into the scheme of intrigue, sick of snobs and dandies

bookworms, wish they weres and wanna bes.

Where to unwrap my colored pencils?

Above the catacombs

on the streets of the old acropolis

among flatfoot Romans leaving the Temple

of Echoes for the unprincipled human parade?

Lovely orbs of cosmic dust.

Flurry of legs, baggy cuffs, skintight skirts—

Where to attach my eye?

Should I court a prolonged kiss, dribble squid ink

on expensive vellum, test my non success

jumping rope with little Helen of Troy?

Better to unfold my three-legged stool,

paint unrivaled strokes of breath and death

and undemanding skies, set out my alms bowl

in case some passing king happens by.

Where to fix my gaze?

On Diana, Laxmi, Hera

their unwrinkled features on display

in the public market?

I’m having trouble getting started.

Perhaps I’ll take my brush to the glowworms

in the foliage, crusty skulls of learning

buried under the altar where Santa Patrizia’s blood

liquifies every Tuesday after Mass.

Plein air painting—

in the heart of Napoli

beneath the vibrating windows of lovers

going up and down behind half-closed curtains

over Doña Zaza’s al gusto Delicatessen.

It’s time to get out

my soft-lead Palomino #2, scratch a narrative

iambic, go for broke, lay down with

the great granddaughter of Emperor Augustus

become the center of controversy.

Should I claim my praise,

squeeze a tube of lampblack between

the fingers of the pickpocket?

Buy a ricotta pie from the nun

guarding San Gregorio’s famous bone?

Splash a dollop of Ionian yellow

and paint the soccer shouts?

maybe a sweet amber glaze

for the Venus of Rags on the steps

of the Public Treasury?

What shape and color for these children

running free? Little saplings, tiny lamb’s ankles.

Mafia fathers with dark ties, waving kerchiefs

from gold-wheel limousines.

Plein air—

Out among the hungry

and the longing, the big bottomed

and the strong

A dusty outcast in a river of sun,

painter of gilded limbs, Delphic doublecross

an anonymous brush

where the ships come in.

Porta Nolana, Napoli

Hasta Guanabacoa

In sifting rain I board the ferry

behind a lady whose dress is all pockets

blue candles, zinc amulets, pink gladiolas.

Across the bay a chapel sits like a tavern

entombed with incense, rum, votive wax.

When I climb the steps and bow to the dark saint

in her alcove of honey and white sails,

doves burst into a wine-colored fan.

Here nobody is more than anybody else.

The bride purifying herself on the kneeler

wears see-through lace. A man bent like a weathervane

creates a breeze with his supplication.

A niña half hidden in her mother’s folds

gives me her eyes,

and with them her poverty.

Back on the sea, my head turns in circles, triumphs

with doubt, holds close these moments

where one soul becomes another

and a new self embarks.

Muelle de Luz Habana Vieja


Each step over the land is a step inside. While tiny lemon-colored flowers underfoot nod to each other, I roll a pebble under my tongue, speak to stone, decode the calls of canyon wren and thrush. A cliff edge rises, breathes with electrons, ebbs with tidal waltz. What’s solid isn’t stone, only a severed window of sky where we find hold. The body is brittle air, sunlight, and blood; the universe a mineral-varnished alcove carved with petroglyphs: spiral, solar flare, dot-inside-circle, river-rippled memory path, a game animal traveling beyond the limits of the imagination. We live in and wander through geography that beckons with symbols for another reality. Past and future don’t work so well here. The land, the shape of ourselves in it, is circular. Timeless. That’s what the rocks say. Following the ranger’s map, I seem to be walking a straight line to the ancient site of Wijiji. But no, this is a diaphanous trail, woven into the zodiac itself. Breathe it in, breathe it out. A thousand years ago, the brochures don’t tell you, is today

Starlit chill

warm slickrock

tonight’s bed.

Chaco Canyon

New Mexico

Inking the Brush

Moon drifts near, over the Río Conejos. Daybreak finds it gone, swapped for a sunburst of peaks upside down in its current. Splash my face in the flow, watch the water become divided by a single boulder, regain shape as a spiraling vortex. Boil a coffee, set out pigments, rinse brush in snowmelt, load the hairs with ink, draw them across the page. Liquid vortices trail out, dry into a musical score. Bubbles, flecks of carbon, beads of light, braids of ink: the water’s rhythm. And that of heaven: the Milky Way with all its capillary blinks flowing through the cosmos. Ebb, curl, chime, thummp, tingg. Each curve and aberration of the river’s shore gives the water new form and timbre. Now a wave, a languid shallow, a spinning torrent, a mud-sucking bog. River as time line: the course of life, water moving faster in the middle than at the edges.

