Photo by Carol Stanizzi
This superb collection of poems has been greeted with great enthusuasm by advance reviewers. Hugh Ogden has written, “Through the sluice of memory John Leonard Stanizzi shapes the torrent that pours through his mind and being. He fashions poems that hold and treasure family, friends, and the seasons. He gives stability to what we love and care about through a language equal to what it tributes and memorializes. Ecstasy Among Ghosts is a stunning debut.” Ruth Daigon adds that “John Stanizzi is a poet of courage and passion who manages to be achingly sensual without a scrap of sentimentality. His work is brought to life by the transformation of nature, its eroticism and beauty. There is no separation between his personal world and the world at large, both of which he creates with intelligence, musicality and precision. His work moves between the old Italian family traditions of mysticism and spontaneity and his own new venues of passion & tenderness, a wonderful balancing act.” David Ferry praises “the accuracy of John Stanizzi’s ways of seeing and the unsentimental love he’s capable of expressing in poem after poem” as well as “ the directness and simplicity of his verse.“

John Leonard Stanizzi, a former Wesleyan University Etherington Scholar, has been a poet in residence at Manchester Community College and in the Middletown Public School system. In 1998 he was named New England Poet of the Year by The New England Association of Teachers of English, which featured him in Scattered Leaves: A Collection of Celebrated Poets of the Year 2000. He has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, has been widely anthologized, and has had work in journals such as Blue Unicorn, The Connecticut River Review, Embers, The MacGuffin, Poet Lore, Poets On, The Red Fox Review, Soundings East, and Stone Country. He is currently an adjunct instructor at Manchester Community College and teaches English at Bacon Academy in Colchester, Connecticut, where he also directs the theater program. He and his wife, Carol, live in Coventry, Connecticut.

Click here to read three sample poems. And to hear Garrison Keillor read two of John's poems on The Writers Almanac, go to

The Antrim House seminar room offers notes, ideas for discussion & writing, images, and/or additional poems. Click here to read the seminar offering for Ecstasy Among Ghosts.

For John Stanizzi's schedule, click the Upcoming Events" tab above. And to read about Sleepwalking, also by John Stanizzi, click the Catalog tab above.


ISBN: 978-0-9770633-4-5
88 pages, 6" x 9" trade paperback



Of course I steal peaches from Mrs. Lewis’ tree.
It bursts from among the tenements like a bouquet
rising out of the asphalt into sunshine, with peaches
as big as grapefruits, firm and yellow, with a smudge of red,
and covered with a fur that makes my tongue itch
when the sweet, warm juice spills from the split skin.

So, with Tina and Lena, Rosie and Mary
all fixed on my ascent, I climb the knobby tree,
while they point and yell
Get that one!
I have to cock my head
and squint through my Bat Man mask
to locate their perfect peach.
But I do.

And I stretch through long tubes of sunlight
toward the fruit which hangs
motionless and heavy and with light all around it.
I reach and feel its warmth with my fingertips.
I reach and close my hand around it.
I reach and step triumphantly
onto the corner of my Bat Man cape.

I don’t remember the fall—
or hitting the ground
but I lie on my stomach,
arm twisted under me,
and open my eyes to an earth tilting
back and forth like a seesaw,
and the air has the blurred smear of a dream.

I spend all of Third Grade
with my arm in a cast.
People bring me gifts,
ask about me, do my work,
and hold my arm gently to sign the cast.

But when the school year ends
the doctor cuts away the plaster—
a hardly noticeable slice
from the thumb up to the forearm.
He opens it like a big razor clam
and it saddens me
to see the thin, dark arm lying there
like a brown snake which has shed its skin.

I stash the cast in my desk drawer
and that whole summer,
until my arm puffs up enough
to make the cast too tight,
I slip it on occasionally
and tell everyone the arm is broken again,
the need for love swelling inside me
like peaches ripening in the sun.


after the Persian Gulf War

The heavy equipment,
done for the day,
is parked here and there
on the stripped lot
among hills of dirt
and felled trees,
scattered lumber
and half-framed houses.
Seven children are walking there,
single file,
their studied silhouette
as exact and crisp
as if it had been precisely cut
from the newspaper—
the familiar, sad gait,
the hands on top
of bowed heads,
the last child
pressing a plastic machine gun
to the lower back
of the child in front of him
walking there in the dusk,
playing surrender,
April exploding everywhere.


Point O’ Woods, South Lyme, August, 1999

So early in the morning,
and yet too hot for her to walk
even a step or two.

We sit her in a plastic lawn chair,
secure her with a bed sheet
huge and cool around her frail body,

and Ma, elegant and 70 pounds,
waits with apprehension
to be lifted to the top
of forty-seven steep and crooked steps

to the landing that overlooks
the cottage roof where a gull sleeps,
and below that
a sail on jeweled green water.

At the top,
with the sun impatient for 97,
we stand with her a moment
as she looks out on the bay.

Very pretty, she says, very pretty.

And I think of those words
as sweetest memory
the very moment
she is speaking them.

                                     for Katherine Conkling

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