John L. Stanizzi

Connecticut teacher, author, and poet


In Sundowning, John Stanizzi gives us his own world, which we enter via his irresistible voice and words of imaginative power. The book encompasses childhood to grand-fatherhood. If, throughout, we ponder interrelations of ideas, it is mainly through weavings of people, feelings, and natural images. His demanding father’s decline and death through Alzheimer’s serves as the taproot. So much springs up and is gathered from there: cosmic cold against the fire, resentment and pain against love, chaos against order, oblivion against memory, fear against hope. This is “a tale of hunger patience/ and a kind of love/ that truly does surpass understanding“. John Stanizzi’s faith in being a maker of poems faces down aging and doubt and all the destructions we witness every day in America and the world. The book is a cry of freedom.

-Marilyn E. Johnston, author of Silk Fist Songs and Weight of the Angel (Antrim House)

At the core of Stanizzi’s poetry are love’s rough edges. Spoken from the viewpoint of a lonely child or that of a grown man baffled by loss, these poems articulate the essence of human connection: seamless transitions between generations. Sundowning is a powerful representation of the poet’s calling: to trace the bonds of love from grandparent to grandchild, to confront the poignant reality that we can never really know what becomes of any of us.

-Nancy Daley, author of How Much of Love

You’re in for a treat. John Stanizzi’s poetry keeps getting stronger and stronger, wilder and wilder! Like Hopkins’ windhover that gyres then slices the sky with a gold-vermillion gash, the poems in Sundowning circle their prey, which is Beauty itself, then dive with breath-taking abandon to seize that prey. These are poems that ring all the changes from uproarious hilarity to deepest despair, from lyrical sweetness to earthy description so vivid that words become the things they describe.  The beauty and sorrow of the poet’s truth-telling will break your heart and put it back together again. Come sit with Stanizzi by his backyard fire pit and listen to him spin yarns, bring the dead to life, and show you the brute beauty and valour and act of all creatures human and natural.  

-Rennie McQuilkin, Poet Laureate, Connecticut, and author of A Quorum of Saints, First and Last, The Weathering, and many others.


not humility
or rest
or a warm coat
not promises
not anger
nothing will change this
not now
it’s 8 degrees
both bottles
are empty
it would be simpler
to tell you
what doesn’t hurt


how inevitable
the mountain
of years
grief on
every peak
no strength
to stave it off
in the morning
in the morning
will be
all right
how long that excuse


bless the handful
of readers
bless them
and bless the shed skin
its ashes
by the door
and the storm ceaselessly
menacing the hills
tonight I won’t sleep
I’ll think all night
I’ll get up early
work all day
make something
true of me

-Published in The Cortland Review – Issue 74

Being Taught to Understand
Nature is not something that’s out there. Nature is who we are. If we forget that, then it really doesn’t matter what happens to us. As long as we remember this, it matters very much.
W.S. Merwin
…you help me to walk in an ordinary way
— rain pours down as if it were one thing
teaching me to move as water
— every bead a separate incident
a scrap of the world reflected on each drop
— a leaf perhaps a portion of a leaf
a bird swooping its color caught briefly
— all of us water inside and out
images in the rain clinging to the screen
— and in puddles lifting visions up and down
the momentary sadness mirrored in my eyes
— or the joy…

Published in Rust+Moth, Summer 2016

Edition: Paperback ,92 pages
Release Date: September 12, 2019