Deepening the gorge

the weightless curve

of the river.

Southern Rockies Colorado


October 14th, 2023

Californian Poets Interview Series:

John Brandi, Poet, Artist, Traveler

interviewed by David Garyan

DG: I’d like to begin with your most recent book, A Luminous Uplift, Landscape & Memory, a project which spotlights forty years of your writing career. Included in the collection are also new writings. The work is set to be released on October 31st, 2023. Can you give readers a sneak peek? Are the pieces arranged chronologically? How did you choose what to include, what to leave out? In addition, did the compilation/writing of this book cause you to see your experiences in a new light, or perhaps make you remember something you’d long forgotten?

JB: A Luminous Uplift is subtitled Landscape and Memory. Recollection is where it begins. Books, maps, human and physical geography, the idea of walking into a landscape and recording something about it were all part of my early upbringing. The book proceeds into how that background affected my creative focus as an adult. My parents came to Southern California in the early 1930s as Michigan transplants. My father found work as an accountant at the Los Angeles Examiner. Photography was his hobby. His favored camera was a large-format press camera. He and my mother were enthusiastic about their new environment of mountain, desert, and seashore—dad with his camera and wooden tripod, mom as a supportive partner. I was the back-seat kid traveling with them on their road trips. It was they who gave me pencil and paper and asked me to draw whatever impressed me, and to write a line about it: a bear invading our camp, Indian pictographs on a rock, an ocean wave that knocked me down. When the drawings and writings accumulated, my parents gathered them up. “Now you have some pages, all you need is a cover and a title.” So I would do that and they would staple the pages and cover together, and hand them back to me. “Now you have a book.”

Thinking about the many times I told this story when students asked how books became part of my life, I decided I was ready to collect some memories. Luminous Uplift begins with my mother reading from A Child’s Garden of Verses and Treasure Island, the Scribner’s edition illustrated by N.C. Wyeth. Later I was gifted books on natural history, geography, and famous paintings. Often we would peruse scrapbooks of my father’s photos and notes taken while serving as an army private in the India-Burma Theater. Thatched villages, stone temples, saddhus, street markets. In his darkroom I watched magic images—the Taj Mahal, minarets of a mosque, a multi-armed goddess appear as he swirled the paper in a tray of solution. As a teenager I discovered John Muir and Steinbeck after hiking the Sierras and driving the Baja coast. Early college years I was interested in oddball Indian saints, Ramakrishna, and Tagore. A bit later: Watts, Suzuki, Japanese haiku masters, Spanish poets, the American Beats, notebooks of Paul Klee, and all sorts of lost-in-the-shadows renegades who published their poems in mimeographed editions. In South America I read James Agee, Orwell, Baldwin, Graham Greene, Conrad, Gide, Barbara Tuchman, and others packed into a foot-locker the Peace Corps provided to keep you sane in your bamboo hut. Books! No little handheld screen to keep you occupied.

The core of A Luminous Uplift consists of published and unpublished prose. Landscapes that affected me as a poet-painter. A section called “Somewhere in the East” is devoted to haibun sketches, essays published in small mags, excerpts from limited-edition books. The Himalayas, India, Ghalib’s house, Khajuraho, Sikkim, a Balinese trance dance. A second section focuses on the American Southwest: Hopi sky villages, Río Grande Pueblos, Nanao Sakaki, details from homelife in northern New Mexico, my evolving haiku practice.

DG: You were friends with the notable Japanese poet Nanao Sakaki. As a walking, wandering writer, there are many stories about him—even that he once walked from California to New York and back. Can you talk about his influence on you, and conversely, to what extent you think the American West influenced his own perception of the Far Eastern culture from which he came?

