Alessio Zanelli

“Zanelli’s poetry deals with things that matter to all of us: birth, ageing and death; love and loss; the meaning (or non-meaning) of life. A central theme is that of belonging: we are at home but not at home in our relationships, in the natural world, in the universe itself. How can our value as intelligent loving beings—Zanelli asks—be reconciled with our total insignificance in the context of cosmic space and time? He sees contradictions everywhere: in the reality and unreality of our experience and memory; in our strivings to understand what cannot be understood; in our efforts to see what is invisible. Moving and thought-provoking by turns, this collection [The Invisible] is impressive both for its range and for its intensity of feeling.”

MICHAEL SWAN – linguist and poet

“Questing, quizzical, lyric and tender, these poems quiver with light and the energy of language, giving import and illumination to worlds both inner and outer. The reader will be taken on beautiful and essential journeys.”


“Zanelli is an Italian artist who happens to write in English, and he does so with a level of technical excellence that is, frankly, somewhat astonishing. While I have no difficulty with free verse […] I must confess to a deep admiration for those artists who are able to maintain poetic intensity within the constraints of a predetermined poetic form, and who do so in a way that seems effortless. Zanelli has this ability, and he manages to do so in a second language.”

Prof. TREVOR SAWLER​ – The Nashwaak Review

“This is a fine collection from an Italian poet who is clearly at ease writing in English. His poems speak of ‘the urge of present days / out of the echo of distant times’, for these are poems grounded in history and they are also poems that speak to us with the wisdom of experience.”

NEIL LEADBEATER​ – essayist, poet and critic

“Alessio Zanelli is Italian, born in Lombardy. His native language is Italian, yet he writes poetry in English, a self-taught language. As someone who has lived and worked abroad for many years and knows just how difficult it is to be really fluent in a foreign language, let alone comfortable in a foreign culture, I’m impressed. […] We can learn a lot about ourselves from how others use our language. Alessio Zanelli has paid our language, Edward Thomas’ English Words, a rare compliment, in turn we should take the time to read what he has to say.”

JOHN PLEVIN​ – Pulsar Poetry Magazine

“Get your dictionary for this Italian-speaker writing in English… Zanelli is a great original. No one else like him around. Abstract, deep, it’s like St. Thomas Aquinas putting aside Summa Theologiae and deciding to write poetry. Metaphysics very nicely performed. One of a kind.”

HUGH FOX – Ibbetson Street Press

“With each poetry collection published, Zanelli gains respect and recognition from his peers while pleasing fans eager for his latest work. Zanelli is an Italian poet and world traveler who creates in English, an amazing feat in itself. His command of the English language is impressive. […] One American critic says Zanelli is an original, one of a kind. That originality is attained through imprinting each thought and every poem with his essence.”

LAUREL JOHNSON – Midwest Book Review

“Zanelli is an original and surprising poet, unusually skilled at distilling significance from the apparently casual and trivial. This is exactly the reverse of what many of us attempt to do by indulging in grand statements and resorting to elaborate and effusive narratives. Minor events and little things, also, can give shape and sense to what we are and do. Zanelli knows this very well. These poems, even more than his previous work, love to investigate a somewhat lesser world, bringing to light a wider meaning to our everyday lives.”

ALISTAIR PATERSON – former editor of Poetry New Zealand

“There is nothing misty about these energetic, muscular poems: Zanelli casts an unnervingly clear eye over both inner and outer landscapes. If his poetry is rooted in the intense, immediate physicality with which he experiences the world, it also conveys an elegiac awareness of last things: there are moving meditations on ageing, illness, loss, ‘the time of no more.’ It is rich in imagery and allusion, varied and confident in form and style, lyricism and humour. Perhaps he is at his best when the complexities of language and thought resolve in a few lines of marvellous simplicity. With these poems the runner-poet promises to be ‘an absolute runner’.”


“Alessio Zanelli brings to these poems Mediterranean sensitivity expressed with taut, almost visceral intensity. His poems touch and explore constantly the fundamental elements of the physical landscape, particularly plains and mountains, but also range from reflective poems on mortality and the rigours of love to flashes of anger, humour and insight. His imaginative use of form and freshness of language offer a compelling read rich in discernment and creativity.”


“Alessio Zanelli covers a wide range of fascinating experiences and emotions: a subtle sense of place and longing/belonging permeates the book. Because he is not an English-mother-tongue writer, he often uses unpredictable words that shine an even brighter light on his images or feelings: words that almost stun the reader into grasping his pictures and epiphanies, giving him a voice and style all his own.”

MICHAEL HATHAWAY – editor of Chiron Review

“Much has been said of Italian Alessio Zanelli’s use of English as his artistic language. And that is certainly to be admired—his imagery, metaphor, varied colloquialisms, and the vitality of words he uses are better and more realized than the majority of the poetry by native English-speakers that I receive for this magazine.”

CHRISTOPHER HARTER – editor of Bathtub Gin

“Zanelli is truly astonished by life, the real and imagined, and this is the spell that draws the reader in. Precision and vision combine to make his words memorable; his sensual journey, all the more tangible.”


“Zanelli’s poems are liminal, hovering between light and darkness, between elements, between the author’s mother language and his adopted language. Poems of twilight when, as Celts believed, the other world is briefly revealed. Evasive, tantalising, they compose a Book of Shadows, enticing the reader to enter into Alessio’s vision.”

GABRIEL GRIFFIN – Poetry On The Lake