Joseph Di Prisco was born in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where once upon a time the Brooklyn Dodgers ruled the known world. Shortly after he was whisked away at ten years old on the subway to California (long story; see his memoirs), however, he saw the light and became a San Francisco Giants fan. He has published four novels (Confessions of Brother Eli, Sun City, All for Now, and The Alzhammer), three books of poetry (Wit’s End, Poems in Which, and Sightlines from the Cheap Seats), two books on childhood and adolescence co-written with psychologist and educator Michael Riera (Field Guide to the American Teenager and Right from Wrong), and two memoirs (Subway to California and The Pope of Brooklyn). His book reviews, essays, and poems have appeared in numerous journals and newspapers, and his poetry has been awarded prizes from Poetry Northwest, Bear Star Press, and Bread Loaf.
He is the graduate of a Catholic boys’ high school, Syracuse University summa cum laude, and the University of California, Berkeley, where he completed his dissertation on Mark Twain. He taught English for some twenty years, middle school, high school, and college. In other lives he has lived, he was a novice in a Catholic monastery, managed restaurants, been a wine consultant, and (when he was a young man who was broke in the ‘80s) played high-stakes blackjack professionally around the world for several years, bankrolled by big-money backers with multiple vowels in their names.
He has sat on, and consulted with, non-profit boards dedicated to children’s mental health, the arts, theater, and education. He is Board Chair Emeritus of Redwood Day School and Founding Chair of the Simpson Family Literary Project, a collaborative enterprise of the UC Berkeley English Department and the Lafayette Library and Learning Center Foundation.
He lives with his wife, photographer Patti James, and their two whippets (Raylan and Ava—yes, their names straight out of Elmore Leonard) in Lafayette, California, where fortunately his son and beautiful family live right down the road.