JB: Nanao was the archetypal planet pilgrim. His address book had no A to Z order of last names. It went by regions, starting with friends in Japan, then Australia, Indonesia, Alaska, Seattle. And so on. Great Basin, Rocky Mountains, New York City, Western Europe, Caucasus, China. Nanao settled in an old school bus below Taos Mountain for awhile, a good base. Once, as I was leaving the bus, he stuck his head out the window: “Come back,” he laughed, “You forgot your footprint!” Nanao was a planetary citizen, but in the unique style of the old Japanese outrider poets Saigyo, Ikkyu, Ryōkan. Creative rule-breakers whose priorities were to get down low, see the world through the eyes of common people. You’d find Nanao talking to a purple gentian on a rocky slope, or singing a Japanese folk song on a New York sidewalk or along a prehistoric trail in Chaco Canyon. His reputation grew not through a promotional website, clever bio, or a fat list of published books, but by meeting people face to face. No Instagram, Linked In, Facebook. He created dialogue with the likes of bears, humans, dragonflies, and maidenhair ferns. He stood up for threatened landscapes, especially the Okinawa coral reefs.

Nanao was a quintessential drop out. He quit the Japanese mainstream after World War II, organized the Bum Academy, took up communal life on a remote Japanese island with farmers and fisherfolk. When he came to New Mexico, it wasn’t just the unusual topography—mesas, high desert, craggy peaks—that called him. It was the indigenous cultures, their song, poetry, and ritual-drama. Also, the pioneering spirit of the evolving counter-culture that took root in the Sixties. Independent thinkers, especially artists, who had come to live in the rugged mountain valleys. Nanao was at home with the anarchist spirit of northern New Mexico, Indians and Hispanos with a history of standing up to protect their land, water, language, and lifestyles.

The man was a sojourner overstepping political boundaries, walking planet Earth, trekking over mountains, following watersheds, visiting people connected with bioregions—places known to those who lived within them with names other than the ones on maps.


When I first approached Nanao to publish a book of his poems he took a stick to the sand and drew a whimsical face using Japanese characters for eyes, nose, and mouth. Above it he wrote Real Play—the title he proposed for his book. A play on words, a play on experience. I was drawn to his poems because they were off the radar. Teasing yet serious. A spontaneous breaking loose of convention and schooled learning. Dry yet tender. Untidy yet concise. Fragile yet hardy. Sober yet drunk. Zen yet un-Zen. Nanao could be wringing himself out in a cold stream, or standing on the Empire State Building, or in a Hopi village surrounded by kids asking him to perform Ninja tricks. Wherever he was he sank into a depth of perception and emotion that lay just below the obvious. And he always returned to the surface with a poem uniquely off-center—it really flipped you around.

DG: You’ve been impressively prolific in the haiku genre, having published almost an equivalent number of books as your poetry collections. Is it an effortless transition, or is poetry all poetry in the end for you?

JB: I love the haiku practice for the mode you open into. The ZAP experience where a one, two, three liner explodes already formed. The spark stands on its own as a haiku, or dissolves into a long poem, unrolling like a Chinese scroll, ink spreading into a landscape with multiple paths and interpretations. Poetry, in whatever form the experience, the place, the emotional pitchpoint demands—haiku, prose poem, haibun, enlightened fragments, solitary experience, social experience—is the beginning and the end. An out-of-frame, out-of-time vibration sounded into words. As a poet-painter I have a work space split into an easel room and a desk room. On some days what I can’t write I paint; on others, what I can’t paint I write. Right now I have an exhibit up in Santa Fe, “Wind, Water & Temblor: Geologic Ruminations.” At the opening I’ll do a reading from a just-released haiku collection, The Rain Sweeps Through. Small book, small poems, small adobe gallery that steps down into a little garden. My favorite kind of venue.

DG: Apart from poetry, prose, and translation, you’re also an artist. You’ve held exhibitions in places like the Magpie Gallery in Taos. The work you do is heavily influenced by themes of nature, but the depictions have magical elements to them, especially the collages. Can you speak about the beginning of your artistic journey, your influences, and whether you see art and literature as very much connected, or distinctly separate, specifically in your creative approach?

JB: I’ve already covered some of this, but I could add that I had an early fascination with Wyeth’s illustrations, Ryder’s paintings, Paul Klee’s magically configured kingdoms, old geography books. I loved the contours on topographic maps, following squiggles, copying them, expanding them as an adult, blending the earth’s seismic activity with my own psychic contours. Recently my wife asked me what all the dots and graphite flecks in my drawings were about. First thing that came to mind: “They are particles of air and enthusiasm.”

