scott ezell
PETROGLYPH AMERICANA is a book-length poem published by Empty Bowl Press that careens across landscapes of the American West and resonates with Scott Ezell’s dozen years in Asia. By turns narrative and lyrical, Petroglyph Americana is a journey through Death Valley and Las Vegas, through the Great Basin and San Francisco’s administrative assistance industry, and through the history of the Gold Rush and an LA traffic jam—all with reflections from Asian landscapes, cultures, and poetry. Petroglyph Americana embraces the lust, freedom, exuberance, and folly of America, distilling a geographic, cultural, and ecological sense of place.

Petroglyph America is one of those volumes that casts a long shadow. Its philosophical components are spot on for our time in this country. Ezell renders his insights with frequent humor, but his language is pure heaven. Whether he is writing of a highway that “unscrolls like an asphalt tongue” or of how “the cowls and towers of a tungsten mine / stand like robot trees or missile silos / against a canvas sky” he orchestrates precision of image with music every time.”

—Karen Swenson, author of The Landlady in Bangkok, National Poetry Series winner, 1993.

“Reading Scott Ezell’s Petroglyph Americana, I imagine de Tocqueville returning from an Asian exile or Hart Crane rising from the Gulf of Mexico somehow summoning the strength for one more paean to the absurdity of our times and the phantasmagoria of our passage. And yet, the sweetness is overpowering. Another bodhisattva sends back news from the trail.”

—Bill Porter (Red Pine), author of Road to Heaven, translator of The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain.

For a new review of Petroglyph Americana, click here.


Pleasure Boat Studio and Empty Bowl Press are pleased to announce an upcoming chapbook book by Scott Ezell called Hanoi Rhapsodies. Click here to see some of the poems from this volume which were reprinted in Asia Literary Review. And click here to read an interview with Scott.

Scott Ezell was born in Berkeley, California. He received a BA in English from UC Davis, studied Chinese at UC Berkeley, then entered the MA program in Comparative Literature at the University of Washington. In 1992 he left graduate school to study Chinese language and literature in Taiwan, and lived a dozen years in Asia, working as a writer, editor, radio host, street musician, recording artist, and record producer. He also traveled widely     in China, India, Japan, Indonesia, and other countries.

    From 2002 – 2004 Scott lived with a community of aboriginal woodcarvers in Dulan Village, on the Pacific coast of Taiwan. There he rented an abandoned farmhouse and built a recording studio from driftwood and analog tape machines. In 2003 he produced the poetry-music-painting album Ocean Hieroglyphics, which was released internationally by Wind Records. His essay collection A Far Corner is a first-person account of life in a contemporary aboriginal community.

    After traveling through Tibet and along the Silk Road to China’s border with Afghanistan, Scott returned to America in 2005 and began writing the book-length poem Petroglyph Americana. In 2006 he lived in Barcelona, working as a freelance writer and performing music with flamenco dancers in anarchy bars. In 2007 he was invited to participate in an artist residency at the Tjibaou Cultural Center in New Caledonia along with two aboriginal sculptors from Taiwan, and created the poem-painting series “Migration.” In 2008 he composed and performed music for the Stimulate modern dance company in Seattle, and wrote The End of China, a cultural travelogue of eastern Tibet and Xinjiang. His poem- painting series “Carbon Rings” was exhibited at the Center on Contemporary Art in Seattle in September 2008.

    Scott Ezell’s writing has appeared in the Kyoto Journal, Modern Chinese Poetics, the Taipei Times, Chan magazine, the Barcelona Metropolitan, and other publications. He has composed soundtracks for several films, and his music is available through Amazon, iTunes, other major distributors, and on his website. Ocean Hieroglyphics, a multi-genre project combining poems, paintings, photos, and music, has been re-issued as a book-CD package.

Scott Ezell lives in Seattle and Hanoi. In addition to writing the poem-cycle “Hanoi Rhapsodies,” he has recently performed improvised music with Vietnamese composer Vu Nhat Tan and recorded the album Where Will You Go When Your Heart is Free, a collection of love songs.

Songs from a Yahi Bow: A series of poems about Ishi • Edited by Scott Ezell

with poems by Yusef Konumyakaa,Mike O’Connor Scott Ezell, and an essay by Thomas Merton poems and prose

Illustrated with paintings by Jeff Hengst


In 1911, Ishi emerged from an isolated hunting and gathering lifestyle in the foothills of northern California. Called the “last wild American Indian,” he was taken to San Francisco, where he lived until his death in 1916. Songs from a Yahi Bow, the first published book of poems on Ishi, consists of work by three poets, written across four decades, and coincides with the 100th anniversary of Ishi’s emergence from the wilderness. This colllection includes an introduction to recent discoveries about Ishi, as well as Thomas Merton’s 1968 essay, “Ishi: A Meditation.”


Ocean Hieroglyphics - poems/music/paintings/photography

Take a look at some of the poems in this volume of poems from Empty Bowl Press. Click here.