John Brandi


Weeding the Cosmos

Selected Haiku

out of print for now


These poems, quick-flash snippets culled from several years of writings— in solitude, while traveling, in work-a-day routines or high-country switchbacks— spring from a tradition as old as the Japanese poet Basho and still just as lively. Falling somewhere between haiku and senryu, John Brandi calls his three-liners “twists”— bringing to light a distinct American style with roots firmly planted in the natural world and the seasons of the human heart.

While admiring and loving dearly the classical traditions of haiku, there often arises a thirst for innovation— a twist of form, new approaches. This has always been a vital part of the tradition, schools of form abound in Japan. What has now truly begun to grow is an intrinsic American style. One of the major voices in current efforts to do so is John Brandi, who has created a remarkable body of work filled with humor and insight. Although he acknowledges the spirit of Japanese haiku masters, Brandi also embraces a western territory of Emersonian pith and forthright quirks of rumination. One of the beauties of this book is the accessibilty of its vision, both funny and wise. Even if one is not familiar with haiku, the poems reveal themselves readily and many readers will immediately laugh out loud as they recognize their own similar situations.

—Alicia Rangino

Here are poems which leap into the center of gravity. They bring your own world home and give you a fresh taste of wonder. As delicious as discovering the moon over and over again, this book says— Wake up! Be amazed at what happens, no matter what.

—Natalie Goldberg

The ironic pun of Brandi’s title poem, concerning the purplish pink flower named after the universe— ‘Weeding the cosmos / a monk stops to answer / his cordless phone’ — is as hilarious as many zen anecdotes…I never tire of Brandi’s humor, which is never superficial and mixed with compassionate sadness.

—Morgan Gibson


John Brandi’s travels have taken him from his home along the Rio Grande to India, the Himalayas, Buddhist forest temples in Thailand, Alaska’s Arctic, and most recently to the Indonesian archipelago. He was in Ecuador during the upheavals of the Sixties working in agrarian reform as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and has since supported himself as an itinerant poet throughout the United States. His many books in print include poetry, travel vignettes, and desert essays.He has read his work throughout the United States, and in Paris and Mexico. As a painter he has exhibited in Houston, San Francisco, Milwaukee, St. Louis and Santa Fe. His honors include the Portland State Poetry Prize; an NEA Fellowship in Poetry; a Witter Bynner Translation Grant; a Djerassi Foundation Residency; and the Buffalo Writers Center Residency Award. Recent books include: Heartbeat Geography: Selected & Uncollected Poems (White Pine); A Question of Journey (Light & Dust). and most recently In What Disappears (White Pine Press). John Brandi lives in El Rito,New Mexico.