DG: In your early days, activism was very much at the heart of both your personal and poetic activities. Abroad, you worked with disenfranchised populations, and at home you were well integrated in the counter-culture movement, working with individuals we now consider household names. Do you think those times have anything to teach us about the world we live in today? In other words, would a cultural rediscovery of those ideals, in your view, be beneficial in changing the current world, or do you think we need a new activism—with a new philosophy, or perhaps a hybrid approach?

JB: The Sixties were wide open, a time of loosening, reckoning, opening up, throwing off the old, making new. Michael McClure said it had the very energy that defines poetry. A shifting merge of dream and waking into new structures of verse; new music, new publishing, new ways of living. There’s lots to not just remember, but to reawaken: simple lifestyle; no sell-out to overblown consumerism and corporate sales pitch; absolute resistance to tyrant political rap. A friend, Ed Kissam, who was active in the drive to register Black voters in Mississippi in 1964 reminds me our struggle is even harder now. “So-called public debate is infused with mythology like that of the dark ages, and  politics are filled with even more hate and conflict than we faced in the Sixties.”


You can step to the side, hide out somewhere. But times have changed. The electronic eyeballs are on us. Wherever we go, we are visible. Better to grow roots in one place, keep things small, base yourself in a circle of progressive individuals, plant a tomato, give away some peaches, maintain a positive attitude. As for the evil voices out there, Lew Welch said “we have to have charms against their rage. If nobody tried to live this way, all the work in the world would be in vain.” He also said “Guard the Mysteries! Constantly reveal Them!”


An artist can disregard social-political commitment and get on with his work. Or regard such commitment as part of his work. In the Sixties I was part of a small circle of Americans and Ecuadorians working to help connect indigenous communities who were organizing to take legal action to retrieve their stolen lands. They were Quechua serfs scratching out a living in a visually stunning landscape under the snows of 20,000-foot Chimborazo. Between our work in small hamlets I began writing poems from notes scribbled in a pocket pad. Some were political rants that ended in the wastebasket. Others brought to the forefront voices of the underdogs, people the media usually kept in the background. Some poems found their way into little mags back home. Akwesasne Notes was one of them, published by the Mohawk Nation. I would have missed all this had I stayed home like my college teachers advised. They said I needed to raise my visibility as an artist, establish an audience. Worthy advice, but I tossed it aside as too practical, too limiting.


Speaking of small circles, there’s a recent New Yorker article by Elizabeth Kolbert about a group of scientists studying the language of sperm whales. One of the marine biologists was asked why he got involved in the research. He said “Inspiration is the key. If we could communicate with animals, ask them questions and receive answers--no matter how simple those questions and answers might turn out to be—the world might soon be moved enough to at least start the process of halting our runaway destruction of life.”


I appreciate that kind of thinking and doing, the largeness within the small. Small groups of researchers. Small progressive resistance communities like the ones the Zapatistas founded in Chiapas years ago. The commune experiments happening in New Mexico when I first arrived. San Francisco’s North Beach of the Fifties--the vibrancy, the vortex of creative energy, a viable circle in which to live and think and move about in. It’s vanished into a different vortex now: money and corporate takeover. It was once a multiethnic neighborhood, able to include new ideas and new members—more of a democracy than the America out there “moping in the gloom”, as Kerouac might put it. North Beach, Point Lobos, Big Sur, the Lost Coast—it was as far as you could go without dropping off the North American continent. Edge of the land, brink of the mind. Wide open sea of possibility. Facing West, you looked east: the Far East. The era was special, imagination was not under attack. It could grow, you were encouraged by free-thinking artists of all sorts. You had dialogue, challenge, room to expand. California was so out there that it was a country of its own—it was not simply the West, it was Pacific Coast. As a native Californian, when I first read Kerouac I realized that for a Manhattan or New England person, California was the end, this is where it all began. There was work and wine and marijuana on the docks, and freighters going off to Japan and China through the Golden Gate. 


