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A Luminous Uplift, Landscape & Memory - John Brandi

$20.00 - ISBN 978-1-945680-66-3 

John Brandi’s selection of writings over the last four decades opens with a memoir addressing his awakening to landscape and poetry during his upbringing in California, his counterculture years in the Sixties, his Peace Corps work with indigenous farmers in the Andes, his eye-opening travels in India. Two sections of travel essays follow. The first is focused on his multiple visits to India, Sikkim and Nepal, with vivid descriptions of Khajuraho’s erotic temples, the ritual dances of Kerala, the monasteries of the Himalaya, his discovery of Ghalib’s poetry, his reflections on Baudelaire while lost in the crowds of Mumbai. Section two is focused on life and travel in the American Southwest: the sky villages of Hopi, the Deer Dance of Taos, walkabouts with Japanese poet Nanao Sakaki, his practice of haiku at home in the New Mexico mesa lands. The book closes with the author’s celebratory essay on where, exactly, the journey began that led him to New Mexico. On John Brandi’s writings, poet Arthur Sze comments: “They are a form of language on landscape, a form of inscape, that, intimate and moving, are also arresting and revelatory.”

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“John Brandi’s selection of writings over the last four decades takes us on a remarkable journey. These essays and haibun bring inner landscape into focus through outward, expansive travel; whether searching for Ghalib’s house in Old Delhi, marveling over the sculptures in Khajuraho, or traveling across the Himalayas, John Brandi brings a keen eye and spirit to life as encounter, life as transformation. Drawing on his deep knowledge of Japanese haiku, and with humility and openness to “a few instances of life on earth,” John Brandi’s writings are a form of language on landscape, a form of inscape, that, intimate and moving, are also arresting and revelatory:”


Full moon—

even the biting mosquitoes

have stopped for it


—Arthur Sze, author of The Glass Constellation


            “A Luminous Uplift is a rich compendium of John Brandi’s new and selected prose that revisits rambles in three continents. An intrepid sojourner, he’s equally at home sleeping under the stars or in a hermit’s stone hut reading passages of travel accounts by Matsuo Basho or Nicholas Roerich. Whether on a rocky foot path crossing a Himalayan icefall or when homesteading, chopping wood, gardening in the American Southwest and engaging with ancient Pueblo culture, Brandi’s seasoned haiku poet’s eye inspires and celebrates spirit, the power of place and the wonders he beholds venturing off the beaten path. His pen flows with lyrical exuberance!”


—Marilyn Stablein, author of Sleeping in Caves


“John Brandi opens this dazzling collection with a description of road trips he took through the landscapes of Southern California with his parents, who taught him how to see. In subsequent chapters, the boy becomes a bard, and we trek with him up mountain trails, drop into roiling cities, meet eccentric visionaries and return home to the wilds of New Mexico. Brandi leans into each experience of place with the open senses and curious mind of a sommelier, tasting deeply, distilling the essence. His peripatetic embrace of the world is passionate and contagious. “My feet are burning, so is my heart,” he writes. “A pleasant madness flames out of my head and lifts my hat as I tramp this uninhabited backcountry.””


—Anne Valley-Fox, author of The Household Muse (with Tom Ireland)


“Eyes and mind wide open to unanticipated concurrencies of place and time, it’s no coincidence that Brandi, a long-practicing artist and poet, is drawn to shamanic shapechangers; his favorite landscapes are transformative vistas where ongoing dramas of the natural world play out in moments and eons. A Luminous Uplift, the latest of his distinguished publications, charts numinous inner realms to illuminate a profoundly engaged spirit of place—both around the world and at home in New Mexico.”


—Ken Rodgers, Kyoto Journal

John Brandi (b. Los Angeles, 1943) grew up in California, whose coast, mountains and deserts impacted his early life. After graduating from Cal State Northridge (1965), he worked as a Peace Corps Volunteer with Quechua farmers in the Ecuadorian Andes. In 1971 he moved to New Mexico, where he still resides. A recipient a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for Poetry, he is an ardent traveler, with dozens of publications issued at home and abroad. Recent books include: The Way to Thorong La (Empty Bowl Press), The Great Unrest (White Pine Press) and Into the Dream Maze, limited-edition haibun poems with hand-colored drawings (Palace Press, Santa Fe). In 2017 he received a Touchstone Distinguished Book Award for A House By Itself: Selected Haiku of Masaoka Shiki (White Pine Press). Brandi has made a living on his craft: teaching, lectures on poetry, haiku and the spirit of travel, and by assisting students in writing programs abroad.

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