Hi, all. I’m Joe Zitt. I write and edit books, music, and video.

The official blurb:

Joseph Zitt is a multimedia artist, author, and composer whose works have been performed across the United States. His works include the book Surprise Me With Beauty: The Music of Human Systems and the performance and CD Shekhinah: the Presence. “[His works are] a fascinating and intensely personal synthesis of such diverse disciplines as computers and mathematics, linguistics, and Jewish mysticism.” – Katherine Setar.

The friendly version:

I’m originally from New Jersey. (Well, I was born in Pennsylvania and spent early years that I don’t remember in Canada, but I did most of my growing up in New Jersey.) Over the years, I’ve been a technical writer, editor, and programmer, working with companies large and small all over the country. After that, I spent most of the past decade as a bookseller at Borders before it folded in 2011. At the end of 2011 and for much of 2012, I focused on Occupy Cleveland, doing street theater and press relations, among other things, before returning to college full time. After studying Media Arts and Filmmaking with a focus on video editing, I’m now working as an editor on projects in Greater Cleveland.

I have had several albums out of various types, most of which can be downloaded for free through links here. While my favorite is the solo instrumental album Jerusaklyn, recorded in the late 80s, and I’ve also done some purely electronic music, most of my work since then has involved avant-garde vocal performance. I’ve also created theater and video pieces and designed book layouts for several publishers.

I have five books in print.

  • 19th Nervous Breakdown: Making Human Connections in the Landscape of Commerce describes the life of selling music and books in San Francisco, showing how this dot.com dropout discovered the gift of helping people find what they desire, need, and love. (People have told me that this is the book that they enjoy the most.)
  • In The Book of Voices, a prophet who has lost her memory channels the voices of people from the Hebrew Bible to rediscover her own identity. (I’m excited to be working on a new edition of this, as well as a fully dramatized audio book of its sixty stories.)
  • Surprise Me With Beauty: the Music of Human Systems (which you can download as a free PDF) involves materials and methods of improvisation. I’ve organized and led ensembles exploring these methods in Dallas, Austin, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, and would love to put together a group to do that here in Cleveland.
  • The Rounds (created with photographer Chelsey E Stewart) depicts life in Berkeley, CA, a few years ago, from the vantage point of my secondary job as a night watchman at a church near my house. I did the rounds after midnight each night for over five years, and occasionally had fascinating and disconcerting encounters with the people whom I found there.
  • Shekhinah: the Presence, my first book, is a full-length poetic work focusing on images of the Divine Feminine in Jewish mysticism. It expands on the text of a dance/performance piece that my ensemble presented in 1992. Video and an album of the music from the piece are also available online for free.

The tab bar at the top of the page links to a variety of things that I’ve done, both here and on other sites. You can contact me on various social media, as shown on the Contact page, or via email at jzitt@josephzitt.com.


New Book: 19th Nervous Breakdown: Making Human Connections in the Landscape of Commerce


19th Nervous Breakdown (Front Cover)A dot.com dropout discovers the gift of helping people find what they desire, need, and love.

My new book, 19th Nervous Breakdown: Making Human Connections in the Landscape of Commerce, will be released on June 28th, 2011.

The book, derived from the early days of my blog, speaks of the connections made among customers, workers, and other denizens in the unlikely world of retail.

This is what I’ve learned as a book and music seller: In business relationships, we can’t simply approach the customer as an undifferentiated source from which we can wring out cash. Each encounter and transaction is a moment in a personal relationship, however fleeting. Each is as much a part of life as our connections within families, in romance, and with our coworkers. In working with customers, we discover and address their personal desires and open up areas in which we can turn them on to new possibilities, based on how we read their tastes and needs.

Find out more and buy the book at the official website or order it through your favorite bookseller.




New Book: The Rounds

The Rounds
The Rounds

Why, you may ask, was this nice Jewish boy wandering through a church late every night for more than five years?

The answers are in my latest book, The Rounds, now available from the Apocryphile Press. Created in collaboration with photographer Chelsey E. Stewart, the book presents images in words and pictures from Berkeley, California. The text developed from my blog entries earlier in this decade, focusing on the situations and people that I encountered and experienced late at night in my unexpected role as a security officer at a neighborhood church.

Click on the image in the right column to purchase the book from shops online or from your local bookstore. Chelsey and I are donating our proceeds from the book to Grace North Church.


Shekhinah: the Presence Book Reissue

Shekhinah: the Presence
Shekhinah: the Presence

My first book, Shekhinah: the Presence, has been reissued by the Apocryphile Press. First published in 1992, this poetic meditation on the feminine image of the Presence of God in Jewish mysticism evolved from the dance/theatre piece of the same name. More information, including a web-readable version of the entire text of the book, is on the book page on this site.

Click on the image in the right column to order Shekhinah: the Presence now from most online booksellers.


Writer, composer, improviser, and all that