I think of small presses, too. Down-to-earth enterprises reaching out to fifty, a hundred, a thousand people in an expanding circle. There was Clifford Burke at Cranium; George Hitchcock at Kayak. Camaraderie, social networking built around alternative publishing. I always preferred staying low, sticking with the subterraneans. Kayak, Capra, Tangram, Cherry Valley, Brooding Heron, Toothpaste, Tree, Empty Bowl, Oyez, Black Sparrow, Christophers, Longhouse, Amaranth, Ecco, Tooth of Time, Tres Chicas, Duende, City Lights, La Alameda, White Pine, Grove, Unicorn, Shaman Drum, early Copper Canyon and North Point. You name them! In Santa Fe my granddaughter carries on the letterpress tradition at Al Amor; James Bourland has Twelve Tons of Letterpress; Tom Leech is at The Press at the Palace of Governors. This is where I go when I want my poetry properly midwifed into the world!

DG: I’d like to speak about your travels in relation to the guiding activities you’ve undertaken with the students you’ve taught. Which fond memories or particularly special experiences do you most treasure?

JB: I loved the outback schools in Alaska where a classroom was more like a living room full of shoes-off students lying about the floor. An extended family. One winter I was bush-piloted into a Yupik village. The fourth graders were out ice fishing along the river. When we got back into the classroom the kids were fresh with the experience of drilling holes, dropping their lines, waiting in the cold, pulling out pike. I had a haiku project in mind. We read wilderness poems of ancient China, then launched into writing haiku while the cafeteria was busy frying up the catch. After we read our poems we had a feast. It was a memorable time!

I got to another Yupik village one weekend, and the men immediately invited me to sweat. Jokes were made about how I was going to be cooked. “You bring d’salt Freddie?” It was a test to see if I had a sense of humor, a must if you want to hang with Native Americans. When we exited the steam room for the antechamber where we left our clothes, I found my bundle missing. The men smiled and helped me look around. “Don’ see ‘em anywhere, d’you Alex?” I ended hobbling through the snow–a towel around my waist—right into a kitchen where the women and girls were waiting to sweat. Everybody giggled as I stood there dripping. Then one of the men pointed to a kettle of salmon chowder and freshly-baked rolls on the counter. Next to them were my clothes. The laughter was communal. I dressed and sat down to eat with the men while the ladies left to sweat. On Monday morning the same girls who saw me near-naked in the kitchen were still giggling as they entered the classroom for my poetry session.

DG: On your website, you make some of your travel journal available to read for free. One of the many interesting observations you make is about is about the Hindu tradition of Theyyam, best described perhaps, as a mix of ritual, theater, and religion. As you write: “Theyyam performances are remote from the West’s notion of theater on a raised stage. Here, the earth is the platform. Characters roam helterskelter in a courtyard, disappear into the trees, return through the crowd, vanish into mist. As in a Javanese shadow-puppet play, the audience is free to roam. There is no fixed place where one must be …. And that is what lies beneath all Theyyam rituals: unpredictability.” Apart from perhaps the indigenous populations, would you say that there are parallels between Theyyam and any of our artistic traditions, or do you feel that the West, especially, today—with its obsessive need to categorize and rationalize—is much too uncomfortable with unpredictability?

JB: Unpredictability is uncomfortable for all of us. Especially in travel. To get lost is to become vulnerable. So many of us want it all sorted out before we leave home. No risks. The mythic journey is sabotaged for the rational linear route. In the old days of travel one left home and was gone. No email connect. Hardly a working phone to be found in Mongolia. No web surfing to bring up the next destination. No seeing before going. No checking out rooms online. Travel was a bumpy ride full of conflicts and resolutions. You got lost, had to ask real questions to real people. You floundered and fumbled. Your head got turned around, you came back somebody new. You do the same in poetry. Get lost, fumble, reawaken, find yourself in new territory. Unpredictability drives the poem.

I don’t think I answered your question about parallels between the Theyyam ritual and artistic traditions in the West. In New Mexico the same sacred and profane juxtaposition in the Theyyams—bawdy clowning, serious propitiation of the gods, oracular advice—you find in the Pueblo rituals. During the plaza ceremonies dancers are choreographed into intricate weaves, the women robed and crowned with wooden headdresses, the men in kilts and skins, shaking gourd rattles to call the rain. All the while impersonators of deer, eagle, antelope prance about to a chorus of singers and drummers. Then come the clowns—in breechcloths, bodies earth smeared—hooting, yelling, mirroring bad-mannered humans joking and pointing, refusing to become part of the dance. But soon the clowns begin to see that life is more than fooling around. That is their message for us. They begin to sing with the chorus and learn how to dance from the dancers. And they show compassion. Now and then one will stop to adjust a little boy’s animal skin, or refasten a girl’s headdress.

