Joseph Zaccardi

Joseph Zaccardi

Joseph Zaccardi is the author of five books of poetry including, most recently, The Weight of Bodily Touches from Kelsay Books. His poems have appeared in Cincinnati Review, Poetry East, Atlanta Review, Rattle, and Salamander, among other journals. Zaccardi joined the Marin Poetry Center in 1996 and served as a board member from 2010 to 2013 and as the editor of the Marin Poetry Center Anthology in 2010–2012. Appointed poet laureate of Marin County, California, he served from 2013 to 2015. A member of the LGBTQ community, Zaccardi believes that to write a single poem is a minor miracle. He lives in Fairfax, California, with his husband, Dave, and their dog.

Songbirds of the Nine Rivers

In his afterword to Songbirds of the Nine Rivers, Joseph Zaccardi recounts how, during his time as a Navy corpsman in the Vietnam War, he found refuge in a volume of ancient Chinese and Vietnamese poetry. His study, now lifelong, has borne fruit in this present volume, the ancients at his shoulder. At once a scholarly work, an homage, and a striking volume of new poems—not translations, not “versions”— this book provides readers with a multifaceted lens, forward, backward, yet always present—and always, even in grief, exultant.


The beauty of this book is in the lyric surprise, the parabolic of the Tang. If there are such things as true works of art, it is these poems that blend the physical and the eternal, the seen and the unseen. Zaccardi’s words draw from the uncanniness of nature in a startling way and reveal to us a sometimes violent, often beautiful, but always necessary world. A work such as Songbirds of the Nine Rivers,derived from both earth and heaven, is rare indeed

––Ann Robinson, author of Stone Window

Historical, philosophical, and alchemical, these poems reenact the cosmos of the classical poet-ancestors of China and Vietnam through the awakened mind of an American poet. Joseph Zaccardi’s poetry enlarges human empathy and connects separated worlds. Listen to these songs! Every note is clear, fresh, and alive.

-–Jie Tian, author of Native Songs and Migration Songs

It is said that to hear music it is best to close your eyes, and that to hear poetry it is best to read the poems aloud. Joseph Zaccardi’s poetry is music to the ear. He lets us feel what he feels, lets us touch what he touches. His voice is song; his sounds are prayers. They wash over me, the way the sea washes over the sound of itself.

––Mai Sato, Yokohama College of Art and Design

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