Tiny Kites by Lucien Zell


Any poet worth his salt transcends categories. But for me California-born Lucien Zell is very much a Romantic poet. In an age when the run of poets have their noses stuck to the grindstone of their own mundane affairs Zell takes a bold broad expansive view of life and our place in the world. It’s a view, a shifting, restless view full of wonder and the constant sense of surprise at the authorless miracle of existence. We lose the sense of wonder, of awe, for some, the sense of gratitude, at our peril. In his first American-published collection Zell brings us a taste of “the surge of peace that comes with wonder.” A Romantic, but Zell is certainly no confectionary-peddling dreamer. There’s wryness in these poems, an earned awareness of the various darknesses at our elbow. “The lonely trade beds and dream of one another” is one of the neat sardonic summations of the human condition studded throughout the book. “I wander through the dark wilderness by the light of my burning map” is another aphoristic gem reminding us that the mirror-image of gain is loss. Loneliness, loss, fear, doubt, there’s no shying away, or glossing of the pains of life, but, delivered with a certain trenchancy, a cool, chilled lyricism often redolent of Edward Fitzgerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, Zell’s tautly constructed poems are high-flying invitations to subsume our woes, if only for a moment, in a higher, grander, more embracing view of this, our one brief life. —John McKeown, 2018

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  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 90
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: March, 2019
  • ISBN 978-1-948017-35-0


“…Lucien Zell’s poems are highly original and invoke no obvious influence or origin that one can think of elsewhere. Sharp phrases each carry a single image or impression, each different as if from a dream or sudden revelation. Often the visual or emotional impression invoked goes off in a surprising direction. Surprise is perhaps the key word to describe the reader’s reaction when reading his work…” —John Calder

From Prague (a city he calls “Threshold”) comes the gnomic verse of the expatriate American poet Lucien Zell. The old alchemists would recognize what Zell is up to: the transformation of base materials (simple words, direct images) into spiritual gold. The result is what he calls “The extraordinary bliss to be found in the ordinary.” Kafka too would surely understand. —Norman Finkelstein

I admire people who master words… like birdmen of old, Papagenos, the piedpipers – you play your magic flute and words simply follow you. I take my hat off to you Lucien, your words follow you all around the world… —Peter Sis

Tiny Kites confirms Zell as a master of juxtaposition. These poems are unsettling in their simplicity: a series of thoughts that slap you ever so gently with images that remain long after the book has been closed. —Neil McCarthy


She danced me to the edge of the cliff
Broke my heart into a thousand birds
Then leaping off without a word
She taught them to fly.

Don’t not go to the home of your beloved
because you’re not sure what you’ll say when you get there.
When you get there, you won’t need to say a word.
Your journey is your message.


Born in LA, based in Prague, Lucien Zell lives at the edge “because that’s where the views are.” The author of four poetry collections, two novels, two children’s books and over a hundred songs, Zell elects for the relative anonymity of life in European exile, preferring the luxury of blurry time and diffuse self-reflection to that of shiny cars and sharp clothes. The proud father of four exceptional children (fathered in three countries), Zell has performed his anti-Nazi (‘Not See’) salute of repopulating the Jews of Europe. To the shame of over-commercialized presses and editors, after twenty-five years of exile, Tiny Kites is Zell’s first American book.

Find Lucien’s photos on Howling Eye and his other work on Patreon.

See/hear Lucien

Additional information

Weight 6.3 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .25 in