DG: You’ve amassed a great deal of experiences (both through travel and art). A great deal of experiences, likewise, is yet to be had. Years on the road and words on the page have brought you to the great state of New Mexico, where you’ve settled. Can you talk about the foundation and reasons which made it irresistible for you to choose this road?

JB: Ha, I’d like to get out of answering the question by referring you to the book itself. The final chapter of Luminous Uplift, titled “Finding New Mexico,” was inspired during a phone conversation with Gary Snyder where I found myself complaining that my grandkids had never asked how I got to New Mexico. “Well sometimes you just have to begin telling the story,” he advised. The story begins in 1971 when a friend gave me his pickup and set me on the road. But it really goes back to the first travels with my parents, early discoveries of outriders like Hale Tharpe, a hermit who lived in a fallen redwood. Or meeting poet Eric Barker who had a cabin in the cliffs of the Big Sur. Or Johnny Lovewisdom in the Andes, a writer-philosopher dropout who lived in a stone hut and showed me how to mimeograph my own poems.

DG: In all your travels, what’s the tastiest dish you’ve tried and which New Mexican one would you recommend to a guest from abroad?

JB: I’m trying to come up with something far away and exotic, maybe a jerk chicken on a Jamaican beach; a pulao spiced with pistachios, dried fruit, and saffron at a Kashmiri wedding; a lamb souvlaki in Thessaloniki; or a red curry in the Chiang Rai night market. But my favorite eating experience—one I’d recommend to any world traveler—is right here in New Mexico in the pueblo of Kewa, also known as Santo Domingo. On August 4, the big feast day of dance and ceremony, the villagers open their homes to the public. A communal table is set with food for guests who are called in from a living room decorated with blankets, baskets, pottery, and family photos. At the table you share talk with a dozen strangers between servings of the best slow-cooked red chile with pork, and green chile with beef you’ll ever taste. On the table you also help yourself to bread baked in outdoor adobe ovens, bowls of posole, pinto beans, tamales steamed in corn husks, cheese enchiladas, cold slaw, sautéed squash and corn, melon, strawberry Jell-O topped with Kool Whip, plum pie, and anise cookies called biscochitos.

DG: Apart from getting ready to release your newest book, are you reading or working on anything else at the moment?

JB: Frankly, I need a bit of a break. I’d like to return to Canyon de Chelly for some sketching. There’s also New York, the Nicolas Roerich Museum. And maybe another Aegean island. But with two books out this fall, there is promotion. Plus an archive commitment with UC Berkeley. Let alone the woodpile, planting of garlic, and putting away the garden tools. The first frost happened yesterday, and today’s the annular solar eclipse. So much going on!

14 October 23 Río Arriba, New Mexico

Author Bio:

John Brandi was born in Los Angeles, 1943. Early travels in the Sierra Nevada, the Mojave, and along the Big Sur coast proved to be unshakable experiences from which his world travels grew. After receiving a B.A. from San Fernando Valley State College (now Cal State Northridge), he worked in the Peace Corps with Quechua farmers in the Andean land rights struggle. In South America he began publishing his poems, became an active war protester during the Vietnam era, returned to North America to live in Alaska and Mexico, built a cabin in a remote Southwest canyon, received a National Endowment Poetry Fellowship in 1979, and worked as an itinerant poet in schools, prisons, backland ranching communities, Pueblo and Diné tribal centers, and as a lecturer for students in Mexico, Indonesia, and India. He gave keynote addresses for haiku conferences in Canada and the Punjab, and was awarded a Touchstone Distinguished Books Award for A House by Itself: Selected Haiku Masaoka Shiki. In 2015 a limited edition of his haibun, Into the Dream Maze, was issued by the Press at the Palace of the Governors, Santa Fe, followed by Planet Pilgrim, his paean to Japanese poet Nanao Sakaki. Two books of poetry and travels appeared in 2019 and 2020: The Great Unrest (White Pine) and The Way to Thorong La (Empty Bowl). As a visual artist, he’s been honored with solo exhibits in San Francisco, Taos, Santa Fe, Houston, and Milwaukee. His papers are at the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.


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