Illinois Authors

The Illinois Center for the Book banner

John Bradley

Born: Brooklyn, New York
Pen Name: None

Connection to Illinois: Bradley lives in DeKalb and was an English professor at Northern Illinois University.

Biography: John Bradley was born in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up in Framingham, Massachusetts; Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska; Massapequa and Lynbrook, New York; and Wayzata, Minnesota. His poetry has appeared in the American Poetry Review, Caliban online, Colorado Review, Diagram, Hotel Amerika, Ironwood, Lake Effect, and other journals. He is the editor of Atomic Ghost: Poets Respond to the Nuclear Age (Coffeehouse Press), Learning to Glow: A Nuclear Reader (Univ. of Arizona Press), and Eating the Pure Light: Homage to Thomas McGrath(Backwaters Press). He frequently reviews books of poetry for Raintaxi. The recipient of a Pushcart Prize in poetry, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships in poetry and a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, he teaches at Northern Illinois University.

  • LOVE-IN-IDLENESS Winner, Washington Prize, 1989
  • You Don't Know What You Don't Know Winner, Cleveland State University Poetry Center Open Competition, 2009

Primary Literary Genre(s): Fiction; Non-Fiction; Poetry

Primary Audience(s): Adult readers


Selected Titles

ISBN: 1949966763 OCLC:

Dispatches Editions 2023

“Inspirational! It makes me want to design another line of jewelry!”—Ivanka Trump“There’s a word for this kind of thing, and it ain’t poetry.”—Mike Pence“This book does to the written word what that iceberg did to the Titanic.”—Sarah Huckabee Sanders“What we need is a literary revolution. Will AGITPORP help bring it about? I have no idea.”—Bernie Sanders“My lawyers have already been given stilettoes.”—Kellyanne Conway“Every single word in this book can be found in Wikipedia!”—Kanye West“Is this what has become done to our beloved American alphabet?”—Sarah Palin“I’m pleased to say that I’ve never met John Bradley. Nor would I ever want to.”—Noam Chomsky“Keep this away man from your children. And the family dog. And your pet rattlesnake.”—Harvey Weinstein“Satire is the rudest form of flattery.”—Hope Hicks “John Bradley has written another book. Shelter in place.”—Gina Haspel“It’s true—this book could have prevented the Civil War. And could start the next one.”—Andrew Jackson

And Thereby Everything
ISBN: 1929048394 OCLC:

Longhouse, Publishers & Booksellers 2015

LONGHOUSE is very proud to announce a new book by John Bradley in their on going series of SCOUT book publications — other titles from the series have been by Kent Johnson, Janine Pommy Vega, James Koller, Bob Arnold and Lorine Niedecker with more in the works. An opening salvo at the front of the book by Patrick Lawler should provide ample cover for what the reader should come to expect. Illustrated throughout by Bob Arnold. "John Bradley is a conjurer of conjunction and conjugation. Indeed, he does “speak his spark” from Old West to sold-out Hollywood, from Firestone to Sharon Stone to tombstone, from assembly line to disassembled line. His “language is a noise, noose, nuisance nuptial,” and And Thereby Everything—is everything. Maybe this book is why there was a Billy the Kid (“boy-bandit-king”) and Henry (Fordlandia) Ford. Maybe this book is why there is America. “Every story undulates another.” It is a tour de everything—a mix of aphorisms and dialogues and surrealistic lyrics with tics and “gears of history” and letters and plays and chorales featuring the voices of Adrienne Rich, Tony Soprano, George Zimmerman, Jean Harlow, Harpo Marx, Joan of Arc, et al. Burstingly funny and fiercely brilliant, this is Aaron Copland for dancers with clown shoes. This is Jack Spicer with a 1000 false clues and no place to hide. This is a Sam Peckinpah film starring Jane Russell as Billy with a soundtrack by Cotton Mather. John Bradley opened up America (with its dreams and icons, its violence and capitalism) and poured it inside this “Confusion Matrix” of a book. This is an American opera—maybe the only true American opera—starring, with all their desires and damage, with all their excess and dreams, Billy the Kid and Henry Ford as America." — Patrick Lawler author of Child Sings in the Womb and Rescuers of Skydivers Search Among the Clouds

Belmonte: A Tale of the Old World (Endovélico's Tales of the Old and the New World.)
ISBN: 197010984X OCLC:

Anewpress 2023

In both Portugal and Spain, the 16th century saw the forces of expansion push their ships to discover the four corners of the world, while at the same time, the forces of contraction, manifesting in the Holy Inquisition, were at their cruelest. "Belmonte" is a story of four characters coming together, this time, from different directions, to forge their escape from the Old World of Europe. Two of the four main characters are 18-year-old Jewish boys from the area around, Belmonte, Portugal, for centuries an epicenter of luso/Jewish culture. Belmonte was also the birthplace and residence of Pedro Ávares Cabral, the discoverer of Brazil and the maritime route to India. Davide Mendes de Oliveira is the son of a long line of rabbis in the Belmonte area. Through David's father, Rabbi Elias, the forbidden teachings of the Zohar, are introduced to Davide and Ruy, his best friend. Ruy Gonçalves is the son a medical doctor who is also a very successful overseas investor. Ruy's grandfather was the personal doctor, lifelong friend, and financial advisor of Pedro Alvarez Cabral. From the time of Cabral, a secret, Jewish, multi-national investment fund had been established to take advantage of overseas discoveries and commodity market capture. Daniel Almeyda, in his early 20's, is the son of a Captain of a merchant ship out of the Portuguese enclave city of Ceuta on the Moroccan coast. Daniel's father, Ahmad, is Muslim and his mother, Bela, is Jewish, and the daughter of the Jewish founder of the shipping company. Daniel's father and mother, with crew and boat, are hijacked by pirates under contract with the Portuguese Inquisition. Daniels' parents and crew are thrown overboard. When Daniel discovers this he vows vengeance and tracks one of the pirate captains to the Spanish port of Sanlucar de Barrameda. Juancinto Taranto is a 40-year-old Gypsy from Sevilla who was sentenced to 10 years of servitude in Colombia and Paraguay for killing a man who was molesting his wife as she danced flamenco to Juancinto's guitar. Juancinto returns after 10 years, in despair because two women who loved him in the New World are now dead due to his greed and selfishness. Returning to Sevilla, he learns that his son was killed in a fight protecting his mother as she danced. Solea's mother, La Gitanilla, a fortune-teller, stops Juancinto from ending his life and convinces him that his ultimate fate is in the New World. By 1565, the secretive overseas trading organization started by Cabral, was well-established in Lisboa, Sevilla, Amsterdam, London, Rio, and Goa, India. Success attracts the Inquisition. Many of the Jewish investors in Portugal, Spain, and India also participate in the secret study sessions of the Zohar. The Inquisition bears down on Goa and, through torture, discovers the treasonous international nature of the trading group and that many of the members take part in the secret study of the Zohar. All those involved are burned at the stake. The news takes 5 months to reach Lisboa and Sevilla, at which time, the fathers of Davide and Ruy understand that they are dead men and try to save their sons, who are now students at the university in Coimbra. The plan ultimately directs Davide and Ruy to the Spanish port of Sanlucar de Barrameda. Daniel, Juancinto, Ruy and Davide meet in Sanlucar. Daniel's family ship is discovered at the dock in Sanlucar, as well as the captain who stole it. Plans are made to lure the pirate captain into the nearby swampland and dispense justice, before signing up as crew to La Florida, the mid-Atlantic coast, and ultimately the Catawban town of Joara, where the sequel to Belmonte takes place.

Dear Morpheus, The Glue That Is You
ISBN: 1953252710 OCLC:

Dos Madres Press 2023

A new collection by an award winning poet, and the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, a Pushcart Prize, and a grant from the Illinois Arts Council. Anyone who has ever woken at 3 a.m. unable to turn off the brain knows the value of that precious elixir we call sleep. DEAR MORPHEUS, THE GLUE THAT IS YOU explores the realms of sleep, sleeplessness, and dreams. There are poems addressed to Morpheus, looking for answers from the Greek god of dreams. There are also memories that keep the seeker of sleep from finding rest, yet how can these memories ever be released? And there are dream poems, portals to the world where Morpheus, in many forms and disguises, dwells. It's here, in dreams, that we seem closest to the mysteries of Morpheus and that "glue" of sleep that restores and heals. The book opens and closes with an invocation to "the balm of sleep," useful for those 3 a.m. islands of insomnia. "In a culture where communication must be clear and sleep evades us, Dear Morpheus, The Glue That Is You reminds us that the landscape of sleep should be like poetry: an oceanic vastness where we are comforted precisely because 'one word can spin / a lemon into a lime, and two words back into a wooden egg.' Sleep, like poetry, is where we encounter the amalgamation of personal and literary history 'until there is nothing else but.' This book is everything we need to exchange one realm for another, lighter one. John Bradley offers us a balm of delirium and the weightless feeling of 'all the feathers one body can bear.'"--Beth McDermott, author of Figure 1

Eating the Pure Light: Homage to Thomas McGrath
ISBN: 1935218026 OCLC:


Eighty of Thomas McGrath's former students and friends offer a moving tribute in poetry and prose to one of the seminal poet-teachers of the 20th century.

Erotica Atomica
ISBN: 1625492413 OCLC:

WordTech Editions 2017

John Bradley’s EROTICA ATOMICA is a theater of the absurd, and the macbre: the worst weapons of the twentieth century examined in painstaking, mad detail, becoming surreal objects of our own folly.

Everything in motion, everything at rest :
ISBN: 1948017725 OCLC: 1138887262

Poetry. Art.

Hotel Montparnasse
ISBN: 1953252346 OCLC:

DOS Madres Pr 2021

HOTEL MONTPARNASSE: Letters to César Vallejo is a verse-novel composed in letters written to the famous Peruvian poet César Vallejo, who died in Paris in 1938. He was buried in the Montparnasse Cemetery, but soon after, according to these letters, found himself residing at the nearby Hotel Montparnasse, perhaps against his will. This book tells of his friendships, involvement with a resident named Jeanette, problems with the hotel management, and his eventual disappearance (or is it escape?) from the hotel. Most of the letter-poems are written by the residents of Hotel Montparnasse, except for those composed by a certain ¡lvaro de Campos, who reveals little about himself. This is a book about the mystery of the afterlife, the persistence of desire, and the lasting legacy of César Vallejo.Poetry.

Love-In-Idleness: The Poetry of Roberto Zingarello
ISBN: 0915380889 OCLC: 905491467

Poetry. Italian History. Washington Prize winner, second edition. John Bradley's persona Roberto Zingarello allows him to become post-war Italy: in love, revenge, and confusion, he sings loose the past, questioning and questing into the uncertain future.We need more characters like Zingarello in American poetry and more poets like Bradley who will step out of bounds to shake us with writing that is so different and important.--Ray Gonzalez, The Bloomsbury ReviewBradley enters the world of fictive poetry, and we are the richer for it. In Zingarello, Bradley has created a voice big enough to express the human dream of transcending history.--Bill Tremblay

Spontaneous Mummification
ISBN: 1912963132 OCLC:

SurVision Books 2020

John Bradley is the author of “Erotica Atomica,” “Agitprop,” and “Everything in Motion, Everything at Rest.” His poetry and prose have appeared in “Calibanonline,” “Dispatches from the Poetry Wars,” “Hotel Amerika,” “SurVision,” and other journals. He frequently reviews books of poetry for “Rain Taxi.” This collection won James Tate Poetry Prize 2019.

Terrestrial Music
ISBN: 1931896283 OCLC: 69671961

Curbstone Press, Willimantic, CT : 2006.

The poetry in Terrestrial Music has been inspired by Pablo Neruda, Thomas McGrath, Muriel Rukeyser, and Martí­n Espada. In lyrics that explore issues that affect our daily lives, such as ecology, genocide, hunger, nuclear damage, and violence, John Bradley not only celebrates the beauty of earth and the redeeming power of nature, but also confronts social injustice and fully explores the impact of the industrial uses of radium with detailed historical anecdotes and documentation. These poems identify one common source of strength: the earth is part of our identity, our body, and our soul.

ISBN: 0982955375 OCLC: [Northfield, Minn.] :

Lowbrow Press LLC [Northfield, Minn.] : 2011

"Trancelumination is unlike any other book I've encountered in American poetry. What a wild and crazy book. What a wonderful book! Trapped somewhere between poetry and the wisdom found in Chinese fortune cookies is the territory of the aphorism and John Bradley finds his way there again and again in these brilliant shards that shine like mica in a sidewalk. These are truly a delight to read, to savor, to return to. 'Ok, it's been fun, but now back to wordlessness,' John Bradley writes. But, please let's not rush back to wordlessness too soon!" -- Jim Moore, author of Invisible Strings "Drop a penny into Trancelumination and receive a fortune scrawled by a teller whose clairvoyance is as clouded as it is terrifying and beautiful. Often drunk on language, these fortunes arrive in the form of aphorism, joke, horror, hallucination, and lie. The reader is warned: 'don't wear socks spun from human flesh' because in this world what feels impossible to bear is a heart-wrenching possibility. It is John Bradley's gigantic imagination that saves and destroys this world (and its fortunes) over and over again." --Sabrina Orah Mark, author of Tsim Tsum John Bradley's aphorisms are mundanely magnificent and nonchalantly sublime, like cracking open a fortune cookie to find not a saying but a symphony orchestra. —James Geary, author of The World in a Phrase: A Brief History of the Aphorism and Geary's Guide to the World's Great Aphorists

War on Words: The John Bradley - Tomaz Salamun Confusement
ISBN: 0975922734 OCLC: 122930824

Blaze Vox Books, Buffalo, N.Y. : ©2006.

War on Words by John Bradley

You Don't Know What You Don't Know (CSU Poetry)
ISBN: 9781880834909 OCLC: 497004768

Cleveland State University Poetry Center, Cleveland, Ohio : ©2010.

Poetry. Winner of the 2009 Cleveland State University Poetry Center Open Competition. A collection of prose poems that might be described as Franz Kafka and Frida Kahlo going out for a date at Coney Island. The book reflects what happens when you drop an American history textbook, an issue of People, and a short history of dreams into a blender.